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

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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • demonstrate the ability to use a variety of non-standard unit of measurements to determine length.
  • apply knowlege of longest and shortest and compare items to each other.
  • be introduced to capacity and will be able to recognize vocabulary.
  • use an inch ruler to determine the length in inches.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

45 minutes


  • pencils for each student
  • paper clips
  • 8 rulers
  • 6 foot long pieces of string
  • paper cups
  • pitcher, milk container, large glass, water
  • various items to measure (pencils, fork, spoon, books, shoe, paper scissors, unifix cubes, glue stick, string, 5 different lengths of construction paper)
  • teacher-created worksheet (related to items measured)


  • The activity is a good culmination to a unit of measurement to review and practice concepts learned.
  • The teacher will need to create a handout for students to record their measurements. The handout will be dependent on the items measured. Alternatively, teachers may have students record measurements on notebook paper.


Students will be divided into groups of four. Each group will participate in one of the five teacher-created stations for seven minutes and complete the designated task in that area. The teacher will describe each of the five stations around the room. Students will be shown the worksheet and have explained the expectations of each station. The teacher will set a timer for seven minutes to keep the students on task and know when to change stations. Time is provided for replacing items as found and changing stations.

Station 1: Shortest to Longest

Students will practice putting items in order of shortest to longest. Students may work together at putting the three groups of items in order.

  • Group 1: Five strips of construction paper at varying lengths. Students will lay the strips of construction paper out and arrange them in ascending order of shortest to longest.
  • Group 2: Students will take the six items provided by the teacher in the center and arrange them in ascending order of shortest to longest. (Example, pencil, scissors, paper clip, unifix cubes, ruler, spoon).
  • Group 3: Students will repeat the process of arranging items in order as they did with the items in group 2.

Station 2: Measuring with paper clips

  • Students will practice measuring items with paper clips and record their data on the worksheet provided.
  • Students will arrive at station two to find a variety of items to measure with paper clips. They will determine the number of paper clips it takes to measure the length of a spoon, glue stick, string, pencil, book, etc.

Station 3: Measuring in Inches

  • Students will practice measuring items with an inch ruler and record their data on the worksheet provided.
  • Students will enter the station and measure five different items with a ruler to determine the items length in inches. Students will measure a pencil, fork, book, shoe and a piece of paper.

Station 4: Measuring in Feet

  • Students will practice measuring items in feet.
  • Students will enter the station and get a piece of string that is a foot long.
  • Students will measure the length of the items listed on their worksheet, counting how many times they used the string to complete the length of that item.
  • Students will record their data on their worksheet.
  • Students will be asked to measure the length of the room, the teachers desk, the chalkboard and the width of the door. They may work in pairs having each student hold one end of the string.

Station 5: Capacity

  • Students will sit with the teacher as she explains capacity.
  • Students will estimate how much liquid is in a large container and how many paper cups will be filled.
  • Teacher will show the students in the group a pitcher of water and ask them how many cups will be filled by the pitcher. Students will hold a cup while the teacher fills them with the water from the pitcher. Students will count each cup as it is filled and determine if their estimate was correct.
  • The process will be repeated with a large glass of water and a milk container.


Students will be evaluated on:

  • the completion and accuracy of their data worksheet.
  • teacher observation in the capacity center.
  • observation of participation and accuracy in the centers.


I find this lesson gives the students the opportunity to practice measurement concepts through a hands-on activity that they enjoy. During their station times I am able to work in a small group to explain the concept of capacity and answer questions more easily. This activity works best if there is an assistant or volunteer to monitor the first four stations and check students work in station one.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • Mathematics (2010)
      • Grade 1

        • Measurement & Data
          • 1.MD.1 Order three objects by length; compare the lengths of two objects indirectly by using a third object.
          • 1.MD.2 Express the length of an object as a whole number of length units, by laying multiple copies of a shorter object (the length unit) end to end; understand that the length measurement of an object is the number of same-size length units that span it with...
        • Grade 2

          • 2.MD.1 Measure the length of an object by selecting and using appropriate tools such as rulers, yardsticks, meter sticks, and measuring tapes.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Mathematics (2004)

Grade 1

  • Goal 2: Measurement - The learner will use non-standard units of measure and tell time.
    • Objective 2.01: For given objects:
      • Select an attribute (length, capacity, mass) to measure (use non-standard units).
      • Develop strategies to estimate size.
      • Compare, using appropriate language, with respect to the attribute selected.

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).