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Learning how to measure and compare sizes can be a difficult concept for many kiddos. They may know their daddy is big and they are small, but understanding how big other things are can be difficult. Teaching them to measure is a great way to help them grasp this concept and introduce them to early math skills. This super fun and cute hippo activity, part of our Safari Adventure Activity Plans, is a great way to teach them about hippos and measuring! Let’s see how to teach measurement and size to preschoolers with this hippo activity!

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What you need to teach measurement and size to preschoolers:

  • Tape measure or long piece of yarn
  • Marker
  • Paper Roll
  • Optional Hippo Footprints (print below) and paint

How to teach measurement and size to preschoolers with Hippos:

Before beginning this project, we recommend you read a story, such as Mouse and Hippo, and talk about how big hippos can be. An average hippo can be 10-16 feet long! Mouse and Hippo is a nice story for this because you can talk about how big the hippo is compared to the mouse.

First, roll out your paper and measure.

You want to use a big roll of paper for this so your kiddo can see how big hippos really are. Roll the paper out so you have plenty of space. Remember a hippo can be 16 feet long! Decide how long you want your “hippo” to be and roll out the paper to be about that long.

Show your toddler how to use a tape measure or ruler to measure the distance. They won’t understand all the numbers yet, most likely, but you can show them how the numbers get bigger and tell them what number you are looking for.

Next, compare their height.

This is where this project gets really fun. Have your kiddo lay down on the paper and mark how tall they are. Then show them how much longer the hippo is!

You can also figure out how many of them it would take to reach the length of the hippo. This can really help them understand how much bigger it is.

For extra credit, lay down yourself and show them that the hippo is even bigger than you!

Now, It’s time to make muddy footprints!

While you can stop after measuring the length of the hippo, making these muddy footprints can be a lot of fun!

Make hippo footprints using the free template below. Use the template to cut 2 hippo feet from sturdy cardboard. Punch a few holes in the feet and then run some string through the holes, like laces. Tie the hippo feet to your toddler’s feet. Now they have hippo shoes!

Plop some brown paint on the paper for the “mud” and have your toddler walk through it and down the length of the hippo, making muddy footprints the whole way.

*The paint can be a little slippery for the first step, so give your child the support they need.

hippo toddler activities
hippo toddler activities
hippo toddler activities muddy footprints

This project provides a great opportunity for learning and practicing gross motor skills. Teaching the basic concepts of length in this way will give your preschooler the exposure to the concept, without overwhelming them with information they aren’t ready to understand. If your toddler really loves the measuring part of the project, let them use the ruler around the house to measure and ask them how long things are. Practicing this with them in a fun way will help them understand even more.

We hope you loved this activity! If you want more Hippo Fun, check out our Activity Plans here:

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