Numeracy: Measuring up 5 Stars

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By John Dabellmaths coordinator at Forest Fields Primary and Nursery School, Nottingham

Original article published 22 September 2008

Use real-life contexts outside the classroom to help develop children’s measuring skills


Outside the classroom, there are countless creative opportunities for maths. Children can explore the immediate school environment to practise measurement skills that involve length, weight, capacity, volume, area, time, angles and temperature. In this article, we look at some activities for practising and consolidating measurement skills within the school grounds.

With practice, most children develop a feel for units of measurement and can often hypothesise: If we know the area of the classroom, then we can guess the size of the hall; when we know the area of the hall, we can guess the size of the playground. This sort of activity helps children to make predictions based on prior knowledge and gives them a starting point from which to build further estimations. Approximation is a key principle of measurement, and so for this reason you should promote the vocabulary of ‘about’ or ‘to the nearest unit’.


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  1. Suzie
    on 11 January 2014

    Outdoor maths

    These are some simple ideas that really helped chn to understand length in a practical way. Many had very little idea as to length of playground etc so it has really developed their understanding.

  2. Babsy
    on 13 October 2013

    'Measuring up' article

    This is a very useful article. I love taking the children outside to measure parts of the environment, so it has helped me to think up a few more ideas.

    Thank you.