Find and Measure Plants

Child measuring a plant.

Measure plants using a measuring tool. How do you know plants are growing?

15 minutes


Get Ready

Materials you will need:

  • Cell phone or iPad camera
  • Paper clip
  • Packaging tape (clear)
  • Scissors
  • Plant Measuring Strip PDF
  • This Is the Way a Plant Grows: Lyrics PDF
  • Optional: Crayons or markers
  • Optional: Heavy paper
  • Optional: Printer
Materials PDF

Things to do before the activity:

  • Print a copy of the measuring strip or draw it onto heavy paper. Cut it out and tape the pieces together. Optional: Cover it with clear packaging tape to make it more durable.
  • Talk about different places in your neighborhood where you can find plants. Plants can grow in cracks in the sidewalk or buildings, community gardens, outdoor potted plants, grocery stores, apartment building grounds, and so on.
  • Together, sing and act out the song “This Is the Way a Plant Grows.”

A character with a speech bubble and rabbit with a thought bubble.

Practice measuring how tall people are!

And measure plants too!


Step 1.

Before you go outside, measure how tall your child is using the measuring strip. Place the number 1 next to your child’s feet. Point out how you start to measure at the bottom of an object. Place a paper clip on the measuring strip at the top of your child’s head to mark your child’s height. Count together the number of units up to the paper clip to find out how tall your child is. Have your child spread her arms out wide. Measure across from one hand to the other to determine how wide her stretch is.

  • Talk together about how measuring the width of something is different from measuring the height. What do you notice?

Step 2.

Go outside and find plants. Look on the ground, in pots, and in lots of other places! When you find a plant, measure how wide or tall it is! Measure how wide a plant is by holding the measuring strip across the plant from one side to the other.

  • Talk about how plants change. For example, seeds sprout, stems rise, and flowers droop.
  • Point out how plants take time to grow.
  • What are some things that help plants grow tall?
  • Measure to find out how many units bigger or smaller the plant is than your child.

Step 3.

Take photos of the plants you measure. Try to include the measuring strip in each photo.

  • Together, count how many units tall the plant is. How many units wide is it?

Step 4.

Take a break if your child starts to lose interest. Sing and act out “This Is the Way a Plant Grows.” Make your “plant” wiggle and jiggle as it grows! Then go back to measuring.


Look at the photos together.

  • Use the measuring strip in each photo to compare the height and width of the plants. Which plant is tallest, shortest, widest, thinnest?
  • How many plants are taller than (3) units? Shorter than (8) units?
  • Describe each plant. Include plant parts and clues that show growth, such as buds or sprouting