How Do You Measure Up?

Ever wondered how much an elephant weighs? Or how long it takes to get to the moon? What about the temperature needed to turn batter into your favorite cookies? We measure the world around us in so many ways. Length, height, weight, time, temperature, speed and volume are just a few!

Exploring how measuring helps us in our everyday lives is a great way to introduce young children to the concept and expand their vocabularies. Join your child in describing things around them while you compare items in and out of the house using words like “long” and “short,” or “heavy” and “light.” Later, they’ll be able to apply numbers to their measuring. Try using nonstandard measurement tools like a pencil or shoe before breaking out your yardstick (“the rug is five shoes long”).

As their math skills continue to develop, they’ll maintain the same curiosity. Get them involved in dinner prep by measuring out ingredients or start a journal to record what time the sun sets each day. Older children will eventually immerse themselves in more complex topics like how types of measurements can be combined to give us the building blocks of space travel or monitoring climate change. The things we can measure are endless!

Methods of measuring and the data we collect are fundamental to understanding our world and help expand the fields of science, art, technology, agriculture and more. Use the videos and activities below (PreK-12) to start exploring how useful, and fun, measuring can be! Then, next week, learn the basics of measuring and concepts in math with Curious George and Odd Squad on PBS Kids 24/7. And keep the learning going with our Learn Along Bingo.

Jump to article sections:

Explore Measuring & Mathematics

Measure, Yea, Measure with Justin Bieber | Sesame Street

Grades PreK-1
How much does an elephant weigh? And how tall is a shrimp? Justin Bieber and Elmo teach young learners about measuring in this song from Sesame Street!

Curious George: Measure Up

Grades PreK-2
George needs to figure out how to measure a building’s height in this video from Curious George: George Measures Up. Educators can use the accompanying lesson plan to guide children through using pictures they’ve drawn as nonstandard units to measure larger items at school, and then experiment with tools that use standard units to measure different-sized pieces of spaghetti. Families can use the activity handout to explore simple measuring practices at home.

6 Ways to Help Kids Develop Positive Math Attitudes

Grades PreK-3
Math is everywhere, and everyone can be good at it! Use these six tips from Cyberchase to help your child develop positive attitudes toward math.

Measure: The Metric System Explained | Science Trek

Grades K-6
Most of the world measures things using the metric system. Learn more about this standard of measurement and how it is getting more and more accurate.

Reading a Thermometer | Cyberchase

Grades 3-5
In this video from Cyberchase, the CyberSquad has a birthday gift made for their pal Digit. It’s a chocolate “Digit” sculpture. As they make their way to the party, the desert heat threatens to melt the treat. When the special refrigerator suddenly breaks, the CyberSquad must figure out how to read a thermometer and determine the temperature in order to keep the chocolate sculpture from melting!

Calculating Speed | Cyberchase

Grades 4-8
In this video from Cyberchase, the CyberSquad has to find out exactly how fast each of Wicked’s three brooms can go. They set out to calculate the speed per second of each broom using the data they have from their speed tests over a period of five seconds.

Rubik’s Cube Volume

Grades 5-7
Reveal multiple ways to find volume using a Rubik’s cube! This video focuses on modeling volume and explaining why two different volume equations will give you the same answer.

Graffiti Art: Scaling

Grades 6-8
Learn about the mathematics behind the work of a graffiti artist as he describes how scale factor and measurement are an integral part of the mural design process in this video from Center for Asian American Media.

Measuring Redwood Giants

Grades 6-12
A forest ecologist is leading a team of scientists as they climb and measure some of the last and tallest old growth redwoods in California. In this QUEST video produced by KQED, learn about their goal which is to learn how these ancient giants have historically responded to climatic shifts and to monitor how they are being impacted today by global warming.

Activities, Games & More

Down the Tubes

Grades PreK-3
The Odd Squad needs help fixing their transportation tubes. Your child can practice math concepts including measurement, addition and spatial reasoning skills while helping the Odd Squad make the needed repairs in this online game.

Practice Math While Making Peg’s Perfect Pizza

Grades PreK-3
Baking with your child is a great way to introduce math concepts like counting, measuring and telling time. Try this yummy recipe from Peg+Cat for your own perfect pizza!

Children’s Books About Measuring

Grades PreK-5
How much milk should I use in my pancake recipe? How deep is that puddle? How far is it to grandma’s house? We measure things every day: time, distance, even ingredients. This booklist for children ages 3-10 explores all sorts of measurement, including standard and non-standard measuring tools, the English and metric systems, and even how people measured things in Ancient Egypt!

How Do You Measure Up? – Martha Speaks | PBS KIDS Lab

Explore the types of measurements that are used everyday with Martha Speaks. This interactive story focuses on discussing what qualifies as a measurement and how each type of measurement can be used in everyday life. After the story, children can answer review questions in the interactive quiz.

Bird Feeder Fractions I Wild Kratts

Grades 1-3
Combine the fun of feeding your local birds and building your child’s measuring and fraction skills while you create a homemade bird feeder with this Wild Kratts activity.

Temperature Scavenger Hunt | Cyberchase

Grades 1-4
This Cyberchase at-home activity, available in English and Spanish, helps kids explore how different things can make a place hotter or colder. Examine differences in temperature by using a thermometer to measure the temperature of cups of water placed in different locations around your home.

How Long Is a Minute?

Grades 3-6
Track how well you can judge how long a minute lasts. This interactive exercise focuses on estimating lengths of time and reading a table.

Matter’s Physical Properties: Interactive Lesson | UNC-TV Science

Grades 5-12
What are the “physical properties” of matter, and how can they be measured and observed? Learn about some basic characteristics of matter—including those that depend on the amount of a substance and those that don’t—with this interactive lesson.

Tune-up: Comparing Measurements | Skills on Demand

Grades 6-12
How do inches compare to centimeters, or ounces to kilograms? In this short practice, students review comparisons between English and metric measurements using interactive activities.

Learn Along Bingo

With Learn Along Bingo, children can view, explore, and play as they learn alongside their PBS Kids friends on the PBS Kids 24/7 channel. We hope your family will use it to inspire learning each and every day.

Next week, we’re learning the basics of measuring! Children explore measuring objects with standard and nonstandard units of measurement.

Grades PreK-K

Tune in: Watch Curious George at 4:30 PM on Tuesday, May 18th.

Play & Learn: In this packet, there are printable activities and everyday learning ideas for you and your child to choose from. As you complete each square, mark it off to celebrate the learning!

Grades 1-2

Tune in: Watch Odd Squad at 8 PM on Tuesday, May 18th.

Play & Learn: In this packet, there are printable activities and everyday learning ideas for you and your child to choose from. As you complete each square, mark it off to celebrate the learning!

For even more games and educational resources for young learners, go to the Measure Up! Collection on PBS Kids for Parents.