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The focus of today's activity is length vocabulary!


Over the next few days we are going to be exploring length!  We have looked at length before in class so your child should be familiar with the key vocabulary and is aware of key elements of how to measure. We will be building on these skills this week.


For today's activity we would like you to use a material such as playdough or clay. We have attached a method/recipe below if you would like to make your own. We make our own playdough in school - it is great for being cost effective and if placed in a sealed bag after use it will keep for a little while too! You can experiment with colours and even add some glitter...just make sure they don't eat any playdough!

With your playdough we would like your child to make snakes, worms, wands, sausages, caterpillars, slugs...whatever captures their imagination that is easy to give length too!  You will see from your child making these that playdough is a fantastic resource for developing fine motor skills.


Ask your child to make one snake/worm/sausage. Then ask them to make another but this time it has to be a different length. Once they have made it ask them is it longer or shorter than the first? How do they know?


In class we have explored in a previous measuring activity that to compare length we need to make sure that they start from the same point, like the children have done with objects in the following pictures...

We would then continue and ask your child to make more of their chosen item but at different lengths. You can direct them by asking...

-Can you make a ___ that is longer than this one?

-Can you make a ___ that is shorter than this one?


Once they have finished making approximately six (no more than eight at this point!) that are all of different length then we start to compare and order by length, again using the same measuring starting point as above.   Allow your child to compare and order independently first...don't worry if they make mistakes. Some of the best learning can come from making mistakes!


Once they have ordered them ask...

-Show me the longest.

-Show me the shortest.

-Show me one that is longer than this one (point to a shorter length piece)

-Show me one that is shorter than this one (point to a longer length piece)


Then give your child some labels with the words - shorter, shortest, longer, longest. Can they match these labels to the correct lengths?  Below are some vocabulary cards if you would like these for ease to print, alternatively you can make your own labels.

By the end of this activity your child should be able to correctly match the vocabulary long, short, longer, shorter, longest and shortest to the objects made independently.  They should then be able to compare and order by length from shortest to longest with four-five objects.


If your child needs further practice, reinforcement or using playdough isn't a viable option for you, you can use coloured spaghetti too...

Coloured spaghetti is very easy to make. Simply cook the spaghetti as normal, strain and rinse it in a colander, sit it in a bowl of coloured water (using food colouring) for a couple of hours. Afterwards drain the bowl and spaghetti...there you have it - coloured spaghetti! You can create several colours by having several bowls of different coloured water and dividing the cooked spaghetti between the bowls.  There is a link below to a website that also shows you how to make it in more detail. 

With coloured spaghetti your child can cut with scissors to make the spaghetti the desirable lengths and complete the activity as above. Take care though to do it on a suitable worksurface!


You can even build this activity into your outdoor walk. Collect sticks or leaves of varying lengths and compare and sort at the end of your walk!


Need a stepping stone?

Start from the beginning and gradually build it up. Begin by comparing just two lengths and establishing long and short. Which one is long? Which one is short? Then build on this to include one more. Thinking about the words longer, shorter. Then put three objects in order from shortest to longest.  Keep practising and building on this and as they become confident add in a couple more to compare and order using the vocabulary shortest and longest explicitly .


Need a further challenge?

Go around the house and find a wide range of objects (at least 12) that vary in length, and shape if you want to make it extra challenging. Everyday household objects works well.  Then ask your child to order these from shortest to longest.  Once they have done this, ask them to close their eyes. Swap two objects and ask them to spot the ones out of order and reorder.  You can then give them extra objects to place into their already ordered line!