This activity introduces nonstandard measurement and provides practice with estimating and measuring lengths.
Main Curriculum Tie:
Mathematics Grade 1
Measure lengths indirectly and by iterating length units. 2.
Express the length of an object as a whole number of length units, by laying multiple copies of a shorter object (the length unit) end to end; understand that the length measurement of an object is the number of same-size length units that span it with no gaps or overlaps. Limit to contexts where the object being measured is spanned by a whole number of length units with no gaps or overlaps.
- How Big Is A Foot?, by Rolf Myller
- Construction paper
- The Apprentice’s
Problem narrative mime
- Measuring worms
- Costume pieces (e.g.,
crowns, various hats to
distinguish a Prime
- Guess and Measure worksheet for each
- How Big Is A Foot?, by Rolf Myller; ISBN 0-440-40495-9
- The Long and Short of It, by Cheryl Nathan and Lisa McCourt;
- The Fattest, Tallest, Biggest Snowman Ever, by Bettina Ling;
- Inch by Inch, by Leo Lionni; ISBN 0-590-47991
- Jim and the Beanstalk, by Raymond Briggs; ISBN 0-698-11577-5
- Inchworm And A Half, by Elinor J. Pinczes; ISBN 0-439-44710-0
Background For Teachers:
This activity is designed to introduce nonstandard measurement. It
also provides practice with estimating and measuring lengths using a
variety of nonstandard units. The book, How Big Is A Foot?, poses a
question to the students that provides them with a chance to problem
solve, using nonstandard units (their own foot patterns).
You will need to sort your students into cooperative groups of five or
six to prepare for this activity. Choose students that will work together
and help one another to stay on task. Also, choose one student for each
group that has larger feet and one student that has small feet, in
Since this is an activity that requires the students to work in
cooperative groups, you may want to prepare them beforehand. Teach
students how to work cooperatively prior to this activity by discussing
and showing what it should look like and sound like. Then, provide one
or two activities/tasks that give them the chance to practice before
beginning this activity.
Finally, this activity allows the students a chance to participate in a
narrative mime. Experience with narrative mime is not necessary in
order to participate. You will need to discuss the procedure for the
narrative mime, however. You also might want to gather props/minor
costume pieces for the students to wear.
Intended Learning Outcomes:
2. Develop social skills and ethical responsibility.
6. Communicate clearly in oral, artistic, written, and nonverbal form.
Invitation to Learn
Read How Big Is A Foot? to the page where the question is posed,“Why was the bed too small for the queen?”
Today, we started reading the story, How Big Is a Foot?, by Rolf
Myller. It is about a king who thinks of a lovely present to give his
wife, the queen. But, there’s a problem with the present. Together, we
will work to figure out what the problem is and predict what will
happen with the king and his gift to the queen. Finally, we will find
out what the characters actually did to solve the problem.
- Explain to the students that in order to solve the apprentice’s
problem, they are going to act out the story and try to find out
what went wrong.
- Put students in their cooperative groups and assign each child a
role out of the following parts: King, Queen, Prime Minister,
Chief Carpenter, Apprentice and, if needed, Jailer. As you assign
roles, be aware that the King and Queen have the most lines. You
may want to assign those parts to students who are uninhibited
and pay attention well.
- Explain the procedure for a narrative mime. The storyteller/
narrator (teacher or student with fluent reading skills) reads the
story. The storyteller will cue each actor for his lines by reading
them first. For example, the storyteller will read, “‘Good
question,’ said the Prime Minister.” Then, each child playing the
part of Prime Minister will echo, “Good question.”
- Read through The Apprentice’s
students to participate, verbally and nonverbally, on cue as
needed. They can quietly act out some of the action. You will
probably want to have each group spread out to different corners
of the room.
- When you come to the end of the script, pass out construction
paper, pencils and scissors to each group. Tell them to trace the “King’s” foot and the “Apprentice’s” foot in each group. Then,
invite them to trace and cut eight more of each foot so that there
are nine “King” feet and nine “Apprentice” feet. Students playing
the parts of the Prime Minister, Chief Carpenter and Queen can
help in tracing and cutting.
- Have each group lay out their “King” feet to create a 3 by 6
diagram on the floor. Do the same with the “Apprentice” feet.
- Ask the question, “Why was the bed too small for the queen?”
- As students give their answers, ask them for a prediction of how
the characters in the book might solve the problem.
- Finish reading the rest of the book. Refer back to the class
prediction. Were we right? Did it work?
- Pass out construction paper. Invite each child to trace copies of
their own foot. Then, have them find a partner to measure using
their own foot to see how many feet long and wide their bed
- Students take their own foot pattern home and measure their bed
to see if it is the same, bigger or smaller than their body
measurement in their own nonstandard feet units (see Family
- As a center or whole class activity, invite students to estimate the
lengths of objects in the classroom, based on their foot
measurement. Provide students with the Guess and Measure worksheet to record their estimates and actual lengths.
When the page is complete, staple the foot measurement to it.
- Provide a new nonstandard unit to measure by (e.g., measuring
worms). Invite students to complete a new Guess and Measure worksheet with this alternative unit.
- Have a discussion with the students comparing and contrasting
the worm and foot units of measurement. Ask the students to give
examples of which objects might be best measured by a foot (e.g.,
a table, the chalkboard tray, etc.) and which objects they would
choose to measure with a worm (e.g., a crayon, scissors, a piece
of paper, etc.).
- Plan your plant unit to integrate with this measurement lesson.
- Examine the differing sizes of seeds. Use seeds as a
Example: How many pumpkin seeds long is your pencil?
- Plant seeds (e.g., lima beans). As the plant begins to sprout,
measure its growth with a nonstandard measure (e.g., seeds or
- Measure the leaves of different types of plants with
- Have each student create a discovery journal
- Students can record observations of grown plants in the
- Students can record the growth progress of their own
- Write about nonstandard measurement units, estimations, and
experiences for interactive writing.
- Encourage students to write their own stories about measuring
things with various nonstandard units.
- Accommodate for emergent learners by allowing them to work as
pairs on the Guess and Measure worksheet. You may even want
to reduce the number of objects you require them to measure.
- Differentiate for advanced learners by introducing them to
standard measurement. Encourage them to complete the Guess and Measure worksheet using inches/centimeters.
- Write your own narrative mime script for the second half of the
book and allow students to perform it in cooperative groups for
- Make a T-chart and lay it on the floor. At the top, put a
nonstandard foot unit on one side and a worm unit on the other.
Provide the students with objects and have them sort the objects
by which unit of measure would be most appropriate to measure
- Have students measure their own beds with the nonstandard foot
measurement they created in class.
- Invite family members to trace their feet. Let the family decide
which member’s foot would need to serve as the “King” foot so
that everyone has a bed that is big enough.
- Send bean plants home and require the students to keep a
measurement log for a week, tracking the continued growth (or
nor lack of growth) of the plant. When logs are returned to
school, discuss what factors promoted or hindered the growth of
- Use the Guess and Measure worksheet as an assessment to see if
the students are able to estimate with and use the worms or their
own feet as units of measure.
- Observe students as they measure with their feet and worms, etc.
- Ask the students to discuss in writing the length of a given object
in foot units or worm units. Ask them to tell how they know
whether to use the foot or the worms to measure something.
Created Date :
Sep 16 2004 12:09 PM