Suppose a child looks at you and says, “I want the ball.” You look down to grab the ball, but you see many balls of different sizes. You ask the child which ball she wants. She says, “I want the little ball.” When children know about size, it helps them communicate with others.
Children are exposed to ideas about size every day. They think a lot about themselves and the fact that they are small. They learn that some small things are for children, and some larger things are for adults. For example, children may sit at the small table in small chairs and drink from small cups. They may learn that they can fit in some places where adults cannot. When children go to the park, they can see that their caregivers and parents are too big for some toys. These are great times to talk with children about size.
Children learn about size as they play.
Some toys are made to help children think about size. One example is cups
that fit inside of each other (nesting toys). Other toys can help children
learn about size, too. Children may try to put pieces from one toy into
another. They will notice that sometimes some pieces fit and some don’t.
Children learn about their size compared to other people and things. As children grow, they get too big for their parents to carry them. They will also notice that they get too big for some playthings, like riding toys or dress-up clothes. Some children learn about size by building forts. They may have secret passages that they fit through — until they grow bigger. Other children “accidentally” put their head through a railing and get it stuck.
Adults can talk with children about how size is important to them. For example, size is important when parents try to fit a couch through a door. It is also important when driving a car into a garage. Even arranging things in the refrigerator gives adults a chance to talk about size.
When children first learn about size,
they think things are either big or little. So they think all elephants
are big, even though baby elephants are littler than grown-up elephants.
They may think all bugs are little, even though the beetle they are looking
at is very large for a bug. With time, children learn to understand size
in more advanced ways. They learn that size is relative. This means that
when a child is talking about the size of an apple, should compare it
to something else. An apple is little compared to a beach ball, but big
compared to an ant. And some apples are bigger or smaller than other apples.
As a childcare provider, you probably talk with children in your care about size. Children usually think of size in opposites: big-little, large-small, tall-short, long-short, wide-narrow, thick-thin, and deep-shallow. When children say something about size, you can talk with them about it more. You can encourage parents to do this, too.
For example, if a boy says that a toy
truck is long, you can say more about the truck being long. You could
say, “Look how long it is next to this truck.” You could ask
him which part of the truck is long, why it’s good to have a long
truck, and what he can do with it. Or, you might ask if it’s long
enough to carry certain toys that are nearby. You could also ask him if
he has ever been in a long truck.
children sort objects by size. When setting the table, have children talk
about the size of cups, plates, etc. Do
1. The Discovery Channel is full of information and activities.
Put “size” into one of many search engines and discover more.
2. Jig Zone offers puzzles online. You can make your photos
into puzzles or subscribe to put together their puzzles online.
For more information, contact Judith A. Myers-Walls, PhD, CFLE at email@example.com
Please feel free to link to, print off, redistribute, or reprint any of these materials as long as the original credits remain intact.
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