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Measuring with Teacher’s Feet

Carol Midgett
Location: unknown

In this lesson, students use nonstandard units to measure the distance between objects found in their classroom. They create a nonstandard unit by using an outline of the teacher’s foot and cutting around it to use as a “measurer.” Students generate a list of four or five objects in the classroom from which they will measure the distance to their work space.

Trace an outline of the teacher’s foot on construction paper and cut it out. Tell the students that this is the tool you will use to measure distances in the classroom. Have students identify four or five objects in the room and use the cutout to measure the distance from where you stand to those locations.

Record on a chart the location and the number of “feet” required for reaching them. Recording this information on a chart allows student to refer to it during the lesson. A Sample Foot Measurement is provided for your use. These could be used to create an overhead transparency to demonstrate how to place the foot end-to-end in order to measure longer distances.

pdficon Sample Foot Measurement 

Pair students and have them use multiple cutouts of your foot to measures the distances from their workplace to the identified objects. Using a lightweight poster board makes the foot “measurers” more durable. You should provide plenty of copies of the cutout of your foot or have students cut multiple copies so that they may practice measuring with multiple units before using only one unit.

 414 foot 414 foot 414 foot 414 foot 414 foot

Have each student measure and record the distance from his or her “work space or home base” to the objects you measured. (A management strategy could be to have pairs of students record for each other. While one student measures, the other might record.)

pdficonGetting There With Teacher’s Foot Activity Sheet 

Distribute the Getting There With Teacher’s Foot Activity Sheet to students so they can draw pictures of the destination objects and to write the number of “feet” required to reach them.

Set a timer or tell the students how long they will have to complete the task. At the appointed time, have students gather with pairs seated beside each other. Have each set of students share the result of their measurement. Discuss the differences in measures and how they happen.

Assessment Option

You may choose to use the Class Notes recording sheet to document student progress in this unit. 


Move on to the next lesson, Measuring With Our Foot.


Questions for Students 

1. When you measured the distance between our work space and the objects, what did you notice?

[Student responses may vary, but they may include: the greater the distance between the work space and the object, the more feet needed.]

2. Which object required the most number of feet? The least?

[Student responses will depend upon the distances involved in today's measurement activity.]

Teacher Reflection 

  • Were the learning expectations and pacing of this lesson appropriate for your students?
  • How could the lesson be changed to achieve the learning objectives?
  • What prerequisite activities should students have prior to this lesson?
  • What remediation activities would help students learn the objectives of this lesson?
  • What experiences or activities would challenge competent students?

Measuring with Our Foot

Students measure the same distances as in the previous lesson using an outline cutout of their own foot. This enables students to practice using nonstandard units and to compare the measurement totals using their feet and the teacher’s foot.

Learning to Measure with Ladybug

The mathematical foci of this lesson are geometric concepts, location, navigation, direction, and spatial relationships and measurement concepts, using nonstandard units to measure a distance, and the iteration of units, measurement by using the same unit of measure repeatedly to determine the total. Students practice measuring with multiple units and a single unit following the methods modeled by the teacher and those appropriate for their level of understanding.
Number and Operations

Here's a Handful

Students construct sets of up to five items, write the numeral 5, identify sets of five, and record "5" on a chart. They also play a game that requires recognizing the numerals to 5. This lesson provides opportunities for connecting mathematics with music.

Handy Map

This lesson engages students in creating a map of their hands. It provides purpose for using directional or positional words with mapping. The teacher draws a map of his or her hands and begins mapping them using words the students suggest. This allows the teacher to assess positional concepts students currently know and to build on that knowledge. Students create a simple map.

Facing Up

In this lesson, students create a map of their face and practice locating different parts using the geometric and measurement concepts they have learned in previous lessons, including location, navigation, spatial relationships, and measurement with nonstandard units. Students reproduce their face and describe it to reinforce their knowledge and skills of measuring and mapping. Using these familiar territories connects mathematics with daily encounters.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Recognize and use the attributes of length.
  • Measure using nonstandard units.
  • Repeat a single unit to measure something longer than the unit.

NCTM Standards and Expectations

  • Describe, name, and interpret direction and distance in navigating space and apply ideas about direction and distance.
  • Recognize the attributes of length, volume, weight, area, and time.
  • Understand how to measure using nonstandard and standard units.
  • Measure with multiple copies of units of the same size, such as paper clips laid end to end.

Common Core State Standards – Mathematics

-Kindergarten, Measurement & Data

  • CCSS.Math.Content.K.MD.A.1
    Describe measurable attributes of objects, such as length or weight. Describe several measurable attributes of a single object.

-Kindergarten, Measurement & Data

  • CCSS.Math.Content.K.MD.A.2
    Directly compare two objects with a measurable attribute in common, to see which object has ''more of''/''less of'' the attribute, and describe the difference. For example, directly compare the heights of two children and describe one child as taller/shorter.

Grade 1, Measurement & Data

  • CCSS.Math.Content.1.MD.A.1
    Order three objects by length; compare the lengths of two objects indirectly by using a third object.

Grade 1, Measurement & Data

  • CCSS.Math.Content.1.MD.A.2
    Express the length of an object as a whole number of length units, by laying multiple copies of a shorter object (the length unit) end to end; understand that the length measurement of an object is the number of same-size length units that span it with no gaps or overlaps. Limit to contexts where the object being measured is spanned by a whole number of length units with no gaps or overlaps.

Grade 2, Measurement & Data

  • CCSS.Math.Content.2.MD.A.4
    Measure to determine how much longer one object is than another, expressing the length difference in terms of a standard length unit.

Common Core State Standards – Practice

  • CCSS.Math.Practice.MP5
    Use appropriate tools strategically.