Pin it!
Google Plus

Learning to Measure with Ladybug

Carol Midgett
Location: unknown

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.

pdficonLadybugs Resource Sheet 

Make a transparency of the ladybugs found on the Ladybugs Resource Sheet. Cut the ladybugs apart and then demonstrate on the overhead how to use ladybugs as a tool for measuring. Use multiple ladybugs to measure the length and width across the overhead, showing that many copies are needed to cross the top, both to determine length and width.

419 ladybug419 ladybug419 ladybug419 ladybug419 ladybug419 ladybug419 ladybug 

When students demonstrate an understanding of the concept of using multiple copies of a unit to measure something longer than the unit, use only one ladybug and place it in positions to measure across the top of the overhead. This models iteration of the same unit to measure the distance that previously required many ladybugs. In the example below, the ladybug is the unit of measure, and the lines indicate the number of times it is repeated to cover the width.

419 ladybug419 hatch

Distribute the Ladybugs Resource Sheet to students. While students remain in their seats, have them cut the Ladybug Measurers and tape them together to make a “ladybug ruler.” Then have students measure the distance across their work space and create a ladybug ruler as long and/or as wide as their work space. Some students may be ready to practice using only one ladybug to measure the distance.

Closely monitor the students during this activity to see which ones are ready to move from using multiple copies of the unit to using one copy. It is appropriate for most students to use a “connected” tape for measuring. However, be alert for students who use their finger to mark where the next unit should be placed. This indicates that they are ready to use a single unit for measuring. This is an early strategy students use for iteration.

Have students draw a picture of the number of ladybugs required to cross their workspace, and then record the number needed. Keep the recordings to discuss with students, to share with parents, to use on a bulletin board, or for future reference for instructional planning. This recording will help students prepare for the next lesson.

419 ladybug 419 ladybug 419 ladybug 419 ladybug 419 ladybug 419 ladybug 419 ladybug 

Documenting student’s application of measurement concepts will allow you to make appropriate decisions about the next lesson(s) and grouping strategies.

A related lesson, Ladybug Lengths, is found in the unit Magnificent Measurement. In this lesson, students experience how ladybugs measure by reading the book Ladybug on the Move by Richard Fowler.


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


Move on to the next lesson, Helping Ladybug Hide With Arrows and Angles.

Questions for Students 

  1. Show me how you can measure across the width of your work space using several ladybugs. How could you measure the same distance using only one ladybug?
  2. What strategy did you use to know where to place the ladybug in the next space you needed to measure? (The purpose of this question is for you to understand which students understand that the feet must be placed end-to-end in order to have a more accurate measurement.)
  3. What was the difference between measuring the width and the length of your work space?
  4. What other objects could you use to measure the width and length of your work space?

Teacher Reflection 

  • Was the modeling on the overhead an effective strategy for helping students understand how to measure with multiple units? To measure with a single unit? What would improve this modeling experience?
  • Which students demonstrated some understanding of the meaning of measurement? Which did not?
  • What learning opportunities will you provide for students who need many more experiences? What enrichment activities will extend the knowledge and skill of those students who demonstrate a level of understanding appropriate for students of this age?
  • How will I use the assessment data collected during this lesson to plan for instruction and report progress to students and parents?
  • What adjustments will I make in this lesson the next time you teach it?

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.

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.

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 relative positions in space and apply ideas about relative position.
  • Relate ideas in geometry to ideas in number and measurement.
  • Recognize the attributes of length, volume, weight, area, and time.
  • Understand how to measure using nonstandard and standard units.
  • Use repetition of a single unit to measure something larger than the unit, for instance, measuring the length of a room with a single meterstick.

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.

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.1
    Measure the length of an object by selecting and using appropriate tools such as rulers, yardsticks, meter sticks, and measuring tapes.

Grade 2, Measurement & Data

  • CCSS.Math.Content.2.MD.D.9
    Generate measurement data by measuring lengths of several objects to the nearest whole unit, or by making repeated measurements of the same object. Show the measurements by making a line plot, where the horizontal scale is marked off in whole-number units.