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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  • Soooooo tall!: Students will build a figure out of Legos. There are two groups, and each group is competing with the other. Students build their tower of Legos as high as they can and then measure with a ruler or yard stick. The tower has to be free-standing so the children have to think of ways to keep the tower standing by itself.
  • Project Groundhog: The students will determine the groundhog prediction of either six more weeks of winter or an early spring and see if the prediction was accurate by recording daily weather data for six weeks. Over that six week period the students will be comparing their weekly data with schools around the USA and Canada using the Project Groundhog website.
  • Mass of maize: Students will weigh different products made from corn to determine if a cup of each product has the same mass. Students will use measurement and estimation skills.

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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • estimate, measure, compare, and collect data on length and height in customary and metric measure using various measuring tools.
  • create a class graph based on their data.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

2 hours


  • Data collecting worksheet
  • Tape measures — customary and metric
  • Yard sticks — customary
  • Yarn
  • Data collecting sheet/pencils
  • Tag-board or chart paper set up for a bar graph

Technology resources

  • MathKeys-Measurement Volume II
  • Activities: Naming Shapes I and II
  • Length Differences I
  • MathKeys-Fractions and Decimals
  • Activities: Lowest Terms I
  • Fresh Fruit Frenzy I


  • Students should have had hands-on exploration of whole and fractional parts
  • Students should have used MathKeys and hands-on measurement tools with a variety of objects.
  • Students should have been exposed to gathering data and graphs.


  1. Divide students in pairs; distribute measuring tools and data-collecting sheets.
  2. Review: knowledge of measurement, go over the fractional parts of an inch, review centimeters, etc., shapes-squares and rectangles.
  3. Ask the question, “Are you a square?” The data sheet gives instruction on how to determine this. Explain that the students must first estimate their height and arm span in inches and centimeters, then discuss with each other and the teacher why they estimated that measurement.
  4. Discuss how to measure accurately. Measure twice to check and remember that shoes are variables and should be removed. Explain that the students will measure each others height and arm span with the various measuring tools and record their data.
    • 1st - measure with the yarn and then use a yard stick to convert to yards.
    • 2nd - measure with the tape measures for exact measurements in inches and centimeters.

    Discuss to what fraction of an inch and to what centimeter the measurement should be rounded. (1 cm or 2 cm) (1/12 in or 1/4 in)

  5. Give the students time to measure and discuss. Move from pair to pair listening to their explanations for measurement choices. Once each pair has explained their choices, they are to measure using the tools and recording the data.
  6. When they have finished measuring, the students then know if they are a square, a tall rectangle, or a wide rectangle. Students will record their own information.
  7. Discussion: How many of you are Squares, Tall Rectangles, Wide Rectangles? What is the difference in each shape? Does anyone have a twin? (allow students to compare height and arm span measurements). Which was more difficult, using the yarn and yard stick to determine measurement, or using the tape measures? Why? Which gave the most accurate measurement?
  8. Now show class findings visually. Have each student that is a square go up and color in a block on the class graph in one color, repeat this with each classification until the graph is complete.
  9. Students will write two statements: What is the most common shape in this class? What is the least common shape?


  • Students’ oral explanations of estimates
  • Students’ written measurements and data
  • Teacher observation
  • Worksheet on measurement


I am an AIG teacher for fourth and fifth grade. This gives the students the chance to measure real objects in a fun way. I usually extend the lesson by teaching conversion from inches to feet etc. and from centimeters to meters, and from inches to centimeters.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • Mathematics (2010)
      • Grade 4

        • Measurement & Data
          • 4.MD.4Make a line plot to display a data set of measurements in fractions of a unit (1/2, 1/4, 1/8). Solve problems involving addition and subtraction of fractions by using information presented in line plots. For example, from a line plot find and interpret...
        • Grade 5

          • 5.MD.2Make a line plot to display a data set of measurements in fractions of a unit (1/2, 1/4, 1/8). Use operations on fractions for this grade to solve problems involving information presented in line plots. For example, given different measurements of liquid...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Mathematics (2004)

Grade 5

  • Goal 1: Number and Operations - The learner will understand and compute with non-negative rational numbers.
    • Objective 1.03: Develop flexibility in solving problems by selecting strategies and using mental computation, estimation, calculators or computers, and paper and pencil.
  • Goal 2: Measurement - The learner will recognize and use standard units of metric and customary measurement.
    • Objective 2.01: Estimate the measure of an object in one system given the measure of that object in another system.