Measurement tends to become one of those units that doesn’t get as prioritized as teaching addition and subtraction. However, measurement is an extremely important skill that we use a lot in our daily lives. Whether we are creating something, getting ready to purchase a new item that needs to fit in a specific place, or looking at a new outfit online, all of these things require important measurements. In this post you are going to learn some quick tips for teaching nonstandard measurement, while also making it fun and engaging for students!
The What and the Why
So what exactly does nonstandard measurement mean and why do we teach it? Nonstandard measurement is basically measuring with everyday items, such as your shoe, a paper clip, or blocks. This is students’ first exposure to measuring and there are some really important things that need to be taught so that students know how to measure properly. Some other things included within the standard are comparing and ordering objects by length. It is the foundation for teaching measurement they’ll later learn using things like measuring tapes, rulers, and yardsticks.
Setting the Stage
So first things first, we set the stage for students. One of the best and most ORGANIC ways to introduce measuring is to have them measure THEMSELVES! On the first day of our measurement unit, I love to start by reading the book, “How Big is a Foot?”. This read aloud brings up great knowledge and discussions about the importance of measuring and how it can be different depending on the different unit sizes. After reading, students are partnered up while they each get to measure each other, with their shoes! Not only will they have a great time, but this is a great exploratory lesson to begin discussing all those important pieces of measuring.
Before students begin measuring with their partners, you can practice by choosing one child to measure. I’ll have the student lie down on the floor and model for students how to measure the length by starting at the top of the head. We then carefully move the shoes down their friend’s body without gaps to get the closest measurement possible. Provide students with the recording sheet to help gather their measurements and ask important questions. If students have more time left, they can measure a second time using their friend’s shoes to see the difference in units measured depending on the size of the foot, just like in the story. At the end of the lesson, bring students back together and have them discuss what they noticed while measuring and what they learned about measurement. This is a great stopping point for the first lesson.
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Make It Meaningful
After setting the stage for measurement, you can now begin to teach students ALL the critical vocabulary words and the importance of measuring correctly. A great video that I love using to help introduce all those important concepts is Brainpop Jr. Nonstandard Measurement. This provides students with more background about measuring. After watching the video, it’s time to have students practicing with nonstandard measurement! Take a look at the anchor charts I love using below to help students understand and remember all those important things when measuring. Below you’ll also find an anchor chart that I love making WITH students so they can see nonstandard measurement live in action and can be displayed for the remainder of the unit.
After you’ve got the foundational knowledge, now it’s time for THEM to practice! I like to have students work in pairs and provide them with a bag of ‘tools’ (see examples below) to measure the lengths of objects around the classroom. This is where they can really put their skills to the test and see if they remember ALL those important things while measuring. Some discussion questions to ask while they work are:
“How many ____ long is the object being measured?”
“Which object is the shortest?”
“Which object is the longest?”
“Are there any objects that are the same length?” “How do you know?”
“What would happen if you measured _____ with _____ instead?”
Another fun activity that students can engage in during this time is a ‘measure the room’ task where students walk around the room and measure the different objects on cards using the items provided to students. You can provide students with a bag of paper clips as their measuring tools and let them roam or you can create stations using different objects to measure. Either way, it’s a great activity to get students up and moving while practicing important skills!
Play ALL the Games
Measurement is a unit that is perfect for creating a hands on experience for students. If students are touching and manipulating things, chances are we can make it into some sort of game to play. Learn about why playing in the classroom is so important HERE! Not only do these games help students understand these concepts… but they are also SO fun! They are perfect for center activities and allow for students to practice measuring and comparing lengths. Look below at some of the engaging ways students get practice with these skills.
Wrap up all that wonderful learning with this adorable math craft that will look perfect on the bulletin board! Students will get to choose their own bug to create and measure.
Below you’ll see the jam packed math centers bundle that includes ALL these engaging activities and more… with a FREEBIE of course! This bundle will help you have engaging, fun, and hands on math activities for the ENTIRE YEAR. Make math a time your students are sure to love and remember! This is also a GROWING bundle because as I come up with more hands on ideas, I continue to add them to the bundle! So each new resource that gets included, you get for FREE!
I hope you enjoyed learning some fun ways to help students become MASTER measurers. This is a CRUCIAL life skill for students and the deeper the understanding of these skills, the better! Let’s help students not only be successful but have FUN doing it! I really hope you enjoyed learning more about how to teach nonstandard measurement in the classroom! Don’t forget to subscribe to my email list! Not only will you get the most up to date tips, tricks, and classroom projects… and of course more fun FREEBIES including the How Big Are We FREEBIE! You will also have exclusive access to tons of digital how to videos! If you would like to learn about this and other things happening in my classroom follow me @sweetnsauerfirsties on Instagram.
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