Do you naturally use ‘length’ words during class discussions and at every opportunity? It’s a great way to develop and extend student’s vocabulary to include more precise words than just the general use of ‘big’ and ‘little’ that we generally hear. I thought I’d share with you some activities that you can use to help children develop awareness of length and to also use length vocabulary.
First, I thought a list of length vocabulary would come in handy. I made a set of length word cards that you can use to help your students develop their vocabulary. These can also be used to add to your word wall. Check out the pictures below to see the words I’ve included, just click on any of the pictures to get your own copy.
Mini length activities
This list includes some of the ways that I teach students about length, I hope they’re helpful for you as well.
1. Get your students to draw a tall man and a short man, some long lines and some short lines, some wide things and some thin things. Discuss the different words that can be used to describe each of the things drawn. Use the vocabulary cards to help students describe the items.
2. Cut string, paper strips or ribbon to the lengths of people or certain objects. Stick these to the wall. Discuss the lengths using appropriate language.
3. Get your students to sort a variety of objects by length. Get them to name objects that are short, tall, wide, narrow, thick etc.
4. Also look at distances around things. For example, tie some string around a parcel. It needs to be a long piece, how could your students know how much to use? Cut strips of paper to fit around things and body parts. Get your students to describe the types of strips they’ll need for particular body parts. For example, a long strip to fit around my head and a short strip to fit around my wrist.
5. Investigate ways to compare the distances paper planes will travel. Discuss the aspects of distance and any difficulties in making comparisons. How can we measure it? Should how far they go up and down count? What if it travels in a curved path? Get your students to make the planes out of different materials and then compare the distances. As a class decide how to define the distance traveled and how they will be compared.
6. Get students to investigate which is longer, the height of a glass or the distance around the top rim. You can then find out if all drinking glasses are like that and then see if it’s similar with cups, mugs and jars.
7. Use a ruler to find things that are longer, shorter, or as long as it.
8. Estimate which tree trunk is thicker. Ask students what they can use to work it out. Allow them to then test their method and compare the results.
9. Other direct comparison questions you can ask students include: is your pencil longer than mine? Who is taller, Jill or Bob? Which plant is higher? Which is the thicker of the two pencils?
10. Other direct comparison ideas can include: find two objects in the room that are as long as each other. How do you know you are correct? Which is longer, five pencils or five paper clips?
I hope these mini activities have given you some more ideas for developing your students awareness of length.
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