Explore measurement with these fun math books & tools for kids!
One of the most popular book requests I receive comes in the form of "Do you know of any good books that can help my child enjoy math?"
This request is not at all foreign to me as I've shared before that my child-who-can't-read-books-fast-enough is also the same kid that does not gravitate toward math.
However, put a math concept in the pages of a great book and presto!
So let's just say that my newest 'talent' is finding wonderfully engaging books that also highlight math concepts :)
And the second trick I've learned when it comes to math -- "It's all about the gear!"
Kids LOVE using math tools and are more likely to ask questions and want to explore various concepts if they can do something other than just pencil & paper math.
Today's book list will focus specifically on stories & fun math manipulatives (tools) that explore different types of measurement plus some great hands-on activities and challenges your kids can try too!
10 Math Books & Tools: Learning Measurement
Believe it or not, measurement is a tricky topic for kids.
When asked to measure a line, most kids know to reach for a ruler.
But what about if they were asked to measure the milk in their dinner cup?
Or how would you measure a blue whale? I'm not sure the whale would wait around if you used a ruler ;)
Since there are a number of ways to measure various objects, we thought the topic of measurement deserves it's own booklist.
And it also deserves it's own list of awesome tools that kids can use around the house to measure various items. This is the perfect hands-on math activity with many beginner and advanced concepts for kids of all ages.
Today we're introducing a variety of tools that can be used to measure various things. If you have any of the following items around the house, pull them out so your kids can use them while they read & try these math challenges:
- a ruler
- a yard stick
- a measuring tape
- a measuring cup
- a set of measuring cups or spoons
- a clock or watch
- a calendar
- a thermometer
- a compass (while we don't have a book for this tool, it's fun for kids to draw circles)
For each of the books on our list, we'll share some basic and advanced math challenges along with affiliate links for items that bring the topic to life at home!
Math Tool: Measuring Tape
Measuring Penny is a fun story about a young girl who's homework assignment is to measure something in several ways. So Lisa decides to measure her dog Penny! Although a variety of measuring items are discussed, we are focusing on using a measuring tape.
There are two types of measuring tapes that are great for kids -- the first is a flexible cloth tape measure that is used for sewing or to take measurements of a person's leg length for clothing. This is the one that's used in our story.
The second type of measuring tape is one used by carpenters and contruction crews which is usually a metal tape rolled up in a metal case -- but this is another great option for kids if you choose a kid-friendly Tape Measure as most aren't made with metal.
Both types of measuring tapes will include standard and metric units so be sure to review how they are similiar and different as you use them.
- Measure the length of your leg and the length of your arm -- which is longer?
- Measure the head of each person in your family -- who's head has the largest circumference?
Math Tool: Ruler with inches & metric units
Inch by Inch is an adorable story about an inchworm who is very proud that he can measure many things!
Most children will be very familiar with a ruler. Before they pick up a ruler, ask them to estimate an inch (either with their fingers or by drawing it on paper) and then use the ruler to see how close their estimate was to an actual inch.
- If you have a garden or indoor plants, use this How Fast Does My Plant Grow free printable to measure it's height.
- How long is your little finger in inches? How long is it in centimeters?
Math Tool: Yard Stick
How Long or How Wide?: A Measuring Guide (Math Is Categorical) uses funny examples to measure a variety of items with both standard and metric units. Kids will learn more about inches, feet, yards, millimeters, centimeters, decimeters and meters.
This might be a math tool that you don't have around the house -- sometimes a yard stick is harder to come by but I will say that many furniture stores have paper yard rulers available (since furniture and rooms are more likely to be larger). We have this cool folding ruler at our house that extends to 2 yards and it's fun to use for big projects. Yard sticks are easily found at your local hardware store too.
- Measure across your bedroom floor -- how many yards is it? how many feet would that be?
- Measure the length of your intestines with this fun math/science activity!
- List 5 things you should probably measure with a yard stick instead of a ruler (hint: think of long or tall items)
Math Tool: Any non-traditional measuring tool
Counting on Frank is a unique way to introduce non-standard measuring and estimation to kids! Frank asks some great questions like 'What if I drew with this pen until the ink ran out; how long would the line be?" Now you could measure the line with a ruler or yardstick, however, each pen would probably result in a different lenth of ink. Kids will see that math isn't always a precise science -- and when you can't get an exact measurement, you can use a good estimate.
- Set up some estimation jars with a variety of items and see how close you can 'estimate' the contents
- Think of something fun to measure that's normally not easy to do -- what math tool would you need to use?
Math Tool: Liquid Measuring Cup
In Pastry School in Paris: An Adventure in Capacity, Matt and Bibi are visiting Paris and taking a cooking class! In order to make their recipe (lollipops!), they have to measure the liquid ingredients.
There are a number of tools that are used for baking -- a measuring cup usually has both standard and metric measures for liquid -- liquids are measured in ounces or milliliters. Measuring spoons are used for smaller amounts of liquids and powered items especially when baking or doing science experiments! And a set of measuring cups will be used to measure dry ingredients.
My kids always ask, why can't you use a liquid measuring cup and set of measuring cups to measure the same ingredients? Because a cup is a cup, right?
Actually it's not the size as much as the type of item you are measuring for a recipe. Dry ingredients needs to be leveled off (which is easier to do with measuring cups) while it's easier to see the precise amount of liquid in a liquid measuring cup since you can pour it to the lined amount needed.
- Make a cup of hot cocoa by measuring the milk in a liquid measuring cup
- Take a glass out and estimate how many ounces of water will fit in the glass -- then use the measuring cup to measure out that amount and pour it into the glass. How close was your estimate?
Math Tool: Scale
Me and the Measure of Things actually introduces a LOT of measurement tools! The book also introduces kids to the idea of equivalent measures -- such as how many ounces in a cup. It's one of the few books that features the idea of when you should use a scale to measure an item.
There are various types of scales you might have in your home -- a kitchen & food scale can be used to weigh smaller items such as an apple while a bathroom scale is used to measure the weight of a person.
- If you don't have a scale at home, you can build your own scale with things from around the house!
- If you have a food scale, take out two pieces of fruit find out which weighs more - why do you think that is?
- If you have a bathroom scale, weigh yourself and then weigh yourself again while holding your favorite 3 books and a stuffed animal -- what's the difference in your weight?
Math Tool: Thermometer
What Will the Weather Be? (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2) is from one of our favorite early science series! The books not only introduces kids to a thermometer but also to other tools that are used to measure the weather (such as a baromter and wind vanes). Even though the illustrations seem to be for younger children, the science concepts will appeal to kids through age 10.
Like scales, there are many types of thermometers. A kitchen or cooking thermometer will measure the temperature of foods. An outdoor thermometer will measure the air temperature and let you know if you should wear a jacket when you head outside. And a personal thermometer measures body temperature (which can be measured via the mouth or ear). These days, most thermometers are digital but you can still find outdoor thermometers with a red liquid (usually alcohol-based) that can be used to tell the temperature.
- Use an outdoor thermometer to measure the temperature in the morning and again in the evening - which time of day is warmer?
- Use a kitchen thermometer to measure the temperature of your dinner tonight.
Math Tool: Calendar
In order to measure the number of days, months or years, we use calendars to help us track large amounts of time.
We couldn't find one book that was suitable for all audiences for this tool A Second, a Minute, a Week With Days in It: A Book About Time (Math Is Categorical) is a good book for younger kids and shows them how second & minutes turn into days & weeks with humor and fun illustrations. Older kids will enjoy The Story of Clocks and Calendars which goes into depth about the various time tracking devices that have been used throughout history. The book also explains the idea of the different calendars that exist around the world today.
- Use a calendar to find out many months & days until your birthday?
- Count the number of days left in the school year on your calendar (be sure to ONLY count school days!)
Math Tool: Clock or Watch
Another tool that measures time, a clock or watch tracks the number of hours, minutes or seconds.
Telling Time: How to Tell Time on Digital and Analog Clocks is a great book not only for teaching kids how to tell time overall but also for showing them the difference between analog and digital clocks! From experience, I will tell you that this is a challenge concept for kids to grasp -- especially since digital clocks are so easy for them to read.
- Use the second hand on a watch or clock to see how many jumping jacks you can do in 30 seconds.
- How long does it take your family to eat dinner? Use a clock to find out!
Math Tool: a Mirror
Not your normal math tool but a mirror is a great item to use when you're discussing size comparison especially when you're using your own body as part of the measurement.
More Life-Size Zoo: An All-New Actual-Size Animal Encyclopedia shows kids life-size pictures of animals! This concept works so well with kids because honestly, when can you get up close and personal with a lion without worrying about your safety ;) These books allow kids to see how they size up against many well-known animals.
- Use a mirror with the book More Life-Size Zoo and compare your head to the heads of animals in the book.
- Stand in front of a mirror with someone else in your family -- who is taller?
If you're looking for more books about counting & various math concepts, be sure to see our recommended reads on the Marvelous Math Books for Kids.
More Math Activities:
This post is part of the 28 Days of STEM Activities hosted by Left Brain, Craft Brain -- be sure to visit for more than 50+ STEM Activities & Ideas your kids will LOVE!