Make Mine Metric!

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SWBAT explore the metric system by using tools to measure capacity, mass and length.

Big Idea

The students will be working on a hands-on exploration of the metric system where the scholars will be developing their own benchmarks to navigate through choosing the best unit of measurement.


5 minutes

The students will be completing 3 problems about decimals to prepare their thinking for the metric system.

Class will begin by asking the students what they know about the metric system.  I will guide them through a discussion about the metric system and its uses all over the world except for the United States.  With their partner, they will discuss why they think the metric system isn’t used in the United States.  Partners will share their thoughts out loud.  This discussion will focus on the lack of knowledge of the metric system by the people of the United States.  This is why we are going to look at the different units of measure to help us understand the metric system.  I will challenge the students by saying that I bet by the end of the metric system unit, they will like it better than the customary system!

I will direct students to the essential questions for the day:  What are the units of measurement in the metric system?  How is the metric system like the base 10 numbering system?  What are the similarities and differences of the metric system and customary system.

Exploring the metric system

65 minutes

The students will be exploring with metric units of measure.  At each table, place materials that will assist with the measuring of mass, capacity and length.  For management purposes, have the questions to ponder cards laminated so water doesn’t destroy the paper.  Also, the measuring supplies can be placed in stations so the students can get up and move and use only one unit of measurement at a time. As students investigate metric units of measure, have them observe and write down the following….

  1.  What does the measurement look like? (use real life benchmarks to help you remember)
  2. Are there any equivalent measurements?  (how many will “fit” into other units of the same measure.)

After students have made their observations with all three units of measure, bring them back for a whole class discussion.  Be sure to focus on the benchmarks and the ratios.

Once the discussion about the metric system is completed, go to the power point and use real life scenario questions to assess understanding. (slides 6 – 10).  Be sure to have the students justify their answers as this will be utilizing mathematical practice number 3.


15 minutes

This will be a recap of the lesson.  I will revisit the essential questions and have each student journal or think about the following questions.

  1.  What are the standard units of measurement for the metric system and what does each measure? SMP6: students attend to precision


  1. What characteristic does the metric system have that helps you determine when a ruler is metric? (SMP 2: what do the numbers tell us)
  2. What interval markings would you want on the cylinder if you had to measure .04 liter of liquid?
  3.  Describe what one meter looks like?  Is there anything in the classroom that is about one meter long or wide or high?(SMP8: explaining where they can use this)



This information will be shared as a whole group and collected for evidence of student learning.