Measuring everything in sight!

Last week, our second grade math class was filled with fun measurement activities, more specifically, measuring length.  Here are some highlights.  A number of the activities were adapted from the Georgia Mathematics Standards of Excellence.

For the first activity, I cut up many colorful inch long strips.  The students had to use them to measure different objects of their choice.  Lining them up without gaps or overlaps was quite tricky, but this did not stop the students from picking the largest objects they could see: teacher’s desk, mirror, blackboard.  Measuring them was tedious work, but the students persevered!




For the second activity, the students used the strips to make rulers.  Now measuring the desk or the mirror was a much easier task.  Students came up with 2 ways of doing it: 1) using one ruler and moving it along while keeping track of where the end was and 2) using multiple rulers and lining them up.  However, measuring the whole room with 10-12 inch rulers was still very tedious.  The students suggested using measuring tape or longer rulers such as yardsticks.  We then discussed the need for different units of measurement.  Would you measure the distance from the school to your house in inches?  How about the length of a pencil in yards?

Perhaps my favorite activity involved the students estimating various lengths given the length of one unit.  They were given an inch long line segment and a centimeter long line segment, and they had to make estimates for lengths such as 3 or 7 inches and 5, 14, or 20 centimeters.  Most students measured the single unit with their fingers and tried to use that to estimate the multiple units.  At the end they got to use actual rulers to see how far off their estimates were.  It was interesting to hear how the opinions of how well they did varied.  Within the same minute I heard both “I was so close, only off by an inch!” and “I was a whole inch off!”  Finally, the students had to find objects around the room that they thought were approximately of the given lengths.




The students also measured lots of objects in both centimeters and inches.  Everyone noticed that you always get more centimeters than inches and was able to explain that this was because an inch is larger.   Some even noticed that the number of centimeters is always between 2 and 3 times more than the number of inches.

What fun measurement activities have you done or would like to do with your students or kids?



About aofradkin

I enjoy thinking about presenting mathematical concepts to young children in exciting and engaging ways.
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2 Responses to Measuring everything in sight!

  1. bovetsky says:

    Sasha, have you tried to offer them to introduce their own units? This can be a real fun. Also, you can show them “38 попугаев”. It gives them the idea of relativity of units. And I am sure that you had your history part to introduce ancient units that came from the parts of our bodies.


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