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Strand: MEASUREMENT AND DATA (K.MD) Standard K.MD.1
Strand: MEASUREMENT AND DATA (K.MD) Standard K.MD.2
In this activity students will explore the concept of using units to measure length.
Center 1: Heel to Toe
Center 2: Bull's-eye Bean Bag Toss
Center 3: Grab-bag Measurements
Center 4: Measuring Me!
The concept of using units to measure length will be explored in these activities. This measuring skill allows the students to compare the length of objects without placing them side by side. It also allows them to ponder these questions: How long? How short? How much longer? How much shorter?
Because students attention is drawn to the unit being used, the importance of labeling and recording the unit, as well as the number of units measured will be emphasized. Since non-standard units vary in size, children can be shown the importance of the size as well as the number of units in describing the length of an object. These activities will require the use of equal-length units. The most important concept to emphasize with the children is that more units are needed to measure a given quantity when the units are small than when they are large.
Additionally, research has shown that activities that involve estimating the length of an object in two different sized units and then checking these estimates by measuring are highly recommended. Therefore, the following activities are designed to develop that skill.
5. Understand and use basic concepts and skills.
6. Communicate clearly in oral, artistic, written, and nonverbal form.
As children arrive the following day, have them place the shoes they brought in the Shoe Store.
Invitation to Learn
Gather students in a large group for listening and discussing. Display a brightly colored shoe box.
Say: What two things do you think I have in this colorful box? Hmmmm....let me give you some clues...
They begin with the letter s
The sound at the beginning of this pair of items is sh
You can wear them
You can even measure things with them.
After students have had the opportunity to guess, take a right and left shoe from the shoe box, each of a dramatically different size, style, and color. Try to put both shoes on your feet. After much effort, stop and ask the children what the problem is.
Set the shoes aside and gather students in a large group setting appropriate for sharing the story, How Big is a Foot? by Rolf Myller. (The book concerns a kings decision to surprise his wife, the queen, on her birthday. The king plans to have a bed made for her. This gift was sure to be a great surprise, because beds had not yet been invented. This book is a terrific precursor for helping children understand that non-standard as well as standard units need to be equal in length.)
When measurements are not exact, students can use language such as almost 3 toothpicks, between 6 and 7 paperclips, close to 5 beans, or about 10 straws.
The children will now begin Math Centers. Four centers activities will be placed at numbered tables in the classroom. The teacher will divide students into groups of four. Preferably, each group will only have six students. Group 1 will go to Table 1, Group 2 will visit Table 2 and so on. Invite the parent volunteers as they arrive to sit at one of the four centers. A brief description of what the volunteers will be teaching will be at their center. The centers will last approximately 10-12 minutes each. When a bell rings two times, children will clean up their materials, give recording sheets to the parent volunteer, and stand by their chair until the signal is given to move to the next center.
Center 1: Heel to Toe
Procedure: Invite children to choose a shoe from the class Shoe Store. The children will place the shoe on a place mat in front of them at their table. The children will be directed to use an assortment of non-standard units to measure the shoe they have chosen. Prior to measuring, the students will be given a pencil and a Heel to Toe recording sheet. The sheet will ask students to guess how many units (e.g. paperclips, blocks, toothpicks, etc.) will be needed to measure the shoe. They will record their guess and then they will make the actual measurement and record it. The parent volunteer will help children to realize that the smaller the non-standard unit, the more units it takes to measure the shoe.
Center 2: Bulls-eye Bean Bag Toss
Procedure: Lay the bulls-eye target board flat on the floor in an open area in the classroom or outside on the blacktop. Each child is given a matching colored pair of bean bags. The teacher will design a starting line, far enough away from the bulls-eye to present a challenge to the students. Students will take turns throwing their bags toward the bulls-eye target. After each player has thrown the bean bags, they will use the nonstandard unit of measurement to measure the distance of their nearest bag to the bulls-eye target. The student that has the closest beanbag goes first (or last) in the next round. The students may also want to measure the distance of the bag that is farthest from the bulls-eye. As students become more skillful in this activity, they can begin to record results of each toss and compare their progress in landing on the target from one round to the next.
Center 3: Grab-bag Measurements
Center 4: Measuring Me!
Curriculum Extensions/Adaptations/ Integration
As young children perform measurements, it is easier for them when the objects they are measuring with are connected, like connecting cubes, paper clip chains, bead counters and so on. Iterating one unit over and over is much more difficult. This activity may help teach the concept of placing one single unit at the beginning of the object to be measured and iterating it end to end until they reach the end of the object to be measured.
Variation: Have the students use the jumbo paper clips and compare the lengths they found with the regular sized clips.
Annas Garden Songs, by Mary Q. Steele
Apples and Pumpkins, by Anne Rockwell
Growing Vegetable Soup, by Lois Ehlert
How a Seed Grows, by Helene Jordan; ISBN 0-06-445107-0
My Hand Rake, by Jonanne Barkan
Pierrots ABC Garden, by Anita Lobel
Planting a Rainbow, by Lois Ehlert
Solomons Secret, by Savior Pirotta
The Sunflower Garden, by Janice May Urdy
In class, read the story The Lost Button in Frog and Toad Are Friends (Lobel 1970). Send a tongue depressor home with students as well as a class newsletter, inviting parents to help their child collect used buttons. Instruct parents to help their child find 10 buttons of the same size and glue the buttons onto the tongue depressor. Students may use this new button ruler to measure household items. In the newsletter, invite students to find two things that are shorter and two things that are longer than their foot.
How many units long do you think this is?
Is it shorter or longer than you thought it would be?
Would it be better to use popsicle sticks or paper clips to measure this? Why?
Measure this item with paper clips. How long is it?
Measure it with straws. How long is it?
Hiebert, J. (1984). Why do some children have trouble learning measurement concepts? Arithmetic Teacher, 31 (7), 19-24 .
In this study, researchers found that even though children do not yet conserve or reason transitively on standard Piagetian tasks, they still benefit from concrete measuring activities. It was also determined that children in both control and experimental groups experienced some common difficulties and showed some basic misconceptions.
Clements, D.H., (1999). Teaching Length Measurement: Research Challenges. School Science and Mathematics, 99,(1), 5-11.
Researchers have found that standard units need to be utilized simultaneously with non-standard units as young children are learning measurement skills. Teaching young children to measure with only non-standard units does not necessarily lead to competence in measuring skills.