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Measuring with Our Foot

Carol Midgett
Location: unknown

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.

Review yesterday’s lesson by showing the outline of your foot and the process for measuring the space between your work space and objects in the classroom. Encourage students to ask questions about what you did and how you did it. Model for students how they may work in pairs to trace each other’s foot on construction paper and cut it out. You might want to review how to place one foot adjacent to the other in order to measure length. Making a transparency of the Sample Foot Measurement and cutting the feet apart would enable you to model how to iterate one unit to measure a distance greater than a one-foot cutout.

overhead  Sample Foot Measurement Overhead

414 foot414 foot414 foot414 foot414 foot 

Pair students and have them trace around each other’s foot. Ask them to make multiple cutouts of their foot to measure the distances from their workplace to the identified objects. Using a lightweight poster board makes the foot “measurers” more durable. Have each student measure and record the distance from their “work space or home base” to the objects you measured in yesterday’s lesson. (A management strategy could be to have pairs of students record for each other.)

pdficonGetting There with Our Feet Activity Sheet 

Distribute the Getting There with Our Feet Activity Sheet to students. They can draw pictures of the destination objects and write the number of “feet” required to reach them.

To help develop concepts of time, 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 with each other. Invite several students to volunteer to share their results. Discuss the differences in measures and how they happen.

This lesson gives opportunity for students to practice measurement skills. It is a time when you can monitor and document the number of students who are able to measure with the expected accuracy appropriate for the age and experience of your children. This information allows you to decide, using data, whether students are ready for the next lesson or need additional practice with the concepts in this lesson.

Assessment Options 

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


Move on to the next lesson, Learning to Measure With Ladybug.

Questions for Student 

1. When you placed one of your feet beside your partner’s foot, what did you notice?

[Answers will depend upon the size of the partner's foot, i.e. some will be the same size, others will be longer.]

2. When you measured the distance between your 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.]

3. How does the total number of steps between objects (using your own foot) compare with those using the teacher’s foot? Why does this happen?

[Using a student's foot as a measurement requires more "feet" because a student's foot is shorter than a teacher's.]

4. How does the total number of steps between objects compare with those of your partner? Are they alike or different? Why?

 [Answers will depend upon the length of the partner's foot.]

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? 
  • Were students able to work in pairs? 
  • 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 Teacher’s Feet

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.

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.

Helping Ladybug Hide with Arrows and Angles

In this lesson, students use an applet (technology tool) to hide a ladybug under a leaf. This requires experimentation, planning, and understanding of spatial relationships and visual memory.

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.