Introduction to active measurement for younger primary students


Objective: Students learn to measure the length of objects with integer bars.

Manipulative Activity: Children use integer bars as a non-standard tool to measure length. After students have many experiences using non-standard measurements, they can use standard tools.

Students estimate and then use integer bars to measure the length of a pencil, crayon, book, scissors, and spoon.

Distribute integer (Cuisenaire) bars to all the children in the class. Students record information on a chart. They form cooperative groups of five students each, in which they are responsible for discussing what rods were used to measure their object (pencil, book, spoon, scissors, crayon). Students exchange objects and follow the same procedure.

Note: When students use the bars to measure objects, they should position the bars without leaving spaces between them. Sometimes their measurements may be off track. It is okay for young children to make estimations.

Technology Activity: Students use an integer bar applet written by Jacobo Bulaevsky to reinforce their understanding of non-standard systems of measurement. Depending on the availability of computers for your students, this activity can be done individually, with partners, in groups, or as a class.

Refer to How to Use the Integer Bar Program for directions.

Note: When students use the bars to measure objects using the applet, they should position the bars without leaving spaces between them and they should be careful not to overlap the bars.

Have students go to Measurement.

Paper/Pencil Activity: Depending on the level of your students, you can have them complete this activity individually or with assistance. A possible activity:

Students use rods to measure the length of other objects in the room. Give pairs of students a list of items to measure in the classroom. Students write down their estimations, then select bars to use for measuring items. Students can use a chart that has four sections.

  1. Item
  2. Estimation
  3. Colour
  4. Number

Literature Connections:

How Big Is A Foot?
Rolf Myller, Susan McCrath, (New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing, 1990)

Inch By Inch
Leo Lionni (New York: Astor-Honor, 1960)

Leo Lionni, (New York: Pantheon, 1975)