Series: Early Math Lists

4 Books About Measurement that Spur Children’s Thinking


Big and small, empty and full. Children measure all of the time, even if they’re not using rulers or numbers while doing so. There are many great children’s books about measurement that spur on their natural fascination with the subject. Here are a few of our favorites.

  1. Inch by Inch by Leo Lionni

    A wonderful illustrator and children’s book author, Leo Lionni describes a peppy little inch worm and his desire to measure an assortment of birds, keeping him out of harm’s way. In the end he needs to outwit a nightingale using his resourceful measuring skills. Creative measuring tools—hands, feet, paper clips—are featured, which can introduce children to the attributes involved with measuring procedures even if they are still working on their counting skills.

  2. Just a Little Bit by Ann Tompert

    Pastel watercolors, a whimsical tone, and a lot of animals combine in one of our favorite books about measurement. When a tiny mouse and gigantic elephant can’t quite play with the seesaw the way it is meant to be played, it takes help from a zebra, a giraffe, a lion, and a whole host of others to balance the scale. It is a cute romp and a great introduction to weight and measurement.

  3. Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola

    This timeless tale recounts the story of a grandma witch doctor who takes on an assistant named Big Anthony. An attempt by Big Anthony to replicate a spell to create mounds of pasta in a magic pot results in huge amounts of pasta overflowing into the village. This fun story is a fantastic way to explore capacity in your measurement activities.

  4. Life-Size Zoo: From Tiny Rodents to Gigantic Elephants, An Actual-Size Animal Encyclopedia by Teruyuki Komiya

    To get kids thinking about ideas like big and small, estimation, and comparison, consider taking a look at this entertaining “encyclopedia.” It features high-quality, life-size photographs of animals displayed on oversize pages. Some pages even fold out to fit larger images. Comparing the size of the animals with each other (or with the readers!) is a good place to start mathematical conversation.

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Common Core Alignment

Measurement and Data More

Foundational Math Concepts

Source: Early Math at Work newsletter • Copyright: Erikson Institute • Content ID: Not specified

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"At Kohl Children’s Museum, we partner with a great team of early childhood researchers, professional development providers and teachers at Erikson Institute’s Early Math Collaborative. One of the methods they promote is Mathematizing Daily Experiences. Simply put, mathematizing is using everyday activities and items to talk about math with young children."

What do you think?

  1. Comment icon

    Laura Englehart

    February 18, 2015 at 7:58pm

    I think the change in the common core standard to include WRITING of numbers for Kindergarten children will and has changed how math looks in Kindergarten. It is forcing another force toward pushing the pencil on worksheets to allow for that writing and reading of numerals to occur. We need to ensure that Kindergartners are given plenty of opportunities to feel, manipulate and count real objects in a mathematical critical-thinking way.

  2. Comment icon

    Jeanine Brownell

    February 19, 2015 at 9:53am

    For most states, the expectation that kindergarteners write numerals is not new. However, I absolutley agree that numeral writing worksheets are handwriting practice and not “doing math.” Measurement and data are compelling contexts for children to record numerals such as how many blocks tall a structure is or how many heel-toe steps down the hallway. Games work well too–what kid doesn’t want to write down the points they earn?! Thanks for advocating for keeping kindergarten math both developmentally appropriate and focused on mathematical thinking!

    • Comment icon

      Jana Byrd

      February 27, 2015 at 11:45am

      Well stated, Jeanine Brownell.

  3. Comment icon

    Maria T.

    July 27, 2017 at 7:41am

    These books are wonderful because numbers and reading should not be separate as the national curriculum often encourages. I think children should be exposed to math organically (in flower symmetry, in measurement, etc.) and encouraged to communicate their process when it comes to understanding concepts such as base ten and more v. fewer.

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