Monday, May 16, 2016

A Highly Effective Approach to Creating Measurement Maniacs

Down here in “paradise,” we are in the home stretch of our school year.  This is the time when those tell-tale signs that summer vacation is right around the corner begin to taunt you.  You know the signs I’m talking about.  The days start to get warmer.  The students start to get restless.  You start to panic about squeezing in those last few standards that you still need to cover.    

Imagine the sand between your toes, and that cold drink in your hand. 

The hard part is done.  The bulk of the learning has been covered.  I’m reminded of this whenever I pick up that thick math journal we use, and invite the students to turn to a page towards the end of the book.  The END of the book.  We’ve made it!  It’s such a feeling of accomplishment.  

One of the last math units that we cover is measurement.  It has become my favorite unit thanks to author Steve Jenkins and his books Actual Size and Prehistoric Actual Size.  We use these books to take our learning outside for a hands-on approach to covering the measurement standards.  

Remember...summer vacation is right around the corner.  Your students are getting restless!  Taking them outside for some fresh air and a change of scenery may be just what they need (ahem...and maybe you need it a little too).  

We began with the book Actual Size because it shows creatures large and small at ACTUAL SIZE in inches and feet (US standard units of measurement).

Grab your copy HERE

Thanks to this handy-dandy anchor chart:

Click here if you would like this anchor chart for your classroom!

...and using color tiles and base-10 blocks to see and feel the difference between an inch and a centimeter: class had a basic understanding of the different measurements of length.  

So after our read aloud, the students formed small groups based on their favorite creature from the book.  They used sticky notes to record the lengths of these creatures in feet.  

Then we grabbed our rulers, some sidewalk chalk, and made our way to the great outdoors!

Once outside, I demonstrated how to record the number of feet drawn so that they knew when they reached the exact measurement of their creature.  

Much to my surprise, one group took the lesson a step further, and converted the length of their creature from feet to inches (I was part of my plan all along).  

Another group wanted to investigate how many 2nd graders it took to equal the length of their creature.  

Pretty impressive, right?  These kiddos were so into this lesson!

A few days later, we dove into Prehistoric Actual Size:

Pick up a copy HERE

This version shows parts of dinosaurs at ACTUAL SIZE measured in both US standard units as well as metric units.  This time, we focused on the metric units of measurement.  

We compared the units to base-10 blocks:

On the day we read this book, I had every intention of taking our learning outside once again...but it was raining.  Bummer!  So instead, we grabbed our whiteboards.  

As we read each page and learned about the length of the creatures, we converted meters to decimeters, centimeters to decimeters, and meters to centimeters.  

I asked questions like:  If a Velociraptor was 2 meters long, how many decimeters does that equal? Centimeters?  

Through a high-engagement game of Showdown, the students used their whiteboards to record their thinking and share their conversions with the group.  This also served as a great opportunity for me to informally assess their learning. 

So, if you are looking for a way to keep the momentum going and end the year with memorable experiences, I highly recommend these books.  When paired with these fun activities, you will be equipped with a no-fail approach to creating measurement maniacs in your classroom!  

Want even more high-engagement measurement activities? Try this fun game of Measurement Scoot:

Visit my store to grab this game!

I’d love to hear how you teach measurement in your classroom.  What tricks do you have up your sleeve?

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  1. Love this post! I am in the midst of first grade measurement…great ideas Melanie! …and yes, deep breath 'cause there is no stopping the end of the year!!

  2. What an awesome idea! Real Dino measurements!