How Many Cubes?

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Students will use non-standard measurement to measure various classroom objects with unifix cubes.

Big Idea

Students love to have choice and move around the classroom in this measurement lesson that begins with a beloved picture book.


15 minutes

To begin this lesson, I gather students on the carpet to read the well-known picture book: Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney.  In this story, Little Nut Brown realizes how hard it is to measure the amount of his love.

As I am reading the story, I ask students questions such as, "Can we use a ruler or cubes to measure Nut Brown's love?" The purpose of reading this book is to get my students thinking about measurement and outside of the box. Also, most of my students have heard this story before and they love to listen.

Once we finish the story, it is time to give students their task for today. I have created a sheet that has various items from around our classroom: a book, a pencil, a crayon, a shoe. I instruct my students that today's assignment is to move around the room and measure these items with cubes. I explain that each student might have a different answer depending on which book, crayon, pencil, etc. they have chosen to measure. It is important to let the students know that I do not expect them to measure a specific book, crayon, etc. I wanted this activity to allow students some choice.

Setting ground rules for this type of activity is important. I need my students to understand this activity is meant be fun, but it is not play time. I inform the class that any friends who are off task will be asked to sit down at their table, and measure items that I give them; eliminating their opportunity to have choice and move freely around the room. I discuss this further in my reflection.


Independent Practice

20 minutes

I place piles of cubes in the center of each table, and send students off to measure independently. 

As students work, I move around the classroom to observe and assist if needed. I did note that most of my students chose to measure their math workbook as a book. Only a couple of students choose a book from our classroom library. 

I also noted that some students took of their own shoe to measure, while others worked with a partner to measure each other's shoes.

This lesson went wonderfully. Students were highly engaged and having a great time. There was also not one incident of a child being off task. Which  is a good reminder to myself that if children are off task, the design of my lesson could be part of the problem.

I have included a student video of this activity.