How Long? A Fishy "Tail"

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SWBAT compare objects by their length and put them in order.

Big Idea

Before entering first grade, young children need to have a basic understanding of measurement. They do not need to be able to use standard units of measurement, but they must be able to use the basic attributes of length.

Daily Calendar & Counting Review

15 minutes

Each day we begin our math block with an interactive online calendar followed by counting songs and videos.

Calendar Time:

We do calendar on Starfall every afternoon.  This website has free reading and math resources for primary teachers. It also has a  “more” option that requires paying a yearly fee. The calendar use is free. A detailed description of Daily Calendar math is included in the resources.

Counting with online sources: Today we did counting practice to reinforce the counting skills. We watched two to three number recognition 0-10 videos (one to two minutes each) because some of my students students were still struggling with identifying numbers correctly in random order. We watched"Shawn the Train" and counted objects with him to refresh our memories on how to count objects to ten and to reinforce one to one counting. Since we have started the second quarter of the school year, we added to today's counting practice: counting to 20 forward and backcounting by tens to 100 and counting to 100by ones to get a jump on our end of the year goals.

Direct Instruction

10 minutes

I begin this lesson like the other measurement lessons. We watch the measuring videos because the kids love them and it gets them thinking about the skill they will be using today.

Sesame Street: Measure, Yeah, Measure


Then we watch the "fishy" video Having Fun With Measuring! to learn about length/width.

This video is perfect because it reflects exactly what we are going to do today, except we will be using large paper clips instead of pencils.

After watching and discussing Having Fun With Measuring! video, I demonstrate for the kids how they will be measuring their fish. I also demonstrate how we will sort the fish by length.

Guided Instruction

10 minutes

Each pair of kids is given a stack of fish cards and a box of large paper clips. Each time they play a round, they each draw a fish from the card pile.

I have them measure a fish while I measure mine under a doc cam. I have them mirror my actions on the fish at their table.

Once they have measured their fish, I have them tell their partners** how many large paperclips long it is. They then compare their fish to determine which one is longer.

**Partners are assigned with great care in mind. I partner kids according to ability levels. See the demo video below to see how I partner and/or group kids.

We continue doing this until the kids begin working ahead of me which tells me they have taken ownership of the activity.

I let them begin the independent practice time when I am convinced they are ready.

Independent Practice

15 minutes

For independent practice, students are asked to continue to draw, measure and compare their fish for the 15 minutes they have to play.

I roam the room and ask questions as they work like, "How do you know where to start measuring?"
"How do you know your fish is longer/shorter?," and "Please show me how you measured your fish."

I allow them to personalize the game as long as it doesn't compromise the goal of the activity or cause a behavior problem. One group decides to compete partners against partners as the same table. They begin to compare fish four ways rather than two.They work in quads.

I occasionally ask kids to prove to me how many paper clips long their fish is. It's important that kids understand what they are doing and why so they can have a strong foundation in measurement to build on in first grade where the concept gets more challenging.  Having them explain it or "teach" it to me is the best way to get them to do that.


10 minutes

After we are finished practicing with our partners, we gather back on the rug to discuss our experience and what learning we can share.

I ask the table that played in a quad what they did, how and why. The other kids loved it. One student suggests that we should all have different length fish and we should line up in order of the length of the fish.

Other kids share what they learned about measuring the fish using the paperclips. They share suggestions on how to improve the activity. I take them into consideration and adjust the activity accordingly the next time we play.

I want the kids to know that I take their requests seriously and that their needs and suggestions are important to me.

This makes them feel validated and provides a buy-in for learning.

Exit Ticket

5 minutes

The exit ticket for this activity is the kids identify objects that are longer and shorter. For sets 1,3, 4 and 5 I ask the kids to circle the long object. For sets 2, and 6 I ask them to circle the shorter object. I do not follow the printed directions on the page.

As I collect the papers, I place them in to three different piles:

Meets - no errors

Approaches - one error or two errors

Falls Far below - 3 or more errors

The meets kids continue with the unit as planned and may also receive challenge lessons. The Approaches kids are asked one at a time to explain their thinking. I find that it is often misidentification of objects that causes the problem with these kids. The FFB kids are pulled into a small group and given further instruction.