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Linear Measurement

Compiled By: Mrs. G

This is a collection of activities to use when teaching the concept of measurement.

Measurement search
Posted by: Kathy

I do a search through the room where they work in teams and try to measure different objects. I have three parts: First part--Particular things to measure, second part--finding items of a certain length, third part--listing on back as many items as they can find that equal a foot. That last one is good because then noone is "done" and it gives the slower ones a chance to finish at least the first two parts. (The third section is a challenge.) As mentioned above, by observing the process you can find out who "gets" it. It's NOT a quiet activity, but I've noticed if you stop while interest is still high--about 15-20 minutes--students are rarely off task during this activity.

Another favorite with us: "The Measurement Is Right" It's played just like the game show where you call down 3-5 players at a time. (I ham this up by drawing names and booming out, "Andrea, come on down!!) Those kids try to estimate the length of an object around the classroom and write their estimates on the board. We then actually measure it and see who is closest. The winners of each round face off during the final round, and the winning child is declared "Measurement King/Queen for the Day." They love this and get pretty good about estimating lengths!

Posted by: Donna

I teach first and have been observed. I did a measurement chart. First I read "How big is a foot?", but I don't recommend that particular one since kids don't get that foot does not mean something at the end of your leg with toes!

The class was in small groups so they could help each other.

Each child had a chart of three things that the whole class measured, plus two other things they could choose. I used a videocassette case, my shoe, and a 12" ruler. The kids then could measure 2 other things.

They had to measure everything with unifix cubes (put together), paperclips, and 1" tiles from my math manipulatives.

First explain, then let them go to it! It helped that my class had been introduced to some measurement before.

My principal loved the small groups, the movement, the exploration (multiple intelligences). My kids loved measureing my shoe, and they found big books to measure, chair legs, all sorts of things!

non-standard measurement
Posted by: Marcie

I am teaching a 1/2 split, and I did measurement last quarter with my 2nd graders. The first graders will be doing it this quarter, and I have planned an activity for this Monday dealing with nonstandard measurement. I got it from a book my CT lent me called "Cereal Math"--a neat find! Anyway, the kids get a piece of cardboard that is 10-12" long, and then they glue their choice of cereal (give them 3-4 choices, like Cheerios, Alpha-Bits, etc.) onto the ruler, side by side. They then use the ruler to measure things around the room. The book comes with a chart for them to fill out, where they first estimate and then measure. A fun way to introduce nonstandard measurement!

Measurement Mania!
Posted by: Heidi

Our school did a multi-age math enrichment day where we hit several measurement outcomes for all ages. Kids rotated through stations throughout the school. But here are a few things I do just with my class:
Cut a 2 strips of coloured paper to the length of a decimeter (assuming you teach metric in Canada). Post one somewhere obvious in the class when kids aren't looking. Show students the other one as a sample and send them on a decimeter hunt. When they find it, they cannot tell anyone, but come up and initial the front board or a sheet of chart paper. I do this a couple of times a week and they LOVE the activity. I hide it in tougher places each time, but all easily seen from their seats so kids can spend the day gawking around for it when they have a minute free. The object of this is to familiarize them with the size of a decimeter.

I also do a playground scavenger hunt. I prepare a photocopied sheet and they work with a partner. We have a track and field mesuring tape for long distances, a trundle wheel for really long distances, and they also have rulers and meter sticks. I aks them to measure the width of a stair on the slide, the height of the step they come up to get inside, the length of my car (named Bing!), then I ask how many times Bing will fit in the field (they measure the field and work hard to figure out the area as best they can), I even ask them to find the longest blade of grass they can and to measure it. They like being able to run here and there searching for the answers.

Posted by: MJ

I divide into groups-usually no more than 3 in a group if possible. Then each group is given about five notecards with specific things to measure inside the room. On the card, they are to first estimate how long they think it will be, then record the actual length beside it. Sometimes with large groups it becomes a challenge to find enough different things to measure so you have to be creative.

We have also had Measurement Olympics. I use LOTS of parent volunteers for this. I set up stations outside with various activities. For example, we did Olympic Golf--here we had some plastic golf clubs and cotton balls. They had to hit the cotton ball as far as possible and then measure it. (I had them estimate on each event what their total would be BEFORE we did the event) Another one was Olympic Flying--they made paper airplanes, Olympic Frisbee--they threw paper plates, Olympic Smiles--measured the width of their biggest smile with yarn then rulers--Olympic High Jump--put a wet sponge in hand and jumped up beside our building and touched the sponge to it--then measured, Olympic Death Grip--had a container of wet sponges-each took a sponge out and over a measuring cup squeezed out as much water as possible--Olympic Jump Rope--counted in one minute how many jumps they could do. You can be creative and come up with better names and more activities. Parents were quick to help and it has always been successful.

Measurement ideas
Posted by: Lori

Some ideas for motivating measurement ideas:
- If you are teaching yards, you could have the students take yard sticks out to a football field to measure the field. This activity would be motivating to the students and it would be an easy way for the students to remember and understand yards.
- Teach them how to measure edge to edge. You could have the students measure something using string. Then, you could have them measure the string, making sure that they hold the string straight along the edge of the ruler.

Hope this helps.

Posted by: Heather

For teaching the first and second graders you could try introducing the concept with the story inch by inch By Leo Lionni. Then using inchworm shaped measuring tools ( cuisinaire makes them) to have students measure classroom objects. There is also a book called How big is a Foot? ( don't know the author.) This book introduces the need for a standard of measurement.
Good luck!

Measurement and Graphing
Posted by: Heather

I am planning a plant unit for my second graders. One activity we are going to do is to make Eggshell people.

Give all the kids an empty egg shell with the top third removed. Have them decorate the eggs to look like a person (test the markers first). Then have them plant grass seed.

As the grass grows, have students measure the grass and record it in a table of some sort. They can make a line graph showing the progression.

Then after a certain period of time, make a graph showing the height of the grass for all the eggshell people. They can write about what they notice from the graph (There are five eggshells with hair that is 4-5 inches tall.)

I am also going to have my class write stories about the people.

Hope this helps!

measurement/human body
Posted by: Gayle

I tied in math activities with a human body unit (4th grade) using lessons from a book called: Jaw Breakers and Heart Thumpers - 1995 Aims Educational Foundation. It had fun lessons like: trying to figure out the approximate height of a giant given only an example of a giant hand print ( that gets mysteriously left on the classroom wall!). Kids end up figuring out that their hand span fits about 10x into their height span - so the giant's height must be 10x the length of the hand.
There are lots of fun lessons in that book that tied math and science together.

Posted by: Cathy

Have the students work in pairs or groups to measure the classroom but first do it with out a ruler. They have to estimate their height of themselves, their foot, finger etc. Give them and activity that they need decorate for a party but they can only estimate. THey need to measure the amount needed for fabric, crepe paper, string, etc. They have to fairly accurate. Give them a worksheet with fill in the blanks for both the guess and the real amount. See who came close. Measuring can be lots of fun. GOod luck

Posted by: Kristie

I love doing the activity..."How long is your name". The kids write their name in cursive on a piece of construction paper. Then they use yarn to trace over the letters. When they have enough yarn to cover their name they have a friend help them stretch it out and measure it. Then they glue the yarn on the paper and put my name is ___ long. It is cool!

Posted by: Paul

We created a blueprint of the school. The class was divided into groups and each was given a hallway to meaure in yards. As a class, we decided on a scale and all drew our blueprints to that scale. We added descriptions of bulletin boards to add in writing and went into details with doors, tables, etc. - anything in the hallway.

how about...
Posted by: Jo

How about each child making a holiday banner. You would use their measurement skills. For example the paper must measure 200cm by 40cm. It must include their name written 15cm by 30cm, a holiday scene 40cm by 30cm, etc. It could be vertical or horizontal. You could require whatever designs you want. It would be fun and use those measurement skills that ALWAYS need practice and review. You could use standard measurements too instead of metric, obviously.

Memorizing Inches, Feet, Yards
Posted by: Bob

In my first measurement lessons, I buy cheap yardsticks (the rougher the wood, the better they work). The students color each foot a different color. Wal-Mart brand has worked well, but my best yardsticks were found at a surplus hardware store. I use straight pins to display them on the bulletin board before sending home; in our area, sticks cannot be sent home on busses, but this unit falls near a parent/student night, and bussed students take them home, then.
Also, would this rhyme help anyone?
12 inches in a foot
3 feet in a yard
A yard is 36 inches
Now that's not hard
We'll go on a measuring spree
(Point) Be my partner
You can measure with me

yummy idea
Posted by: Amy

To introduce the measurement unit, I give my students 1 square 5x5 brown construction paper, several colored papers with a circle on each paper. (About 8 circles on an 8 1/2x 11 sheet of paper.) I tell my students I want them to make thier favorite ice cream cone. They cut the brown paper for the cone and no more than 3 circles for the scoops of ice cream. Glue or tape the pieces together. Then I use my overhead and measure a couple, then they can see exactly how to measure, so they can do their own.
You can measure your yummy ice cream cones in centemeters or in inches. This activity is like a mini-lesson on how to use a ruler.

Posted by: Lona

To begin our measurment unit each group is given a straw (each is of different length) to measure their desks. Then I have each reporter report the length and width of their desk. By the time I am done the results are very different and they may have realized that the straws were of different lengths. This gets us to the conversation of needing a standard unit of measurement. Then we create meter tapes and measure things around the room, as well as ourselves. This is just a start, but it is inexpensive, I hope it helps!

Master Ruler
Posted by: Lou

I have a tool in my classroom called the Master Ruler. It is actually 4 rulers hooked together with a binder strip. One is marked off in inches, one in 1/2 inches, one in 1/4 inches, and one in 1/8 inches. They are hard to describe, but they are color-coded, they overlap each other, and they make measuring so much easier! The Master Ruler was invented by a teacher who struggled with teaching her students measurement. There's also one for the overhead projector. I've had mine for about 4 or 5 years and my students love them.

Posted by: Grant

I just finished my measurement unit with my grade ones- I made a booklet with the different units- we did mm,cm and m. Then once we knew those we went outside and explored the different units- my guys had a little trouble with mm because they are so small- also measuring their bodies was a hit!
Good Luck

No title
Posted by: clanna

Measuring Penny is a great book to read that teaches many equivalencies. Then, we bring in stuffed animals to measure their arms, legs,head, etc.

Students eat a Twizzler in 12 bites to remember 12 inches equals one foot.

Take a length of yarn. Let students hold both ends. Fold it in half like you're folding a sheet. Tie another color of yarn like a flag where the fold is. Fold again. Tie flags. When it is opened up, the flag's mark 1/4, 1/2, and 3/4.

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Don't bug out!
Posted by: intheloonybin

I bought a couple of bags of bugs and creatures from a dollar store and made centers. I asked questions about the wingspan of a dragon fly, the length of a spider's left front leg, etc. and ask for measurements in cm, mm, and inches. Keep those little hands busy and minds interested. I also included the answers so it could be self checking.

Could use the same idea with different objects such as hot wheels, fast food kid's meals prizes. If students do good, reward them with a few minutes of play time with the toys. Just an idea. Good luck!

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Measurement in Chocolate
Posted by: Marks

When attempting to teach measurement using nonstandard units, try giving each student a hershey bar and having them use it as a ruler. Hershey bars work because they are already divided into parts of a whole (if they need to know 1/4 of an inch, etc). Then have them measure things around the classroom, such as the perimiter of their desk using the chocolate bar as a ruler. We just started measurement in my classroom. It is my first year teaching 5th grade. I hope to use this method during this unit. It sounded fun and yummy. If you use this, let me know how it works :)

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How Big Is a Foot?
Posted by: 4th grade teacher

In the past I've used a book "How Big Is a Foot?" by Rolf Myller. It talks about a king ordering a bed and the funny mix-ups because everyone is measuring things with their feet. Basically, it discusses the need for a measurement system. After, we all measure different distances with our feet and discuss the answers we come up with. I guide the students toward realizing the need for standard units. Then we do an activity measuring things around the room.