Grades K - 3
This lesson will help students use different units of measure
and learn about the relationship between sizes of measuring units and the
results of measuring. They will compare different units of measure as they
use them, thus learning their relative sizes through use.
It Figures #2: Deciding How Close to Measure.
Students will be able to:
- compare common objects in terms of length
- use non-standard units and standard units of measurement
- measure different objects
- define measurement procedure as a critical part of data collection
For each group of five students:
- Chart paper
- laminated tagboard cards (see Post Viewing Activities for what to
write on the cards. You will need to prepare a set of cards for each student
- marker (washable)
- set of laminated cards
- five rulers
- paper clips
- old shoes
- pipe cleaners
- tape measurer
For each student:
- stuffed animal(brought from home)
- construction paper
Teacher: "Today we are going to play a game called Giant
Teacher: "I want you to estimate, and then count, distance in the room
in giant steps." Select a student to be the giant. The giant is to
stand at the front of the classroom, take two giant steps, and freeze.
Teacher: Ask the other students to estimate the whole length of the classroom
in those giant steps.
Teacher: "Make a picture in your head and try to imagine how many giant
steps it would take to get to the far wall. "
Write the estimates on the board. Next, as the giant paces the whole length
of the room, have the students count out loud and record the answer.
Teacher: "If you each measure the length of the room in your own giant
steps, will all your answers be the same? What do you think?"
Allow students to talk about whether they think there will be any variation
in their results. Primary students have a wide range of theories about how
and why measurement result might vary.
Next select student pairs that will pace the length of the classroom in
giant steps. While one partner paces, the other counts. Students then switch
Teacher: Ask students to record their results on the board.
Teacher: "Look at the number on the board. Did everyone get the same
results? Does this surprise you?"
Teacher: "Now you will measure the same distance, but you'll use baby
steps. Do you think you'll get different results?" Now have a student
demonstrate baby steps.
Teacher: "Imagine, now, how many baby steps like that will it take
to get to the other wall. Imagine the baby steps in a straight path across
the room. How many will it take?"
Now pair up students to pace and count. Then have students enter the data
on a line plot on the board.
Baby steps produce much larger numbers than giant steps.
Teacher: "Why should the littlest steps give us the biggest number?"
Allow for student answers.
Teacher: "Now we have measured the length of our classroom in giant
steps and baby steps. We are now going to study other units to measure with."
Teacher: "Can you think of something we can use to measure with in
the classroom?" (record responses on board)
Teacher: "Now we are going to learn about measurement by
actually watching a group of boys and girls building a tree house. Each
time the boys and girls use a type of unit of measurement, I want you to
show me the inch on your finger. (The inch on your finger is in the middle
of your pointer finger.)
START at the beginning after the opening credits.
PAUSE when the Chinese boy says: "Well, let's go."
Teacher: "Did the boys and girls plan what size boards they needed?"
(No) "Did they plan how many boards they needed?" (No)
PAUSE when the boy says: "What do you think Zig, will this part
work for part of the floor?"
Teacher: "What type of measurement is Zig using to determine if the
board will fit for the floor?" (eyes)
PAUSE when the blonde boy says: "Don't be so picky Nancy."
Teacher: "Do you think Nancy was right, that they should have used
a tape measure?" (yes, to make sure it fit)
PAUSE when Zig tells Lisa he can measure with that pencil.
Teacher: "How can you measure with a pencil?" (you can measure
the length, as one unit)
PAUSE when the spider says, "I know."
Teacher: "Do you use the same unit of measure when you measure big
and small things?" (no, there are different types of measuring units.)
Stop when Zig says, "Lets' think about putting on a second story on
our tree house."
Teacher: "We just saw several examples of how we can use
different types of units to measure. What were some of the units the boys
and girls used to measure their tree house?" (a pencil, tape measurer,
a centimeter ruler, and a millimeter ruler)
Teacher: "Today we are going to work in groups and measure the items
in our measurement boxes which have been set on your table."
Teacher: Divide the students into groups of five. In each box have an assortment
of ribbons lengths of yarn, old ties, straws, paper clips, pencils, crayons,
old shoes, belts, comb, pipe cleaners, rulers and tape measurer. Write questions
on tagboard cards that have been laminated. Have students record response
on card with a washable marker.
EXAMPLE of questions you might put in each box.
Teacher: Circulate among group, checking answers.
- Which is longer, the blue ribbon or the red ribbon?
- What color are the two crayons that have the same length?
- How many paper clips long is the yellow pencil?
- Name three things in the box that are longer than the eraser?
- How many inches long is the shoe?
- Which one is longer the shoe or the straw?
- How many paper clips does it take to measure the comb?
- How many crayons long is the tie?
- How may paper clips is the shoe?
- Which is shorter the belt or the blue ribbon? etc., other questions
can be used.
Teacher: Wrap up activity, prepare for tomorrow by writing letters to parents
asking if they may bring a stuffed animal to school. The students should
explain in the letter that his/her stuffed animal will have to spend the
night at school.
Day 2 Background: Today we are going to spend some time investigating
our stuffed animals. Each child needs a stuffed animal to measure. If your
students can't bring their own stuffed animals to school, you can set up
a center with a box of stuffed animals. This activity could be done as a
Teacher: Begin the day by reading, the story Inch by Inch by Leo
Lionni. The story is about how a quick-thinking inchworm saves his life
by offering to measure the birds who want to eat him. Inch by inch, he measures
the robin's tail, the flamingo's neck, the toucan's beak, the heron's legs,
the pheasant's tail, and the hummingbird's body. But, when he agrees to
measure the nightingale's song, he takes the opportunity to inch away to
freedom. The birds in Inch by Inch all had something they wanted
measured. They had an inchworm do the measuring for them using his body
length as one unit of measurement (an inchworm is the caterpillar larva
of a geometric moth). Many things can be used as units of measurement from
the time we are born and as we grow. We measure things around us all our
Teacher: Start lesson by reading the story, Inch by Inch.
Teacher: "The birds in Inch by Inch wanted to be measured. The
inchworm measured them in inches."
Teacher: "Can you name the animals that inchworm measured?" (list
Teacher: Now lets color and cut out our own inchworm to measure our stuffed
animals. (see page )
Teacher: After students have completed page , have the students introduce
their stuffed animal to the class and estimate how long he/she is in length
in inchworm parts.
Teacher: "Do you see different ways we can sort our animals?"
For example by color, by types of animals, whether or not the animal has
clothes, or length of the animal?"
Teacher: Have your students draw pictures of their stuffed animals and write
down the measurements. Listing leg measurement, arms, head or special features
that the animal possess. See page , worksheet 2.
Teacher: "Remember when you measure, you must start at one end of the
thing being measured and measure to the other end." *stress that measuring
is continuous- there are now spaces between the units.
Day 3: Ask the students to compare their stuffed animal to the one
you brought in. Have the students measure your animal, and then graph if
their animal measures bigger, smaller or about the same size as the teacher's
stuffed animal. Using a venn diagram would work great for this activity.
Teacher: "How many were bigger than my stuffed animal? How many were
smaller? How many animals were the same in measurement?"
Teacher: "Now let's write a story about your stuffed animal and what
he/she learned and experienced in school.
Day 4: Have students graph their stuffed animal measurement on a
Teacher: "Did our animals all measure the same?"
Teacher: "Now let's use the information and have fun writing word problems."
Have your students write math stories about the stuffed animals. For example,
"There are two pink bunnies, one blue bunny and five brown bunnies
in our classroom. How many bunnies are visiting our room?" Share problems
Students will visit a hardware store like Scotty's or Home Depot.
Have manager explain how important measurement is to his customers when
they are planning some type of project. Have students prepare questions
before your visit. Invite a contractor in to explain how important measurement
is when planning to build a building.
Let's Measure Center!
Place a math center in the room, which may be filled with objects students
can measure. Some suggestions for objects include pencils, books, crayons,
straws etc. Provide workmats divided in half with the word Longer
at the top of one side and the word Shorter at the top of the other
side. Have students take two objects out of the box compare their lengths
and place the objects on the proper side of the workmat. A partner could
How Tall and Wide are You?
Have students work in pairs. One partner uses yarn or string to measure
the other's arm span from fingertip to fingertip. Cut the yarn to this measured
length. Using this same piece of yarn, the partner then measures the other's
height from the top of the head to the floor. They will be surprised to see
that the result is the same! To check the validity of this concept have
partners' switch roles and repeat the procedure. Now have the partner measure
the other's foot using a strip of construction paper and then switch to
measure the other's foot. Then, hold the paper between the elbow and wrist!
The length of the forearm and the foot will be the same!
Have students conduct some research and collect more data about foot size.
Is there another group whose feet they might measure? They may be interested
in some tall peoples' foot sizes. Robert Pershing Wadlow, the world's tallest
man at 8 feet 11.1 inches, wore size 37AA shoes. His feet were 18-1/2 inches
long. Reng Jinlian, the world's tallest woman, had 14 inch long feet. These
facts come from the Guiness Book of World Records, New York; Bantam Books,
Longer or Shorter?
Take two hula hoops and have them overlap. Place all of the materials to
be measured in the center. Students compare the objects with the length
of the ruler. Shorter objects are placed on the left of the Venn diagram.
Longer objects go on the right, and objects that are the same length go
in the center. Encourage students to record their finding by drawing a picture
of their Venn diagram on a large sheet of drawing paper and recording the
length of each object.
Students may use the computer Logo. Using the Logo language is a logical
way to help reinforce measurement. Giving and responding to directions about
turns and distances is similar to moving the Logo turtle around the screen.
You can organize the task so that one student points to a place on the screen
and the other moves or programs the turtles to get to the spot. You can
save the pictures or the programs and have students share and compare their
What Size Bed?
The first person will trace around her partner's foot. Cut out the pattern.
Next, use the foot pattern to measure the right-sized bed for your partner.
With your partner lying on the floor, use their foot pattern to determine
how big a bed made for them would be. Then the second person repeats step
1 and 2. Then complete your worksheet.
Name What Size Bed?
Length Length Width Width
Two of the Same Scavenger Hunt.
Have students help you find something in the room that is about the same
length as their desk. Brainstorm a list of possibilities then have students
cut a piece of string the length of their desk and compare it with the objects
listed. Then have students to find two objects similar in size and measure
them with string. Then post the names of the objects on index cards and
attach the measurement on the strings. Allow students to use nonstandard
measures or standard metric measurement.
How Big is a foot? Give each group of students at least 10 feet cut outs
all of the same size. Then have each group measure, the teacher's desk,
the reading table, desk, or any other specified objects by using the feet
cutouts as the unit of measure. Ask students why they think the measurements
were different. Read the story, How Big Is a Foot? by Rolf Mylier,
and ask students to write a letter to the apprentice telling him how to
build a bed to fit the queen.
How Big Is a Foot? Macmillan, 1922.
Wylie, Joanne and David
A Big Fish Story, Children's Press, 1983.
The Snake: A very Long Story, Houghton Mifflin, 1978.
Inch by Inch, Astor-Honor, 1960.
Farmer Mack Measures His Pig, HarperCollins, 1986.
Jim and the Beanstalk, Putnam, 1970.
Depaola, Tomie Now
One Foot, Now the Other, Putnam, 1980.
Put your best foot forward with this fun art project. Make foot prints to
measure your many activities to help make measurement fun. Have your students
scuff their sneakers on the floor before stepping on pieces of white paper.
(sneakers with patterns on the soles are most effective) Each student outlines
the edge and sole design with fine-tipped markers before shaking off the
dust from the paper. After coloring the designs, have students cut out scraps
of construction paper to glue onto their pictures.
Measure off meter lengths on a sidewalk or in the parking lot. Draw a big
ladder. Make the steps a meter length apart. Write the meter progression
in each box. Divide your class into two teams. Each player tosses a beanbag.
Alternate turns. The team scoring the highest total wins.
Master Teacher: Kathy Raiford
Click here to view the worksheet
associated with this lesson.
NOTE TO TEACHER
Before using rulers or an inch worm (inch stick), children need much practice
with the concept of measurement. Comparing the lengths of common objects
using the term longer and shorter is a good beginning point. After several
sessions of hands-on comparing, children can then use pieces of string,
unifix cubes, paper clips, tooth picks, popsicle sticks, etc., to find the
length of an object.
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