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Hands Around the World

Use measurement and problem-solving skills to determine how many children (holding hands) could reach around the world.

  • Grade 4
    Grade 5
    Grade 6
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. On the playground or in a large room, measure a line 50 yards (or meters) long with a tape measure. Count how many children, holding hands, are needed to reach across 50 yards.
    2. Working with a partner, students choose a destination on another continent. Students determine how far it is from where they live and calculate how many children it would take to reach there.
    3. Then students determine the number of children it would take, holding hands, to reach around the world. Use a calculator if necessary.
    4. On a large sheet of construction paper, use Crayola® Markers and Crayons to illustrate how you solved either one of the problems. Present the solution to the class. How many different solutions were discovered? How much variation is there in the answers?
  • Standards

    LA: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.

    MATH: Find whole-number quotients of whole numbers with up to four-digit dividends and two-digit divisors, using strategies based on place value, the properties of operations, and/or the relationship between multiplication and division.

    MATH: Convert among different-sized standard measurement units within a given measurement system (e.g., convert 5 cm to 0.05 m), and use these conversions in multi-step, real world problems.

    VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of experiences and ideas.

    VA: Select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of ideas.

  • Adaptations

    Working in small groups, students measure and record each other's arm span. Merge all groups' data into a whole class set. Provide each student with a complete list of the class data. Students calculate the mean arm span of the class. Use this average value to calculate how many students it would take to circle the Earth (using Earth's circumference = 24,901.55 miles or 40,075.16 kilometers). Students make conversions of miles into feet for better understanding. If using metric measurement, students convert kilometers into meters for understanding.

    Working in small groups, students compose original math word problems that involve using student arm span and or student height. Students write their word problems in an electronic format for future use.

    Students measure the perimeter of their school. Using the average arm span of the class, students calculate the number of students needed to cover the perimeter of the school building.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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