Introduction to Non-Standard Measurement

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Students will use non-standard measurement to measure various insects.

Big Idea

It's getting buggy! Students use unifix cubes as their non-standard measurement tool.


10 minutes

To kick this concept off, I begin by reading a picture book with my students, Measuring Penny by Loreen Leedy. I really like this book because Penny measures her dog using all types of non-standard tools. It provides a great visual, and gets my students thinking about measurement. After we read the story, I lead a discussion about what non-standard measurement is, and how Penny used it.


15 minutes

After reading and discussing the picture book, I explain to my students that for today's lesson we are going to use cubes as our measuring tool. I share that in Kindergarten we will use many tools to measure, including ruler!

Within the Houghton Mifflin math workbook, I have chosen a page that students will complete. The assignment requires my students to measure various bugs with unifix cubes. I like this page because it is fairly simple, which is great for an introduction to measurement. 

There are some free alternatives online. 123 Homeschool 4 Me has a bug measurement activity, and has a kindergarten measurement page with a selection of practice pages. 

Students gather in front of the whiteboard where the assignment is displayed.  My favorite part about this task is that each picture includes a line indicating where students should begin to measure and stop. This is a really important aspect of accurately measuring. I explain to students that the lines are there to help us know where we should begin and stop. 

At this point, I lay down cubes and measure the first bug. This bug is 4 cubes long. I then take the cubes and measure the same bug, only I do not start at the beginning line, which will make my meaurement off. I tell my students that I changed my mind, and have now decided the bug is 3 cubes long. They all begin to tell me "NO, you are wrong!" My hope was they would catch this error. I ask a student to explain why my answer of 3 is wrong. He promptly tells me that I did not begin at the starting line. This leads to a quick conversation about how important it is to measure accurately.

Next, I ask students to come up to the board and complete several of the measurement tasks for all of us. Once we have completed several together, students are ready to work independently.

Independent Work

15 minutes

At this point, students head off to their tables to complete the measurement activity. I am walking around the room, and helping as I go. Several students had issues with counting about how many cubes, and were trying to be exact. I address this in my reflection.

With the exception of the estimation issue, I was happy to observe that students were measuring and working together well. I thought this was a good, basic introduction to non-standard measurement.