K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

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Related pages

  • How long is your smile?: Students will use standard and nonstandard measurement to measure their smile.
  • Equal inches: In this lesson, students will begin measuring with nonstandard units and discover the need for a standard unit of measure. Students will also learn to measure to the nearest inch using an inch ruler correctly and record their results.
  • Measurement mania: Measurement Mania is a series of lessons that will actively involve students in several measurement activities. Students will gain hands-on practice while working within the classroom environment in small groups.

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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • learn to measure to the nearest inch and centimeter using a ruler.
  • learn to measure width and length.
  • gain an understanding of the vocabulary terms “horizontal” and “vertical.”

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

1 hour


  • charts to show horizontal and vertical measurement
  • rulers
  • yarn
  • cut colored slips of construction paper pre-measured 1-12 inches (one set for each partner group)
  • two sheets of construction paper per partner group
  • Worksheets 1-4


Introduction to the ruler

When measuring in inches use the numbers 1-12, when measuring in centimeters use the numbers 1-30 on the ruler. Measure a book from side to side, in inches, when measuring side to side you are measuring width, introduce the term “horizontal.” Measure the book from top to bottom in inches, when measuring from top to bottom you are measuring length, introduce the term “vertical.”

Related activities for centimeters

Measure various objects in the classroom using both inches and centimeters. Some pre-activities may be done alone and with partners.


  1. With a partner, students will measure the width and length of each other’s hands in inches and centimeters. Students will record information on worksheet one. Students will complete computation and problem-solving activities on worksheet one.
  2. With a partner, students will measure in inches and centimeters the width and length of each other’s foot. Students will record information on worksheet two. Students will complete computation and problem solving activities on worksheet two.
  3. With a partner and teacher assistance, teacher will need to help measure students’ smiles with yarn. (Cut the yarn for partners.) Students will measure the length of the yarn in centimeters with their ruler. Students will then complete activities on worksheet three.
  4. With a partner students will measure pre-cut slips of colored construction paper. The measurements will range from 1-12 inches. Measurements will be recorded on the slips of paper. Using these, the students will graph by gluing the slips on a sheet of construction paper, even numbers from shortest to longest and odd numbers from longest to shortest.


Teacher observation during the measurement process. Grade worksheets for computation correctness and number sentences. Check graphs to assess knowledge of even/odd numbers and length (short to long - long to short).

Supplemental information

On a sheet of white paper, turned longways, at the top write:
From shortest to longest

Here the students will paste the sheets of paper with even numbers from shortest to longest.

Same format as above for:

From longest to shortest

  • Common Core State Standards
    • Mathematics (2010)
      • Grade 2

        • Measurement & Data
          • 2.MD.1 Measure the length of an object by selecting and using appropriate tools such as rulers, yardsticks, meter sticks, and measuring tapes.
          • 2.MD.10 Draw a picture graph and a bar graph (with single-unit scale) to represent a data set with up to four categories. Solve simple put-together, take-apart, and compare problems1 using information presented in a bar graph.
          • 2.MD.3 Estimate lengths using units of inches, feet, centimeters, and meters.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Mathematics (2004)

Grade 2

  • Goal 2: Measurement - The learner will recognize and use standard units of metric and customary measurement.
    • Objective 2.01: Estimate and measure using appropriate units.
      • Length (meters, centimeters, feet, inches, yards).
      • Temperature (Fahrenheit).