Measurement Resources

Elementary School Lessons & Materials for Teachers

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The lessons and materials available here come from a variety of sites and organizations. Some include offers for video or software, and some are lesson plans. Where the originals are Claris or Acrobat (PDF) documents, we have for the most part converted them to HTML, leaving a link back to the parent page from which you can download the formatted version.

For more on measurement, search or browse the measurement pages in the Internet Mathematics Library.

 Length, Area, and Volume

Area and Volume (Welch)
Students will be able to describe the difference between area and volume and to understand how various units of measure relate to one another.
Geometry and Measurement: Volume (instructional video) (Explorer)
Using the LxWxH formula, students invent ways to determine how many baseball boxes will fit a display case and how much water an aquarium will hold. They also learn that a formula is a shortcut for other methods of measurement and that the answer is always in cubic units.
Inch by Inch (Caniglia)
Creative measuring activities to develop a visual referent for helping students understand the concept of an inch.
The Mathematics of Cartography (Lanius)
Maps and measuring the earth: the history and math of mapmaking, some problems to solve, a list of cartography resources, and information on map-related careers.
Mysterious Measurements (Caniglia)
Measures knowledge of the concepts of perimeter, surface area, and volume, as well as showing how to write riddles.

  Metric Units and Conversions

Metric Conversions (Caniglia)
A board game that offers practice in converting one unit of metric length to another, and in the interpretation of abbreviations.
Smile Metric Style (Metder)
An activity that enables students to practice working with the metric system, which can be confusing and difficult for many.

 Non Standard Measurements and Estimation

Making Estimations in Measurement (Ballard)
Students estimate their own height, circumference, and foot length, and compare to estimations for a giant.
Non-Standard Measuring (Caniglia)
Students gain experience in measurement by using a non-standard measuring tool.
Teddy Bears and Oranges (Explorer)
Using Teddy Bear counters as non-standard units of measure, students estimate how many Teddy Bears will equal the mass of an orange, its peel, and then its flesh.

 Natural Phenomena

Just How Cold Is It? (Great Lakes Collaborative)
In this lesson the students use a thermometer to collect, record, and graph daily temperatures for two weeks.
Measuring Plant Growth (DeRoo)
Illustrates how certain seeds grow into plants and reproduce seeds at very rapid rates. A variety of bean seeds are planted in flower pots or milk cartons, watered, and placed in a sunny window. As the bean plant grows up an attached support string, its height may be measured in either inches or meters and the number of days recorded on graph paper that has been placed behind the plant.
Seeds Using Stored Food Supply (DeRoo)
Provides practice in measuring circumference and diameter in centimeters.
Tell Time with Your Feet (Addington)
Students tell time by measuring their shadows and using a shadow table.
Thermometers (Caniglia)
Introduces the concept of Celsius and Farenheit and includes instructions for creating each type of thermometer out of poster board and elastic. Provides the opportunity to read positive and negative numbers as well as match the degree of temperature with an event.
Tree Measurement (Vratil)
Students demonstrate measurement of the trunk, crown, and height using vertical and horizontal measurement; compare results with other groups; create a graph of their findings for the trunk, crown, and height of the tree; and define horizontal, vertical, and circumference.


Measurement and Frogs (Caniglia)
This activity focuses on a measurement activity that incorporates the concept of mean, median, and range using the Statistics Workshop.
Population Hunt (Great Lakes Collaborative - Jewell)
Students use World Almanacs to look up statistics about different cities in the U.S. After writing statistics found in both standard and expanded form, they are asked to compare, order and list the cities from greatest to least population.

Other Resources

  Reference Materials

Anglo-Saxon Weights and Measures (Proot)
How the system emerged, its long history, its many different units, whys, and whens of length, area, volume and capacity, weight, and miscellaneous units. (formerly Dave's Math Tables) (Manura)
A table of areas, volumes, and surface areas from a collection of useful math reference tables, formatted especially for the Web.
How Many? A Dictionary of Units of Measurement (Rowlett)
A dictionary of both metric (SI) and English measurement units, with history, links to related sites, and a bibliography.
Metric System/International System of Units (SI) (Proot)
How the metric system and the SI correlate with other systems, and the physical and engineering units: history of systems; basic units (length, weight, time, temperature); secondary units (area and volume); physics (force, pressure, work & energy, power).
Metric System and Unit Conversion (Logan)
Advantages of the metric system: it was based on a decimal system (i.e.: powers of ten) and therefore simplifies calculations; it is used by most other nations of the world, and therefore has commercial and trade advantages. If an American manufacturer with domestic and international customers is to compete, it must absorb the added cost of dealing with two systems of measurement. List of prefixes, types of measure.
SI - The International System of Units (Kemp)
Introduction to the Metric System. The International System of Units (SI) is a modernized version of the metric system established by international agreement. SI provides a logical and interconnected framework for all measurements in science, industry, and commerce. The metric system is much simpler to use than the existing English system since all its units of measurement are divisible by 10. More metric information; GAO report on highway signs, FAQ.

 Projects and Competitions

Measurement in Motion Math/Science Competition (Learning in Motion)
Pose an interesting math or science question, based on either a supplied QuickTime movie or a QuickTime movie of your own. Then use Measurement in Motion to investigate and analyze the movie, and present your results. Eligible students must be enrolled in a K-12 school within the United States or its territories, and be sponsored by a teacher. Entries can be submitted by a single student or a group of students.
The Noon Observation Project (Levin, Rogers, Waugh & Smith)
A joint effort among interested schools worldwide in accurately estimating the circumference of the earth. Mathemetics (algebra, geometry, trigonometry, elementary statistics), science, social science, social studies, and geography can be enhanced through this project. How to compute local noon at your location; a form for submitting your Noon Observations; an explanation of the formulas for computing the Earth's circumference from the shadow lengths; Eratosthenes.
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Mara Landers

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