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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.
ITV Series
It Figures #2: Deciding How Close to Measure.
Learning Objectives
Students will be able to:
Teacher preparation:
For each group of five students:

For each student:

Pre-Viewing Activities
Teacher: "Today we are going to play a game called Giant Steps."

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 roles.

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)
Focus Viewing
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.)

Viewing Activities
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."

Post-Viewing Activities
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.

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 center.

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 lives.

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 responses)

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 large chart.

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 among groups.
Action Plan
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 check.

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, 1988.

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 solutions.

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?

My 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.

Mylier, Rolf
How Big Is a Foot? Macmillan, 1922.

Wylie, Joanne and David
A Big Fish Story, Children's Press, 1983.

Waber, Bernard
The Snake: A very Long Story, Houghton Mifflin, 1978.

Lionni, Leo
Inch by Inch, Astor-Honor, 1960.

Johnston, Tony
Farmer Mack Measures His Pig, HarperCollins, 1986.

Briggs, Raymond
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.


Background Information:

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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