Egyptians used string. They knotted it and stretched it to do
their measuring. A very young child can get the idea of making
geometric measurements the same way. Children can begin to
comprehend the rudiments of geometry with string by being
In kindergarten and
first and second grade, a teacher can take children's
measurements and use their respective heights as basic
length-units for having them measure things in the immediate
environs. That's what the Egyptians did. They called the
surveyors "rope-stretchers." A string with knots carefully made
at both ends becomes your basic line segment.
Children (with the
aid of classmates) stretch these strings alongside things in
school and at home, and the notions of size, scale, proportion,
and even space itself become concrete and accessible.
matching. I am this big. The length of my tricycle, parked,
takes up this amount of space, less than my height.
This measured "me"
as a length-unit should be arrived at with deliberate care for
accuracy. An effort to do this will make your students conscious
that the mark on the paper, or the string itself against the
wall, is not something arbitrarily arrived at.