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How to Teach Young Kids about Distances

Updated on March 10, 2015
Felisa Daskeo profile image

I am a certified teacher and have been tutoring young children for more than 30 years. I am sharing my experience in the tutorial business.

The bird is near the boy.

Teaching Distances

Now that the children know the sizes, the next thing that they should learn is about distances. If you have been following my previous articles, I have discussed about the different sizes. This lessons are related to each other so they at least have ideas what you are talking about.

Very few young kids know the meaning of distances. They don’t know if an object is far or near. They also don't understand the meaning of high and low. This is why you have to find a good technique to explain the lesson to them without confusing them.

As much as possible, use concrete materials inside the classroom to which the young kids could easily relate too. This will make learning for the children more fun and interesting which will help for a more effective learning.

I use the words below to teach distances.

  • high – low
  • higher – lower
  • highest – lowest
  • near – far
  • nearer – farther
  • nearest – farthest

Low and high

Lowest and higest

Introduce the lesson by using actual things like the shelf in the room. It is important that the children will see the difference of high and low.

For example:

Put a box on top of the shelf and another box at the lower rung of the shelf. Explain to the children that you cannot easily reach the box on top because the box is high. Touch the box at the lower rung and let the children see that you can easily reach for the box because it is low. The activity will give the children an idea about what you are talking about.

Site other examples. Get a picture of a mountain and a hill. Ask the children if they can guess which is high and which is low.

You can also explain by using hand action so that the children can understand better what you are talking about. Raise your hand for high and drop your hand for low.

This can be an activity for the children. Let the children stand up. Tell them to raise their hands when you say, "high", and let them drop their hands when you say, "low." Involving the children in activities will make the lesson more fun and alive, thus creating positive learning.

Here's another way to enhance learning when you teach distances.

Using a flying airplane to show the meaning of high is also good. The children will know that the airplane is in the sky so they will visualize what high means.

As much as possible, use the things around when explaining lessons to young children so that they will connect better to the lesson and have a better understanding.

Lower and Higher

Use the books and the shelf to explain lower and higher. Say:, “Children, look at the books on the shelf.” Explain while pointing to the books. “This book is higher than this book.”

Let the children learn that you use the comparative words lower and higher when you are comparing two objects or things.

Lowest and highest

You can use the toy planes or toy birds to demonstrate the meaning of lowest and highest.

Here’s how to do it.

  1. Tie a string to the toy airplanes and toy birds. There must be three or more for each toy airplanes and toy birds.
  2. Hang the toys in groups. One group of toy airplanes and one group of toy birds.
  3. They must be high enough to appear like they are really flying.

Now, you can use a stick to point to the toys and let the children understand and learn the meaning of lowest and highest.

You should explain to the young kids that they use the words when they are comparing three or more objects.

Near, nearer, nearest

Near and Far

Demonstrate how near and far are used so that the children can catch the meaning of the words easily. Position some things far away from you and some things near you. Let them see that far things cannot be reached by the hand unless you go near the object. Let them also see that when the objects or things are near you, you can easily reach for them.

You can also choose some kids as example. Let them stand or sit near and far from each other and then explain their position to the other children so that they will see who is far and who is near.

Nearer and farther

Use objects or things inside the room to discuss the meaning of nearer and farther. Go near the window and tell the children that you are nearer the window and farther from the blackboard.

Nearest and Farthest

You can demonstrate the meaning of nearest and farthest by using the children as examples. Stand near a child and ask them, “Who sits nearest to me?”

The children will know who is sitting nearest to you because they already have an idea what nearest means. Ask them also who is farthest from you.

More examples are needed in this lesson. The more examples you give the better for the children to understand the lesson.

Activities for teaching distances to young kids.


You can introduce a game to the kids to enhance learning for distances. The best place to play games for distances is in a wide space such as the playground. Let the children form a circle around you.

Say, “Children when I say, “near”, walk forward and come near me. When I say, “far”, walk backwards away from me.

Pointing Objects

There are many objects inside the classroom. You can point to an object and ask the children if it is near or far. Aside from objects, you can also use the children to further enhance learning. Ask the kids who is near or far from each other. This will make them understand about near, nearer, nearest and far, farther, farthest.

Activity Sheets:

Directions to use for activity sheets when teaching distances.

  1. Color the high object.
  2. Color the low objects.
  3. Cross out the high airplane.
  4. Cross out the low airplane.
  5. Which one is high? Box it.
  6. Which one is low? Color it.
  7. Which monkey is jumping high? Color it.
  8. Which monkey is jumping low? Color it.
  9. Color the lowest airplane.
  10. Color the highest airplane.
  11. Box the nearest bird from the tree.
  12. Box the farthest bird from the tree.

There are many possible activities for teaching distances for young kids. Use as many as you can to enhance learning.


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