Measuring Length with Links

Use a School Readiness Activity to provide early mathematics thinking experiences for preschool children that will prepare them to do well in the early grades.
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Measuring Length with Links


  • To measure the length of items

Large paper clips or plastic links; half sheets of orange construction paper with an outline of a carrot on each one

Literature Suggestion
Read The Wolf's Chicken Stew by Keiko Kasza. Tell children that Mrs. Chicken cooked some nice sausage links for the wolf. Ask children if they have ever had sausage links and explain links.

how many

Provide children with 10 large paper clips or 10 plastic links. Give them free exploration time to play with the links and to practice connecting them and taking them apart. Then show children how to connect the right number of links to measure across the cover of a storybook or along one edge of a fish tank. Model the language of measurement with each example by saying something like, "I see that the book is 6 links tall and 5 links across."


  • Provide each child with about 10 links. Tell children that they are going to measure length. Hold up an unsharpened pencil and demonstrate how to measure its length by putting together links until the strand of links and the pencil are about the same length. Then count the links and say, "The length of my pencil is (number) links."
  • Explain that sometimes carrots are also good in stew. Distribute the paper carrots and help children use their paper clips or plastic links to measure the carrots. Help children count the number of links and tell the length of their carrots. Write the number on each paper and say, "The length of your carrot is (number) links."
  • Teacher Tip: For children who experience difficulty manipulating the paper clips or linking the links, provide another nonstandard unit measuring tool such as a building block.
As children become more confident and more competent, ask them to measure longer objects.

Observation Assessment

  • Proficient - Child can measure short lengths using links.
  • In Process - Child participates, but experiences difficulty understanding the concept of length and counting the links.
  • Not Yet Ready - Child is not yet ready to measure length using links.
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