Building Towers with Unifix Cubes

Delivery Method: 

Ben and Lane, two four-year-old boys, work along side each other building towers with Unifix cubes. As the clip beings, the children share their goal, to build towers that are “big” and “high.” Here’s what they say: 

Lane exclaims, “Ben, look how high it’s up to me. Ben, look how high it’s up to me” (00:03). 
Ben replies, “Whoa” (00:05), and says, “Mine will be as big as ever” (00:06).
Lane says, “Yeah, I’ll build mine maybe up to the ceiling even” (00:09).
Ben says, “Yeah, mine is big” (00:13).
Lane says, “Aw, I’m using this (adds a length of 5 Unix cubes to his tower). Oh Ben, this is what – mine’s gonna be pretty high” (00:17).
Ben replies, “Mine too” (0:23).
Lane says, “Look it, Ben” (00:25)
Ben replies, “Whoa, that’s high” (00:27).

Lane makes several interesting height comparisons as he continues adding Unifix cubes to his tower. Identify at least four. What do you think these comparisons reveal about the boys understanding of measurement?

Unlike other building materials, Unifix cubes allow the children to easily change location while their tower structures remain intact (e.g., tabletop, floor). In what way do you think this flexibility may support the children’s thinking?

Resourcefully, the boys add qualifying adjectives to the descriptive phrases they use to mark their progress building towers, e.g., “mine is big” (00:14), “mine’s huge” (01:53), “mine is bigger” (02:05), “pretty high” (00:22), “super high” (01:08). What strategies could the teacher suggest to help the children better define and articulate the comparisons they are trying to make?

Unifix cubes provide the children with a standard unit of measurement, similar to a tape measure or a ruler. What comparisons and/or predictions could the teacher encourage the children to make in order to help Ben and Lane learn about the conventions of standard measurements?

Length of video: 2 minutes 53 seconds