Measuring Up

measuresEverything, in homeschooling, connects; sometimes home education has a lot in common with “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.” You know how it goes: you’re reading Aesop’s “The Grasshopper and the Ants” and somebody asks how grasshoppers are different from crickets; and in no time at all you’ve wandered off into how to determine the temperature by timing the rate of cricket chirps and then they decide to read The Cricket in Times Square and then somebody wants to know how the New York City subway works and then… You all know what I mean. A case in point around here was the study of measurement.

Starting in kindergarten or so, according to the math manuals, kids should be encouraged to investigate the science and mathematics of measurement in active hands-on fashion, comparing and contrasting the lengths, heights, weights, areas, and volumes of various objects using nonstandard (how many pencils long is the kitchen table?) and standard (inches, feet, yards, centimeters, meters) measures. My initial forays into this flopped: our kids, no matter how charmingly encouraged, showed little interest in determining how many paper clips could be lined up end to end across a desk top or how many teaspoons it took to equal the length of the piano bench.

Instead what caught their fancy was James Thurber’s Many Moons.

Continue reading – free online – Rebecca Rupp’s Good Stuff column, Measuring Up, in the May-June 2003 issue of Home Education Magazine.

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