The Measuring Pencil

Closeup view of the tip of a pencil.

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This evening kiddo was drawing with a pencil, when she somehow came up with the idea to measure herself with the pencil. “I’m seven pencils tall,” she informed me. She measured me, my boyfriend, her sister, and pretty much everything in the house.

I’m not sure how she came up with the idea to measure things with the pencil, but it made me think about how amazing children’s brains are, and how they will come up with the most incredible ideas on their own. She did not receive any prompting from me to measure anything, although her sister told me that she may have gotten the idea from an episode of Curious George where he measures himself with a stick of licorice. Even if that was where she got the idea, she hasn’t seen that episode recently but she still made the connection between measuring with a licorice stick and measuring with a pencil.

Kiddo has constantly amazed me with the things that she learns – things that I have no idea where she learned them. She is much more observant than I give her credit for, and she figures out a lot of things on her own. Watching her, as well as the children that I teach, makes me realize that children know more than we think they do, and they are much more capable than we think they are. That is one of the reasons why the constructivist philosophy in education is so appealing to me. In it children have the freedom to express their own ideas and make connections, such as the one my daughter made with the pencil. If she had been prodded by me to measure something with the pencil or a ruler, she probably wouldn’t have been as enthusiastic as she was about measuring everything in the house, and I may have tried to teach her at a time when she wasn’t as receptive to learning the process of measuring something. As it was, she did just fine measuring chairs, books, and people on her own. Of course, since she is four years old, her measurements weren’t all that accurate, but she had the basic idea of how to measure something and to me that is all that is important at four years old. No doubt she will figure the rest out later.