Measuring Butterflies and Caterpillars

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Students will accurately use non-standard measurement.

Big Idea

Butterflies and caterpillars are the focus of this measurement lesson, integrating our math and science curriculum.


10 minutes

As an introduction to this lesson I use a short, five minute  Sid the Science Kid video.


10 minutes

For the mini-lesson, I gather students in front of the white board. I ask them to remind me about measurement, and what we have learned so far. I am hoping to hear thoughts about: measuring items with objects instead of rulers, and being accurate (MP6 - Attend to precision). It is important for me to have students recall information. I feel as if students have a better chance at remembering important ideas when I frequently ask them to refer back to concepts.

I display today's assignment. The task is to measure various butterflies and caterpillars using unifix cubes. I made this worksheet, and used butterflies and caterpillars because we are currently learning about their life cycle in science. I have included lines on the objects as a beginning and stopping point to measure. This is only our 2nd lesson on measurement, so I felt it was still important to guide students with the lines.

I complete two of the measurement tasks with the class as a whole group. I measure one item for my students, and discuss what I am thinking/doing as I go. I then call a student up to measure another item.

At this point, I send students off to work independently.

Independent Work

15 minutes

Students go off to their tables to independently measure the butterflies and caterpillars. I have included a video of students working. The specific video highlights a common misconception I found among students- not estimating a measure. So many students try to be exact, which can make measurements off.

I also instruct students that I want them to color the pictures when done measuring. I explain this further in my reflection.

As students are measuring, I move around the room to help with any difficulties and make observations. Overall, I was very pleased. Students are accurately measuring and on task!