Measurement is a big and complex concept. There are so many different ways we measure; we measure length, weight, time, volume and there are even units of measurement like the US standard or metric. All of these methods of measurement are concepts we have created to make it easier to share data as human beings, however to a preschooler, they are complete gibberish.

So how do we start teaching a preschooler about measurement? We begin with non-standard measurements. Concepts like inches, meters, and pounds are too abstract. BUT our preschoolers can begin to understand measurement if we measure things with our feet or even toothpicks. So this activity is all about measuring using toy cars!

Lil’ Explorers Focus Skills


  • Use nonstandard units to measure items (hand lengths, string lengths, etc.)

Lil’ Creators Focus Skills


  • Use nonstandard units to measure items (hand lengths, string lengths, etc.)
  • Compare 3 sets using the terms more, less, same as, equal to, most and least

Required Materials

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*Toy Cars

Household Items

Step #1

Gather a variety of household items that you are okay with your Lil’ measuring.

I used the following:

  • toy remote
  • book
  • magazine
  • see ‘n say
  • tablet
  • puzzle piece
Step #2

Line up toy cars next to an object to measure how many cars it takes to be the same length as that object.

Repeat this step for each object.

Step #3 (Lil' Creators)

If you have enough toy cars, use new cars for each item so that when you are done you can compare the measurements of each object. Ask questions like which object is equal to the most cars? The least? How do you know? Lets count how many cars equal each object.

I also encourage you to have your Lil’ make suggestions about what to measure (they may totally do this on their own anyway).

Teacher Tip

  1. Try to use cars that are similar in size. We have both matchbox cars and big Tonka trucks. I purposefully only took out the matchbox cars because the Tonka trucks are double the size of each matchbox car.
  2. This is a BIG concept, especially for our young Explorers, so have patience with your Lil’. Rea definitely did not grasp that we were measuring, but she did figure out that we were lining up the cars and counting them, so it is a step in the right direction.


I would love to see what you and your Lil’ one measured. Share with us what you think of this activity and pictures of your Lil’s learning.