Jan 21, 2016

WonderWorks: Comparative Size

Which is bigger? Smaller? Medium-er?

Today's Topic: Comparative Size*
Supplies (these are just for inspiration--look through your own supplies to see what else might work):
Nesting toys (or a set of nesting bowls)
stacking toys
measuring cups
printable nesting dolls (great examples here and here)
bouncy balls in a variety of sizes

  cover art Small smaller smallest / Fletcher, Corina

After I read the book: In the first class of the day, I just quickly explained the activities and we moved right to the tables and we got a lot of this sort of action:
Which, while lots of fun, didn't really get at the content I was trying to introduce, SO for the second class, after we finished reading the book, I pulled out a set of stuffed monsters I'd brought in from home and we worked as a group to line them up from biggest to smallest.  Then, I asked everyone to stand up and asked the kids to line up the grown-ups from tallest to shortest (because if we'd lined up the kids, the would have had trouble seeing the line while also standing in the line):
And only THEN did we move to the tables to continue that activity.  The second class really seemed to "get it" better and I think starting off with activities where the whole group was contributing to the sorting made it a low-stakes effort.  I also reduced the number of items I put out on the tables for the second class (the first class, in addition to the supplies listed above, also had velcro hair rollers and empty spools)

What the kids actually did once we went to the tables: 
 organized things from smallest to biggest

lots of scooping (those measuring cups were a huge hit and gave a supplementary lesson on volume as well!)

 "This cup holds the most pompoms because it's the biggest!"
 Lots of pretend play-- these are two "cakes" that he made.  The tall cake is for him and the short cake is for his mom.  (Great lesson learned here--if you DON'T stack them in nesting order, you get fabulous TALL results!)

A snowman

a super long caterpillar
 "it's wearing a hat!"
 Not sure if this has a back story, but what fun to match up the disks into the cups that are the right size!
I think he said he was building a hamburger here?  (hey mom-of-this-child, can you remember?)
 I also included this printable stacking doll for some art engagement.  My only gripe is that the largest doll is #1 and the smallest is #24 (with numbers printed on their bellies) which was counter-intuitive for the kids.  But hey, it's free and great scissor skill practice.

Adult Challenge of the week:  Watch! Rather than worrying about whether your kid lines up the objects exactly in size order (or lines them up at all), just watch and observe how they interact with the materials provided.  They'll be learning about SOMETHING no matter what they choose to do!

Hindsight Tips: 
--The most effective examples of this concept were the nesting objects.  Those were the things that looked very different if you arranged them in order vs. out of order.  If you can get some actual nesting dolls or any other nesting or stacking toys, do so!
--While it's pretty easy to find the biggest and smallest in a set, the fine-tuning of the middle ground is often a bit more challenging.  You might want to address that during the instructions.

 Variations to try: 
--If everyone takes off their shoes in your library programs, have them line up shoes by size.
--Grab a bunch of different sized books off your shelves and have kids line them up in order (you can have a related conversation about lining the books up according to how many pages or how many words are in them too!)
--Here are some more ideas!
--And more ideas!

Related App:
GeoMatry by Fernando Pires

*Note: While I randomly chose the term "comparative size," it seems that this concept is more formallly known in math education circles as "seriation" or "ordering/sequencing by size." For more information about teaching children about size and measurement, watch this short video.

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