When preschoolers are given the opportunity to experiment with part/whole relationships, they begin to understand measurement and basic fractions, as well as building toward addition and subtraction skills. A fun activity to help them learn the concept of measurement can be done in the bathtub or water table or–during hot summer months–in a pool.
Give your child a set of plastic measuring cups (these sets can often be found at the dollar store) and a small bucket. Let him experiment filling and pouring the water. This act is often a favorite of young children and can keep them occupied for long stretches of time. Ask questions such as “How many small cups does it take to fill up the big cup?” and “How many big cups does it take to fill up the bucket?” Your child will begin to understand that a whole has many parts.
Ask your child to put the cups in order from largest to smallest, or vice versa. Ask “Will it take more of the small cups to fill the bucket or more of the large cups?” and “Can you predict how many big cups will go into the bucket?” Then count together and see.
This activity helps children learn arithmetic, prediction, counting, estimating, and part/whole relationships. You and your child can continue to reinforce this concept in other ways, such as with apple or pizza slices.
When children are having fun, they learn concepts faster and better…they don’t even know they’re learning!
Caution: Young children should never be left unattended around water.
Measuring cup image source: eco-friendlycookware.com