Teaching Units of Non-Standard Measurement

I may not have 20 years of experience in first grade [yet], but in my year and a half, I have found a few things to be true:

1.  First graders love construction paper.

2.  First graders love to trace.

3.  First graders love manipulatives.

Knowing these three things, I put together a super-simple and engaging lesson to introduce my students to the concept of measuring things using non-standard units.

First, I showed them a quick video by Teaching Without Frills to introduce this concept:

[Side Note: Check out that link above – it is a great YouTube channel with a ton of quick videos!]

Once we finished chatting about this video, I introduced them to our activity!  For this activity, you will need:

[Construction paper, centimeter cubes, unifix cubes, or other non-standard measurement units]

Your students will also need access to pencils and scissors.

First, my students traced one of their feet on the construction paper.  Some of them needed to buddy up because they had trouble, but they all made it work!

Then, they cut out their “feet.” 🙂

Then, they used what they learned in the  video to measure their foot in either base ten cubes or unifix cubes.

Looking for ways to extend this simple activity?

  • Have your students take the construction paper foot home, and find other units to measure it with.
  • Have students measure the foot with both types of cubes and then compare.
  • Have your students line their feet up from shortest to longest.
  • Show your students how to use “shorter, shortest, longer, longest” vocab to compare the lengths of their feet.

This lesson took about 3 minutes to prep, yet they had so much fun and were truly engaged – aren’t those the BEST type of lessons?!

I’d love to hear about the ways you teach your firsties this concept – what else would you do to extend this activity?

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