Begin by reading the story Ladybug on the Move
by Richard Fowler and the use of nonstandard units for measuring the
length of objects or space. Allow students to participate in retelling
the story.
Review the attributes of length and how to measure it. Discuss
other things that can be used to measure length or distance and are
readily available—this activity encourages students to consider using
their feet as a nonstandard unit of measurement. Record the students’
list on a chart and post it for future reference. Encourage students to
share ideas of nonstandard units for measuring. If a student names feet
as a method of measuring, launch the new lesson. If no one mentions
feet or steps, allow students to share their ideas and then ask, “What
about our feet?”
Discuss how to measure the length of the classroom walls,
rugs, and desks, or how to measure the distance from the door to the
window or from the classroom to the bathroom by using students’ own two
feet and counting the number of steps. Another way to measure with feet
that works especially well for kindergarten students is to pair
students, give them construction paper and crayons so that they can
trace the other person’s foot, cut out the paper foot, and use it for
measuring “steps.”
Demonstrate how to measure the length of a chalkboard or
bulletin board by placing one foot in front of the other and counting
each step. Have the students count with you as you measure and record
the measurement beside the name of the object on the board or chart
paper. For younger students, you may want to use a picture cue in
addition to the word.
Divide the class into teams of two and give each team a couple
of objects or spaces to measure, for example, distance between objects
in the room. Remember that, to work independently, younger students
usually need picture cues for the items to be measured. The students
should record their ‘feet’ measurements and share the results with the
entire class. It is appropriate for students in grades one and two to
use tally marks or materials markers to record the number of units
used. Record the measurements under your chalkboard or bulletin board
measurement chart. Leaving these labels in place helps the students
remember the measurement activity and purposes for measuring. You may
also wish to distribute the Measuring Distances Activity Sheet to students so they may record their measurements as they work.
Measuring Distances Activity Sheet
Older students can compare the lengths of various classroom
objects or spaces to determine attributes such as shorter and longer,
shorter and taller, and wider or narrower. Younger students can use
actual objects (such as broken pencils with new pencils, books of
various lengths and widths) to compare lengths instead of using steps.
To conclude this lesson, give students the opportunity to use Hiding Ladybug Applet.
Hiding Ladybug Applet
This interactive math applet allows students to practice
measurement skills by estimating and calculating how far a ladybug must
travel to hide under a leaf. Be sure to direct student’s attention to
the fact that the distance the ladybug moves is equivalent to the
length of the arrow. Demonstrate how to select the arrows to generate
forward or backward movements and the selection of angles to negotiate
turns of different “sizes” (45 or 90 degrees). Show students how to
clear one step or all steps and how to click on the arrow at the top
right of the applet for the ladybug to move according to the plan.