Activities help students learn the sequence
of metric prefixes and to make conversions within the metric system.
Main Curriculum Tie:
Mathematics - 6th Grade
Standard 4 Objective 2
Identify and describe measurable attributes of objects and units of measurement, and solve problems involving measurement.
Invitation to Learn
- Post-It® notes
- Poster Paper
Millions to Measure, by David M. Schwartz; ISBN 0-688-12916-1
Background For Teachers:
Most countries use the metric system. With the increasingly global
marketplace, citizens of the United States are exposed to more usage of
this system. It is important for students in the educational system to
have a knowledge of the metric system—its components, organization,
and common benchmarks—to be able to use the system in the real
The metric system is based on powers of ten. This makes
calculations and conversions simple. The prefixes are used across the
measurement types to denote the magnitude, or power of ten of the
|Power of Ten
|Power of Ten
|| 1 L
|| 0.1 L
|Power of Ten
Intended Learning Outcomes:
1. Develop a positive learning attitude toward mathematics.
3. Reason logically, using inductive and deductive strategies and justify
4. Communicate mathematical ideas and arguments coherently to peers,
teachers, and others using the precise language and notation of mathematics.
Invitation to Learn
There are so many things that we measure every day using the
metric system. Pre-assess what your students know about this
measurement system by having them brainstorm terms related to
metric measurement. Have students work in cooperative groups of
two to four students. Students should write each item on a separate
Post-It® note. Allow three to five minutes for this activity.
Ask students to come up with a way to group or classify the
items on their Post-It® notes. Sort the Post-It® notes into columns
of like items and attach them to a sheet of poster paper for each group
to display. Write a heading for each column created. Some possible
headings students might use include length, capacity, volume, mass,
weight, or temperature. Take time to have groups share their methods
of classification. It is possible that there may be some items in
columns that are not mathematically accurate. Be sure to clear up
any misconceptions as needed. Leave the classification posters
created by the groups hanging up in the room for future reference.
(NOTE: The activities outlined in Instructional Procedures are
intended to be taught sequentially. They will take several lessons/
days to complete with students.)
- Read the book Millions to Measure to the class. Draw
comparisons from the story to the classification posters
students made in the Invitation to Learn.
- Tell students King Henry’s Story. This story will introduce
the acronym being used to help students learn the sequence
of metric prefixes and to make conversions within the
metric system. Although many acronyms are possible, these
activities will be using King Henry Does Usually Drink
- Tape the Prefix Cards on the board in a “staircase” pattern
to match the foldable students will be making later in this
lesson. The cards should be placed in the following order:
kilo, hector, deka, UNIT, deci, centi, and milli.
- Select four students to play the roles of King Henry, the Royal
Jester, the Royal Magician, and the Royal Carpenter. The other
members of the class will be the Royal Subjects. King Henry
will wear a crown and hold the canister with King Henry’s
Commands. The Royal Jester will wear a hat and hold the
Digit Cards. The Royal Magician will wear a hat and hold the
decimal point wand. The Royal Carpenter will wear a tool belt
containing the Royal Carpenter’s Tools.
- King Henry will select a card from King Henry’s Commands and
read it to the class. An example might read: I command that a
royal coach 15 meters in length be built to carry me to the ball.
The Royal Jester then places Digit Cards to represent 15 under
the UNIT card on the board. The Royal Magician steps in to
hold the decimal point wand after the number 15. The Royal
Carpenter then reaches into the tool belt without looking and
pulls out a Royal Carpenter’s Tools card to see what measurement
is available. If the Royal Carpenter pulls out “I, the Royal
Carpenter, have centi______ units available for measurement
today,” then the 15 meters must be converted to centimeters.
The King may then call on a Royal Subject to help decide which
direction and how many places the decimal point should move
to convert the meters to centimeters. The Royal Magician must
move the decimal point to the correct place indicated by the
Royal Subject. The other members of the Royal Court may
help decide if the answer is correct. Rotate the roles to other
members of the class to get everyone involved.
- Have students make the Metric Measurement foldable to use in
converting within the metric system. This is a smaller version
of the steps from the role playing that students can put in their
journals. First, have them cut out the seven steps and fold each
one in half on the double line. Students will attach them to the
Metric Measurement paper using glue sticks as you explain each
one as described in the procedural steps below:
a. Start with the center step labeled “USUALLY.” Have
students open the paper step and record inside that the
word USUALLY stands for “Unit.” Record that the basic
units of measurement in the metric system are meter, liter,
and gram and they have a value of 1 or 10^0.
b. Have students open the step labeled “drink.” This step is to
be labeled “deci,” and it has a value of 0.1 or 10^-1.
c. Have students open the step labeled “chocolate.” This step
is to be labeled “centi,” and it has a value of 0.01 or 10^-2.
d. Have students open the step labeled “milk.” This step is to
be labeled “milli,” and it has a value of 0.001 or 10^-3.
e. Have students open the step labeled “does.” This step is to
be labeled “deka,” and it has a value of 10 or 10^1.
f. Have students open the step labeled “Henry.” This step is to
be labeled “hector,” and it has a value of 100 or 10^2.
g. Have students open the step labeled “King.” This step is to
be labeled “kilo,” and it has a value of 1000 or 10^3.
- Complete Metric Conversion Record Sheet. Use the Metric
Measurement foldable to help make the conversions. Have a
class discussion of patterns found. Have students write about
the patterns in their journals.
- Play the game Metric Dominoes. Students should be allowed
to use their journal notes, their foldable, and/or a calculator
to help make the conversions necessary on each domino to
find matches in this game. Copy two sets of Make It Metric
Dominoes on cardstock for each pair of students to play the
game. Have students cut apart the dominoes. The rules of play
are as follows:
a. Give each player five dominoes. Place the remaining
dominoes in a draw pile.
b. Player 1 places a domino on the table.
c. Player 2 puts down a domino with a metric equivalent. For
example, 40 cm and 400 mm are equivalent.
d. Players continue to take turns putting down dominoes one
at a time. If a player does not have a metric equivalent, that
player must continue to draw from the pile until a match is
e. The first player to use all of his dominoes is the winner.
- Have students write their own acronym for the metric prefixes.
- Have students write their own story to fit their metric prefix
- Have students use calculators to complete the Metric Conversion
Record. Dividing by ten as they move to the left and multiplying
by ten as they move to the right will help students to see the
patterns on the calculator.
- Have students make visual representations of some of the
linear metric measurements. Lay out one meter of masking
tape on the students’ tables. Have students line up base ten
rods the length of the meter to help them remember that ten
decimeters are equivalent to one meter. Have students line up
centimeter cubes the length of the base ten rods to discover that
ten centimeter cubes are equivalent to one decimeter, and one
hundred centimeters is equal to one meter.
- Have students look at a teacher-made visual representation of
one dekameter. Purchase one dekameter of rope. Tie knots in the rope to mark off each meter. Color each knot with
a marker. Stretch out the rope to show students the length
of a dekameter to help them remember that a dekameter is
equivalent to ten meters.
- Have students share the story of King Henry and their Metric
Measurement foldable with their family.
- Have students go on a metric scavenger hunt in their home.
Record items and/or ways that the metric system is evident in
their home. Come back and report their findings to the class.
- Have students play Metric Dominoes with their family.
- Correct the Metric Conversion Record Sheet for a grade.
- Have students complete the Metric Tic Tac Toe handout.
- Have students design their own Tic Tac Toe grid for a peer to
Peterson, Shelley Stagg. Teaching content with the help of writing across the curriculum.
Middle School Journal, November 2007, Vol. 39, Number 2, p26-33.
This study investigated the value of “discovery writing,” a type of
writing in which students have some control over the format, topic,
purpose, and audience, to “staccato writing,” a type of writing with
little or no control such as filling in blanks, copying notes from the
board, and short answers to questions, in the content areas. The
author found that student control led to greater understanding
of content area concepts. “Discovery writing” required greater
concentrated attention to sorting through and making sense of ideas on
the part of the learner.
Tomlinson, Carol Ann. Differentiating instruction. Middle Ground, August 2005, Vol. 9,
Number 1, p12-14.
The author gives guidelines to help teachers use differentiation.
Teachers must have “clear learning goals that are rich in meaning and
provide various avenues and support systems to maximize the chance
of each student succeeding.” Through specific examples such as pre-
assessment, meeting with small groups, using multiples presentation
and teaching modes, creating differentiated homework, scaffolding
reading, and allowing varied learning products, the author concretely
helps teachers to provide for the diversity of learners in the classroom.
Created Date :
Jul 14 2008 14:55 PM