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Metric Me!

Become a body ruler! Measure ears, arms, legs, or feet to gain a familiarity with metric lengths. Chart your findings in a colorful sketch.

  • Grade 2
    Grade 3
    Grade 4
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Tell students you are taking away all linear measuring instruments: rulers, yard sticks, etc. Ask students how they would measure things without these tools. Then ask how their abilities to measure without a system such as inches or millimeters. What "tools" could they use to calculate length? An arm? A leg? If so, what would happen as they grew?
    2. Invite students to measure at least three body parts such as an ear height, finger length, or foot width. With Crayola® Erasable Colored Pencils, students record their findings in millimeters (and inches if you are just learning the metric system) on a chart. If time permits, measure additional body parts such a forearm, the length from one's knee to the floor, etc. Record these mesurements on charts.
    3. On a large piece of \craft paper, students work in teams of two to outline their bodies. Cut out paper body parts lengths such ss arms and legs with Crayola Scissors. Students label the length of each piece. With a Crayola Glue Stick, attach them in place on your outline. Decorate a colorful border with Crayola Markers.
    4. Working in teams, students select one of their body lengths and measure typical classroom items sucha as the length and height of a white board, width of a door, height of a window, length of a new pencil, etc. Record measurements and document the type of measurement tool used (length of an arm, length of an index finger, etc.).
    5. As a whole class activity, discuss the challenges faced when no standard unit of measure is available.
  • Standards

    LA: Draw on information from multiple print or digital sources, demonstrating the ability to locate an answer to a question quickly or to solve a problem efficiently.

    LA: Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about kindergarten topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.

    LA: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace

    MATH: Know relative sizes of measurement units within one system of units including km, m, cm; kg, g; lb, oz.; l, ml; hr, min, sec. Within a single system of measurement, express measurements in a larger unit in terms of a smaller unit.

    VA: Use different media, techniques, and processes to communicate ideas, experiences, and stories.

    VA: Use visual structures of art to communicate ideas.

    VA: Select and use subject matter, symbols, and ideas to communicate meaning.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: Me and My Amazing Body by Joan Sweeney; First Human Body Encyclopedia by DK Publishing; Inside Your Outside: All About the Human Body by Tish Rabe; My First Human Body Book by Patricia J. Wynne; Basher Science: Human Body: A Book with Guts by Dan Greene & Simon Basher

    Encourage students to experiment with standards of measure. For example, one student may make the length of his thumb a unit of measure (1 thumb) and measure accordingly. Students convert measurements into "thumbs" and write these on their body posters, too.

    Ask students if they know that the United States is one of three countries in the world that uses a non-metric system of weights and measurements. It is the only industrialized country of the three. Encourage students to analyze why this could be a disadvantage for the United States, as well as other countries working with the U.S.

    In 1670, Gabriel Mouton of France, originated the metric system. Who was he? How did he develop this system of measurement?

    Students research a human system such as the human heart. How large is a child's heart? How much does it weigh? How much space does it need in the chest cavity to function correctly? Students research these measurements and can extend this investigation into the functioning of the heart, how much blood flows through it in a second, minute, etc. Students may also choose to include a heart on their body posters with this information. Or, a 3-D model of the heart can be created using Crayola Model Magic.


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