Friendly worms


You can help your child to use appropriate maths language to describe different lengths.

What you need:

Play dough - click for recipe (PDF, 325KB)

What to do:

Have your child explore the play dough, making and talking about different shapes. Suggest that your child makes some pretend worms or snakes with the dough.

Have them lay two straight worms, side by side, telling and showing you which worm is the longer, which is the shorter or saying if they are the same length.

Now ask your child to line up more than two worms, side by side, but with each worm’s head at the edge of the table. (It is important when children are comparing lengths that all lengths have the same starting place).

Have them use language of “longer, shorter, longest, shortest, nearly as long as, much shorter than, the same length as…”

Together use the correct language of width to describe worms: “wider, narrower or thinner, widest, narrowest, the same width as…”

Pose problems such as:
“Can you make the second shortest worm crawl away? Tell me about the worms that are left.”
“Make the longest worm crawl away. Now which is the longest? How do you know?”
“Can you make the thinnest or narrowest worm crawl away. Now tell me about the worms that are left behind…...” etc. 

What to expect your child to do:

  • Correctly use the specific language associated with length and width, instead of using ‘bigger or smaller’, as this is not necessarily specific to length. 
  • Correctly order their worms from longest to shortest and from widest to narrowest, describing their actions as they do so.

He Kupu Māori:

playdough poikere
worm noke, toke
straight worm noke torotika
length roa
longer he roa ake
much longer he tino roa ake
shorter he poto ake
much shorter he tino poto ake
longest he roa rawa atu
shortest he poto rawa atu
same length he ōrite te roa
almost same length he pātata te roa
width/breadth whānui
wider he whānui ake
widest he whānui rawa atu
much wider he tino whānui ake
thin/narrow whāiti, tūpuhi
thinner/narrower he whāiti ake
thinest he whāiti rawa atu

He Whakawhitinga Kōrero:

  • Hangaia he noke tino roa. (Make a very long worm.)
  • Hangaia he noke whānui ake i tēnā. (Make a wider/fatter worm than that.)
  • Hangaia kia rua ngā noke. (Make two worms.)
  • Whakatakotoria ngā noke tētahi ki raro i tētahi. (Place the worms one under the other.)
  • Ko ngā upoko o ia noke ka tīmata i te tapa o te tēpu, kia kitea ai ko tēhea te noke roa ake, ko tēhea te noke poto ake. (The heads of each worm should start at the edge of the table so we can see which worm is longer and which worm is shorter.)
  • Pēhea nei te rahi o tēnei noke? (How big is this worm?)
  • He whānui, he tūpuhi rānei tēnei noke? (Is this worm wide/fat or thin?)

Download a file of this activity:

PDF (257KB)