Cool Preschool Math Activity

Guest post from Leann at Montessori Tidbits

One skill that is often overlooked with smaller children is learning how to measure. Teaching measurement is a simple task, and one which children truly love to complete. There’s just something interesting about “playing” with a cool tool that Dad uses. For preschoolers, learning to use a tape measure is primarily an activity that focuses on number recognition, which is perfect for mixing math and practical life!


  • tape measure**
  • pipe cleaner
  • numbered chart (I printed off my chart here, added one extra column, and then labeled the columns 1-7.)
  • container


  1. Measure and cut the pipe cleaners so that they are various sizes, from 1 inch to 7 inches. Place the pipe cleaners into container.
  2. Lock the tape measure at 10 inches and lay it flat on the surface.
  3. Demonstrate to the child how to lay the pipe cleaner on the end of the tape measure. Determine the number that is at the other end of the pipe cleaner.
  4. Find the corresponding number on the chart. Lay the pipe cleaner in the column for the corresponding number.
  5. Continue measuring and sorting all of the pipe cleaners in the container.

What I like about this activity is that the child can easily self-check himself, as all segments with the same length are placed in the same column on the chart. It can also lead to discussions about units (inches vs. centimeters), the term length, and the reasoning behind why we measure from the beginning of the tape measure rather than from somewhere in the middle.

I must caution you… this activity often leads to lots and lots of measuring around your environment!

**As a safety precaution, you can substitute a metal tape measure with a cloth sewing tape measure, if you are afraid that your child may get cut from handling a metal tape measure.

535686_10150932236814256_601874255_1[2]Leann is a Christian homeschooling mama of an over-active 6 year old, proud wife of a cop, and pet lover of their two dogs and frogs. Her personal blog, Montessori Tidbits, chronicles their homeschooling journey, while throwing in tidbits about life, reviews, and recipes.

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  1. says

    I do teacher training workshops. I am writing to ask permission to use the photo of the tape measure and pipe cleaner math activity in a Power Point Presentation. I will credit your site and provide your URL.
    Please respond to:

    I look forward to hearing from you.

  2. Lea Ridley says

    Hi, Really love your maths and measurement. I’m asking for your permission to use your photo of the activity for my uni assessment. This will be added to my reference list. Regards Lea

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