Sunday, April 21, 2013

Fun With Measurement

Our current math unit is measurement.  I know that most of my blog posts are about how I am integrating technology into my classroom, however, this is not one of those posts....There are times when you need to use manipulatives and tools that are not on the iPads.  Yes, there are apps for measuring on the iPads, but my students need to know how to properly compare lengths accurately and use a baseline when comparing the lengths of objects.  You can't learn that from using a computer or iPad, students need time to explore and use materials they choose to measure different objects.  I have a grade 1/2 class, the grade 1's expectations are to measure in non standard measurements and the grade 2 expectations are to measure to the nearest centimeter.  Both grades need to be able to estimate, compare and record lengths.  Therefor, the activities that I am going to share with you can be done in either grade.  My younger students are using different objects to measure and my older students are measuring and recording linear measurements using both non-standard and standard units.

How Big Is A Foot?

This was an introductory lesson to our unit.  I teach in a open concept school.  This means there are no walls or doors dividing my classroom to the classroom next door.  We put all 3 classes together for this lesson.  So when you see the pictures.....I don't really have 60 students in my classroom, there are 3 teachers also.
I began the lesson by reading the story, "How Big Is A Foot."  The King wants to give the Queen something special for her birthday. The Queen has everything, everything except a bed. The trouble is that no one in the Kingdom knows the answer to a very important question: How Big is a Bed? Because beds at the time had not yet been invented. The Queen's birthday is only a few days away. How can they figure out what size the bed should be?
We then chose 2 people from each class to trace their foot onto a piece of paper.  We ended up choosing the person in our class with the largest foot (the teacher) and the student in the class that had the smallest foot.  In the story the bed had to be 6 feet by 3 feet.  We made 18 copies of each foot and had the students cut the feet out.  We then made the beds and discussed why the beds were all different sizes and we answered why we thought the ruler was invented.

To extend this activity I made a math station for my students to do independently.

If you are interested in using this station you can download the instruction sheet here and the chart here.

Measurement Garden

 In art we made spring gardens.  Students were given a sheet of paper with different sizes of rectangles on it.  They were instructed to draw flowers in the boxes.  Then, students cut their flowers out, glued them on construction paper and either measured their flowers with cubes or a ruler and recorded their findings. 

Ordering Lengths With Toy Cars And A Ramp

The last measurement activity we did this past week started with this problem prompt:  How can you find out which of these three toys travels the farthest past the ramp?

Students were given 3 toy cars, a clipboard to turn over and use as a ramp, popsicle sticks for measuring the distance and a recording sheet.  Students chose partners and got to work.  Here are a few pictures of the activity:

If you would like the recording sheet to this activity you can get it here.

I hope you have as much fun as we did completing these measurement activities.


  1. Thank you for sharing these measurement activities! When I taught Grades 1 and 2, this was one of my favourite math units because the students had so much fun with these hands-on activities. I particularly liked how you integrated Language and Math with your, HOW BIG IS A FOOT? activity.

    As a Grade 6 teacher now and someone that has spent a lot of time focusing on communication in math, I'm curious to know how you got the students to communicate their thinking. Did you require this for each of the activities? I'm wondering how the iPads could be used for this part of the activities as well. I would love to know your thoughts on this!


  2. Thanks for the comment Aviva! My math time is divided up into a mini lesson and activity then math stations. While my students are working independently at their math stations I have small groups or one to one conferencing where we work on communicating their thinking, helping those that need further investigation on a math concept or pushing their math thinking. We also use the recording apps like explain everything to communicate their thinking. They may take a photo of what they are working on or a video and post it to their blog. Another way my students communicate their thinking is to their peers, during math stations I am always reiterating to use math talk while at their stations. Students also love to use the apple t.v. to show their peers what they are working on to communicate how they got the answer they did.