Step 1: Gather materials.
- Flowers (real or artificial, at least two per child)
- A vase to hold the flowers
Note: Small parts pose a choking hazard and are not appropriate for children age five or under. Be sure to choose lesson materials that meet safety requirements.
Step 2: Introduce activity.
- Cut the stems of the flowers so that they are all different heights.
- Review the following vocabulary words: height, tall and short. Elicit responses from the children to develop working definitions of these words so that the children have a clear understanding of the vocabulary and can define these words using their own language and ideas.
- Choose a tall flower and a short flower to use as examples as you explain the concepts of “tall” and “short” to the children. As you hold up the tall flower, you might say: “This flower is tall.” As you hold up the short flower, you might say: “This flower is short.”
- Explain that short and tall are words that are used to describe height. Point to various objects in the room and describe their height, using language such as: “The bookcase is tall but the filing cabinet is short.”
Step 3: Engage children in lesson activities.
- Choose two flowers with different heights and place them side by side in front of the children. As you point to the tall flower and then to the short flower, say: “This flower is taller than this flower.” As you point to the short flower and then to the tall flower, say: “This flower is shorter than this flower.”
- Using the same two flowers, ask: “Which flower is taller?” Children can respond individually or in unison. Then, using the same two flowers, ask: “Which flower is shorter?” Acknowledge the children’s responses by echoing and pointing out which flower is taller and which flower is shorter.
- Ask each child to choose two flowers of different heights from the upright container. Allow the children to handle and explore their two flowers for a few minutes.
- Go around the group and ask each child: “Which of your flowers is taller?” and “Which of your flowers is shorter?”
- Ask the children to compare their flowers with their friends’ flowers to determine which is taller and which is shorter.
- Bring the group back together and ask the children to determine who has the tallest flower and who has the shortest flower.
- Give each child three or four flowers of at least three different heights. Ask them to put the flowers in order from tallest to shortest, using comparative measurement vocabulary (e.g., tall, taller, tallest or short, shorter, shortest).
- Have two children stand next to one another and discuss who is taller and who is shorter. Compare various pairs of children.
- Remove the petals from different types of flowers (real or artificial), compare the lengths of the petals and determine which petal is longer and which petal is shorter.
Step 4: Vocabulary.
- Height: The measurement from the top to the bottom of an object (e.g.,”Today we are going to compare the heights of our flowers.”)
- Tall, taller, tallest: Used to compare stature/height (e.g.,”Which of your flowers is taller?”)
- Short, shorter, shortest: Comparison words for height or length (e.g.,”Which of your flowers is shorter?”)
Step 5: Adapt lesson for toddlers or preschoolers.
Adapt Lesson for Toddlers
- need help understanding the concept of an object being taller or shorter than another object
Child care providers may:
- ask the children to categorize the flowers into tall flowers and short flowers
- suggest different attributes that the children can use to categorize the flowers (e.g., colors, types of flowers, artificial/real)
Adapt Lesson for Preschoolers
- have grasped the concepts of tall and short and are fluent in the use of comparative vocabulary (e.g., taller, tallest, shorter, shortest)
Child care providers may:
- give each child three or four flowers of at least three different heights and ask the child to put the flowers in order from tallest to shortest, using comparative measurement vocabulary (e.g., tall, taller, tallest or short, shorter, shortest).
- ask two children to stand next to one another and discuss who is taller and who is shorter; compare various pairs of children.
- remove the petals from several different types of flowers (real or artificial), compare the lengths of the two petals and determine which petal is longer and which petal is shorter.
- Tall and Small: A Book about Height by Kate Gilbert Phifer (New York: Walker & Co, 1987)
- Length by Henry Arthur Pluckrose (Chicago, IL: Children’s Press, 1995)
- Size by Henry Arthur Pluckrose (Chicago, IL: Children’s Press, 1995)
Music and Movement
- Play an exercise game. Ask the children to duplicate your motions as you make yourself into a short tree by squatting down and a tall tree by reaching as high as possible. As you make the movements, say: “Short” and “Tall.”
- Play the game, “I’m Very, Very Tall.”