Reggio-inspired mathematics: measurement kit

Posted on: November 18th, 2014 by jnovakowski

On Thursday morning I visited Louesa Byrne’s Kindergarten classroom at Thompson Elementary to deliver our next Reggio-inspired mathematics kit which focuses on measurement concepts.


The kit contains a variety of materials to investigate different types of measurement – linear measurement, passage of time, volume/capacity. Additional materials and tools from the classroom that could supplement this kit are pan balances, stopwatches and various “non-standard” materials to measure with.

The first class to use the materials in this kit is Louesa Byrne’s Kindergarten class at Thompson Elementary.


Louesa was one of the teachers involved in our Reggio-Inspired Mathematics Project last year and her area of inquiry this year is the “what next?” piece…being responsive to what she is noticing while students are working with the materials. She is also curious about what inquiry projects might emerge in her classroom that may involve mathematics.

On Thursday, we began our time together by having a group discussion prompted by the questions, “What is measurement? What can we measure?” The students had all sorts of ideas – you can measure how tall you are which led to comments about all sorts of different things you could measure, such as cars. This led to my wondering aloud whether there was anything else you could be measuring while you were driving in a car. I was thinking about distance travelled but a little girl commented on speed. She was able to elaborate with explanations of how 60 was too fast, unless you were on a highway!

We talked about comparing to measure and I shared some pages from the classic book Actual Size by Steve Jenkins. I called a few students up to stand by the book to compare the size of a child’s eye to the ginormous squid eye, of our teeth to a great white shark’s teeth and finally, the gorilla’s hand, always a favourite! The gorilla’s hand is always such a good example to discuss the concept of baseline. We noticed that some of Louesa’s students have yet to develop the idea of conservation of size – that an object’s size doesn’t change because its position is changed. This will be something that Louesa can respond to as she considers math provocations for her students.

The students worked in pairs using a toy snake. The students were asked to find something longer and something shorter than their snake.

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As students were satisfied with their snake measuring, they were invited to explore some the measurement materials displayed on small table in the classroom.


This student wondered how long the sand would take to move to the bottom.


Many of the students commented they had seen similar dolls before.


This student wondered how many of the smaller cups of water would fit in the biggest cup.


When measuring, there are many opportunities to develop specific mathematical vocabulary and we overheard students comparing and discussing their findings with each other.


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