Converting Length using U.S. Customary System

25 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


The students will be able to convert measurements of length within the U.S. Customary System.

Big Idea

One foot…. two feet… red foot… blue feet?


15 minutes

In today’s lesson students explore the length measurements associated with the U.S. Customary system.  Students measure objects around the room using a piece of string that is one foot long.  They then convert their measurements to inches and yards. 

As they do this work, students add to their graphic organizer the length units and create "a tool" to convert between the units.  I have the students practice converting using this conversion tool and then close the lesson with an exit slip involving some real world problems involving length conversions.

I give each pair of students a piece of string that is one foot long and explain they are going to measure things around the room using the piece of string, and these measurements must include things larger than 1 foot.  The students round their measurement to the nearest foot while conducting this investigation.  I give students about 5 minutes to measure and record five things in the room.  Students record their measurements on a sticky note or index card. 

Once students have completed their investigation I bring them back to the whole group.  As a group we begin to convert the measurements to inches and yards.  I ask a volunteer to share what they measured and the length of the object.  Before beginning the conversion I have students help me create the tool we devised yesterday to help us determine the operation needed.  I go through several examples with the students while they listen and watch. 


30 minutes

After modeling for the students how to do conversions of feet to inches and feet to yards I now have students work in pairs to complete a skills sheet for today.  Before allowing the students time to work with their partners I introduce the remaining conversion factor to them; 1760 yards = 1 mile. 

Students now add some thinking to their graphic organizer.  We add inch, feet, yard, and mile to the 4 tier of the hierarchy.  On the back of the graphic organizer we draw a simple tool for converting length that includes all conversion factors and operations for working with length in the U.S. Customary System.

I allow the students about twenty minutes to complete the conversions while I circulate the room and support students. 


15 minutes

To wrap up this lesson I have students complete an exit ticket which includes three story problems I created involving converting length units.  I use this information to guide me in deciding if further clarification is needed in converting length.  I look to see where students struggled to pin point exactly what part of converting is unclear to them.