1 class periods of 45 minutes each
Students will measure objects using everyday household items:
paper clips, toothpicks, Popsicle sticks, and more. They will work on choosing
the right measuring tool for the size of the object, not mixing tools while
measuring an object, and starting to measure at the end of an object not in the
- Have 5 containers of different measuring tools for each table. Some examples
are: paper clips, tooth picks, Popsicle sticks, pennies, gram cubes, washers, and
cotton swabs. Any items can be used, just be sure you have an assortment of
lengths in your tools.
- At each table have about 15 assorted objects for the kids to measure; some
can be round, square, rectangular or irregularly shaped.
Background for Teachers
Measuring is an important science skill. Before students use a ruler they
can measure with everyday objects. A student can measure a book and find it to
be 15 paper clips long. As they measure a book with paperclips they will use
three rules for measuring: place the first tool at the end of the object, each tool
must touch end to end in a straight line, and they can only use one tool at a time
to measure an object. Students will be measuring without having to understand
the markings on a ruler.
Intended Learning Outcomes
- Conducting investigations. Collecting data. Drawing conclusions.
- Sharing ideas with peers. Using multiple methods of
- Differences in conclusions are best settled through additional observations and investigations.
Show students several of the measuring tools and an
object to measure. Act out the three rules and see if students can discover the
rules with you. Mix measuring tools for one object and students will decide that
doesn't make sense. Start measuring in the middle of an object and students
will understand that you won't measure an entire object if that is done. Use a
tool that is too long or too short to measure an object and students will suggest
that a different tool be used.
- Show the students the measuring tools at their table. Some students may not
know all their names so be sure and go over them.
- Hand each student a container of a measuring tool and an object to measure.
- Students should follow the measuring rules explained and then report to the
adult at the table how long their object is. Be sure students give their unit
after the number. For example, "this wooden block is 10 pennies long".
- Students should describe the length of their object to the nearest unit. They
can use words such as: almost, between, close to or about. If students
understand the concept of 'a half' let them use that as well.
- After students complete each object have them chose another object and
measuring tool. Help them choose the best measuring tool for the job. If it is a
large object use a large measuring instrument and vice versa.
- Towards the end of the activity, have students predict the length of an object
using one of the tools. See how close they come to their prediction.
- When students get done measuring the objects at their table they can also
measure objects around the classroom and even measure the other students in
their group by measuring them on the floor.
Rio Tinto Hands-on Science Curriculum Team
- Ms. Rae Louie -- Administrator, Principal Beacon Heights Elementary
- Emily Mortensen -- Grant writer, teacher outreach, 2nd grade teacher at Beacon Heights Elementary
- Ruth Li -- Curriculum design, K-6 Science Educator at Indian Hills Elementary
- Deirdre Straight -- Curriculum development, K-6 Science Educator at Beacon Heights Elementary
- Tim Rausch -- Website development, Library Media at Beacon Heights Elementary