Measuring Length in Steps


  • To measure distance in nonstandard units (steps)
  • To count nonstandard units (steps)

Chart paper, marker, masking tape; Good Night, Gorilla

how many

Literature Suggestion
Read Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathman. As you read, call children's attention to the steps that Joe takes between animals--with the clever little gorilla right behind him. Help children act out the walking parts of the story and count the steps.

Play "Big Steps and Little Steps" with the children. Ask them to listen carefully while you tell them how many and what size steps to take. Big steps are the biggest steps they can take; little steps are taken by placing one foot in front of the other, heel to toe.


  • On the floor, mark a short length (about 6 feet) with masking tape.
  • Show children how to measure in steps by counting in the number of big steps it takes to get from one end of the tape to the other.
  • As each child takes big steps, help the other children count the steps. Use the language of measurement after each child has taken a turn, saying, "The length of the masking-tape path is 7 big Leroy steps."
  • On chart paper, record each child's name and the number of steps. Leave the chart up and help children find their names and number of steps.
Have children measure the same masking-tape distance using other informal measures such as long blocks and little steps. Count aloud as each child measures the first time. Children measure a second time and count with you.

Observation Assessment

  • Proficient - Child begins measuring and understanding length in nonstandard units.
  • In Process - Child can take steps from one end of a short distance to the other end, but needs help counting and understanding measuring distance.
  • Not Yet Ready - Child is reluctant to participate in taking steps or counting, and does not yet measure distance.

Excerpted from School Readiness Activity Cards. The Preschool Activity Cards provide engaging and purposeful experiences that develop language, literacy, and math skills for preschool children.

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