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Sara Measures

About this video

Children in a mixed-age preschool at a rural community college were engaged in an investigation of cars. An automotive instructor had taken the children on a tour of the automotive lab, had demonstrated how several car parts work, and had answered many of their questions.

In response to their continued curiosity, the teacher placed several car parts in the sensory table for the children to explore. Paper, pencils, tape measures, and screwdrivers were provided as tools that the children could choose to use in their explorations. Observing the children as they explore car parts can reveal a great deal about their developmental levels. For example, Sara (5.8 years old) is able to use a tape measure correctly; she begins measuring by placing the end of the tape measure at the beginning of the piece she plans to measure. She attempts to record the results of her measurement on paper. Nic (4.6 years old) recognizes numerals and knows where to look on the tape measure to determine the length of an object. Paige (3.8 years old) mimics the use of the tape measure, but she does not know how to use it for measuring.



Sara: (Placing measuring tape across car part.) Now I’m gonna’ measure this. How long is it? (To Nic) Hold it please. Now I think it’s by…to…

Nic: Six.

Sara: Yeah. It says six. Now let’s see (measuring another piece). Four!

Nic: Four.

Sara: (Handing Nic a screw.) Will you please try and stick this in?

Nic: What?

Sara: I need to get this (places screw into hole in car part).

Nic: (Pulling the screw back out of the hole.) Do you want to take these apart? If you want to take them apart, you have to screw ‘em out. (After working for a while) Let’s work on the other side.

Sara: Uh huh.

Nic: Let’s work on this side. This is a special (attempting to unscrew a screw). This is the one that’s a special. Not this, this.

Sara: (Measuring another car part.) Six…no, it’s five really. (Sara uses a pencil and paper to record her findings. She writes the lower half of the numeral five but writes it upside-down.)

Paige: Five.

Nic: Let’s see the screws on this side (turning over car part). Hey, I got one that can do that (attempting to insert screwdriver into the head of the screw).

Paige: (Paige lays a tape measure across a car part; she releases the tape and it retracts quickly.)

Sara: (Selecting another car part.) Now let’s see how long this one is. I want to try to get this.

Benchmarks and How They Were Met

BenchmarksHow They Were Met
Language Arts
1.B.ECa: Use language for a variety of purposes.
Sara announced what she was doing (“Now I’m gonna measure this”) and what her findings were. She asked Nic to perform a task. Nic asked her for clarification (“Do you want to take these apart?”) and explained what to do to “if you want to take them apart.”
Language Arts
1.E.ECa: With teacher assistance, begin to use increasingly complex sentences.
On his own, Nic used several complex sentences (“If you want to take them apart, you have to screw ’em out.” “This is the one that’s special.”)
6.A.ECe: Differentiate numerals from letters and recognize some single‐digit written numerals.
Sara recognized numerals on the tape measure and read them aloud as she measured. She corrected herself once (“Six…no, it’s five really.”)
7.A.ECc: Use vocabulary that describes and compares length, height, weight, capacity, and size.
Sara used the term “how long” when measuring items in the sensory table.
7.C.ECa: With teacher assistance, explore use of measuring tools that use standard units to measure objects and quantities that are meaningful to the child.
Sara, Nic, and Paige demonstrated beginning understanding of measurement at varying levels by using a measuring tape with automobile parts. They stated their findings, and Sara attempted to record her findings on paper.
13.B.ECa: Use nonstandard and standard scientific tools for investigation.
Sara, Nic, and Paige used the tape measure and screwdrivers to investigate the automobile parts, with varying levels of ability.
Social/emotional Development
30.C.ECa: Exhibit eagerness and curiosity as a learner.
Sara and Paige enthusiastically measured car parts. Nic and Paige showed sustained curiosity about using screws and screwdrivers.

About this resource

Setting(s) for which the article is intended:
  • Child Care Center
  • Preschool Program

Intended audience(s):
  • Teachers / Service providers

Age Levels (the age of the children to whom the article applies):
Related Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards:
Reviewed: 2017