Last week we posed the question “How big is a giant’s footprint?” after reading Jack and the Beanstalk. Some children showed us with their hands and others used things as a reference for measuring – “A giant’s footprint would be bigger than our classroom.” This prompted some more questions such as “If the giant’s footprint is as big as this classroom then how tall would he be? Would he be taller than a tree? A house? Would he reach up to the moon?”
We gave the children some A3 paper and asked them to draw a giant’s footprint on it and then see how many blocks long it was. We told them that when you’re measuring you need to start at one end of the thing you are measuring and continue in a straight line to the other end of the thing you are measuring. Then you count up how many blocks you used to see how long it is. Some children counted the blocks as they went along, sometimes forgetting which number they were up to, while others waited until they had all the blocks on and then counted.
I noticed that some children counted quite quickly and skipped a few. They didn’t quite have the concept of one to one correspondence so I taught them how to slow down and count the blocks one at a time. I demonstrated the technique of moving the blocks over a bit once I had counted them. I told the children that then it was easy to see which ones I had already counted.
It was also interesting to see the way the children put their blocks on. Some just picked out any random colours while others stuck to one colour. One child told me she was making a pattern and did the whole line in alternating yellow and green. After they had placed the blocks I got the children to recount the blocks to make sure they had measured correctly and then I wrote how many blocks long the giant’s foot was underneath.