Metric Vocabulary

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SWBAT write and draw about metric vocabulary terms.

Big Idea

Metric is the language of the scientific community and being able to understand and use these terms is an important science skill. Good vocabulary can help you say what you mean.

Bell Ringer - A Simple Metric List

5 minutes

How many word can you list from the Metric Unit?

Actively engage students in a quick Bell Ringer to get them thinking about metric vocabulary. Give students one minute to work with a partner and write as many words as possible from the Metric Unit. I added a level of excitement and created a competition. The group that had the most words on their list (metric words) was the winner. Then I let student winners pick a prize. I keep a "stash" of pencils, erasers, bookmarks, and stickers available for games and competitions.

Teacher Tip: To modify this for ELL and Special Education students, you can provide the first letter of these words or a picture of the words. As an option, extend this by having students explain a definition of each word on their list.

Possible answers for this activity include: length, volume, mass, temperature, thermometer, metric ruler, balance,graduated cylinder, kilometer, centimeter, millimeter.

Science Vocabulary Journal-Write & Draw

20 minutes

Common Core RI.6.4 states students should determine meanings of symbols, key terms, and other domain specific words as they are used in a specific context. I post a Metric Word Wall because it's best practice and when it's interactive it's even better. Word walls are strategies to increase vocabulary achievement through repeated daily exposure to these terms. Interactive word walls:

  • use semantic maps as graphic organizers
  • identify important ideas and how they fit together
  • visually show relationships among concepts
  • create a deeper understanding
  • can even have student generated material as a visual support

Good vocabulary can help you say what you mean. Everyday students must communicate ideas and thoughts, so it is important to build strong vocabulary skills. It's best practice, directly linked to student achievement, and there is a strong relationship between reading comprehension and vocabulary knowledge. 

I have students create a Science Vocabulary Journal where they write and draw about important vocabulary terms. I create a vocabulary term template for students to use with each word. This template includes: the term, a definition, a visual representation of the term, and examples and non-examples of the term. Giving students time to write and draw about each term will increase their overall achievement.

Today, students will complete the templates in their vocabulary journal for the terms mass and volume. Terms in this unit (Introduction to Science) include: scientific method, hypothesis, mass, volume, temperature, thermometer.

Teacher Tip: Some extended vocabulary activities to use in the classroom include: reading non-fiction text like newspapers and articles, playing dictionary games, doing word puzzles, using a thesaurus, knowing root words, and understanding prefixes and suffixes. 

Vocabulary Donut

15 minutes

Games and interactive activities are important to student achievement. Playing games is a powerful instructional strategy because:

  • Students learn through the process of playing games.
  • Games provide a context for engaging practice.
  • Students learn a variety of important skills through games.
  • Students develop a variety of connections to the content.
  • Games grab their attention and actively engage them.


By giving students time to review, they will increase their use and understanding of precise science vocabulary. I provide one copy of the Vocabulary Donut for each student. Students may choose any word from the unit. Since this is a metric unit students could choose any of the terms used in the unit such as: mass, length, volume, temperature, or metric system. Give students 30 seconds to fill in the term, one thing they know about the term, and where they learned this information. Then students trade their paper with their partner and add information to their partner's paper. They would continue to do this until they have added to each paper 4 to 5 times.