Measures in the primary curriculum

Overview

Within the six strand units of measures the children must be given frequent opportunities to undertake practical activities. These activities are particularly useful in facilitating linkage within the strand units. Fractions, decimals, percentages and operations can be applied in measuring activities.

Children learn how to select the correct measuring instruments and the most appropriate strategy for tackling a particular problem. Problems set in these strands should be mainly practical, with the totals easily verified by measuring. Initially children work with the measuring unit present, i.e. the metre stick, half metre measure or centimetre. This provides a visual reference when estimating and assists in the development of the concept of a metre or centimetre.

Children should be taught from an early age to estimate the weight, length or capacity of an object. This can be done by comparison, using a labelled object that weighs one kilogram, for example a bag of sugar. The child can feel the weight of the labelled object and compare it with the test object by hand weighing. The actual weight can be discovered by usingĀ  weighing scales.

Children will need to handle and use a wide variety of materials within each strand. They will need to investigate the capacity of tall, narrow containers and short, wide containers. They can then discuss and compare their findings. Activities in weight can include the comparison of the weight of a small, heavy ball of Plasticine with the weight of a large bag of polystyrene.

When learning about capacity they will need to become familiar with the major and minor markings on containers and note the differences between the various methods of marking.