You might think grading or sequencing by size is simple because, after all, very young children may master stacking cups to make a tower, or nesting them back afterwards. You can start with maybe 3 or 4 of the set. Put the biggest ready and the others nearby. If the child does nothing, you can demonstrate or say Where’s the big one? because from the ones that are ready, the ‘big one’ will be the correct one. There is no need to be precise about the ‘biggest’ and this also works when nesting the cups afterwards. If the child doesn’t take the biggest, then a further cup will hide it on the way up, and the rest of the cups won’t fit in when nesting. Some get the hang of it very quickly and eye up the group and deliberately select the correct one. Others operate a trial and error method, especially with nesting where brute force demonstrates very quickly that a bigger cup will not fit into a smaller one. Others bash away and don’t seem to see the point at all.
Moving on from a simple toy like this shows up differences in understanding. It is always helpful to use size words around the home but there’s actually quite a lot taken for granted. To make sense of That’s a big apple! we have to be aware of the size apples usually are. And animals can be big to a child but as adults we see them as not really big as animals go.
Stories like Goldilocks and the Three Bears are popular because they offer several chances to talk about well-known objects and the sizes are relevant to many kids: there’s a daddy one, a mummy one and a baby one. And in the home the principle is visible with socks, boots etc.
But size isn’t constant – the baby chair is bigger than the daddy bowl. We must compare within each set to see how the sizes relate to each other.
This introduction tries to point out that it isn’t as easy as it at first seems! But learning about grading size is important and a beginning of grading by other features. Early maths targets will look at length, weight, height, groups of objects and finally we must master the number system and the constancy of numbers. 3 things are 3 things whatever the object is, and a group of 9 ants has more things in it than a group of 3 hedgehogs.
Then in English we have extra complications grading amounts by using more and the most to compare with both fewer/the fewest (things in a group) and less/the least (stuff like sugar and hair – uncountable nouns).
So – keep going and never be fooled into thinking it’s simple!
SIZE GRADING USING OBJECTS, PICTURES AND TEXT size grade 1 Work from real objects through matching pictures up to using general knowledge and the ability to think abstractly to sequence non-matching pictures, and then text.
MATCH PHOTOS, SYMBOLS size grade 2 11 common objects are shown as photos and symbols in two sizes.
GRADING/MATCHING size grade 3 3 sets of 6 cards in 3 sizes: fish, birds, turtles.
COMPARE AMOUNTS size grade 4 One introductory page to create sentences with – you could write some down as they are created as the words used to compare amounts of uncountable nouns (such as hair, sugar and paper) can be hard to get right. Plus two sets of cards with lots of comprehension tasks for each. Thinking skills required!