I thought that doing the unit on length would be the easiest one, using a ruler should be pretty easy, right? WRONG! When my kids had to measure something that was longer than the ruler or meter stick this is what they did:
Ummm, that’s not effective! Especially when you have to measure something longer, like a hallway:
They didn’t know what to do if they object they were measuring was longer than the measurement tool. This was one of those sub-lessons that I never intended on teaching!
But enough of that! Here are the pages we used for our length labs:
These are super basic, but they worked really well. I had the kids work in pairs or groups of three to do the measurements. It was a little bit chaotic as kids were all over the room and out in the hallway measuring everything in sight, but they learned a lot and I could see their little brains working as they tried to figure out how tall a stack of 1000 pennies would be…”Miss, we need 1000 pennies and there are only 16 here!”
Me: “You already know the height of 10 pennies, so how can you find the height of 1000 pennies?”
Watch their wheels turn :)
**Find all my measurement activities and resources here!
Since we are looking at measurement in relation to science and social studies, I also incorporated an activity dealing with temperatures around the world. Kids in the upper elementary grades are usually just starting to realize there is a world outside of themselves and they are very interested in learning about other places. When I researched websites for this activity I found the greatest resource: WunderMap. This map tool is so cool! It gives you current temperatures around the world. I used this Weblist to do both of these activities and I also have a video of how to use Wundermaps. Here are the two activities we did with it:
1. Temperatures Around the World.
I listed locations around the world and had the kids predict if they would be hotter or colder than the temperature here. They also had to list a reason for why they thought it would be hotter or colder. Some of their reasons were a little weak, such as “Hotter because China is hotter”, but even I had a hard time explaining my reasoning for my hypothesis!
2. What affects temperature.
The next temperature activity we did was an exploration of what affects world temperatures. For this activity I went over the key vocabulary: equator, coast, and elevation, then I let the kids explore the map again. They had a much more difficult time with this because I didn’t tell them the answer. Do you have this problem with your students? They always want you to tell them the right answer? We are working on “using our brains” to figure things out. It’s a tough lesson–to teach and learn! So anyway, this activity was more frustrating, and when I do it in the future I will preface it more clearly that this is a discovery, they might not discover the right answer, and that’s ok! The next day I went back to the maps and taught a lesson about the equator, coast and elevation. In the end they really “got it” and loved using Wundermaps.
Side note: When we talked about elevation I showed my kids pictures from when I hiked a mountain with my family this summer. I showed them how we had on short sleeves at the bottom, and by the time we got to the top there was snow! They loved this personal connection and if they forget what elevation is, I just say, “Remember when I hiked the mountain…”
ALSO, in our Storyworks magazine this week there was a story about Jordan Romero, the youngest person to climb Mt. Everest and they made the connection to elevation again…so many connections! My kids LOVED this story and there are lots of inspirational videos on YouTube about this amazing kid!
Temperature is a pretty basic form of measurement, we hear about it on a daily basis on the news and weather is a pretty normal subject of conversation. So you would think that kids would have no trouble “getting it”. But there are tricky parts of measuring temperature. For example reading what I’ll call a “red line” thermometer (because I can’t find out what it is actually called) can be really tricky for 4th graders! Also, increasing and decreasing temperatures especially when you are dealing with negative temperatures is very confusing!
When I was at The Dollar Tree a few weeks ago they had garden thermometers, so I bought one to put outside our building. Now the kids read the thermometer every time they come in the door. “Miss, it’s ___ degrees outside!” is blurted multiple times per day…but they have become very proficient at reading that pesky red line!
So one of the first pages in our Measurement Packet is our Temperature Log:
We also have been graphing the AM and PM temperatures and seeing the differences:
So that is our introduction to temperature! Up next? Temperatures Around the World!
**Click here to see all my measurement activities
So this begins a series of posts about MEASUREMENT….begin!
We remember the types of measurement with this simple mnemonic device: TLVCDT…yeah, NO! There is no simple way to learn and remember the types of measurement: Temperature, length, volume, capacity, density and time–oh, my!
According to our state testing, measurement is one of the lowest scoring objectives. Why is it that kids have such a difficult time understanding measurement? Maybe it’s because we have to teach them TWO different systems, why can’t we just pick customary or metric?! But no, somehow we have to get them to understand that inches and centimeters, grams and ounces. It is like comparing apples and oranges–both fruit, but totally different. (No, no, you can’t report length as 6 inches and 1 centimeter!) And don’t even get me started on capacity!
In light of that, I decided to create a science unit dedicated to measurement. That way I give them a double dose: converting measurement in math, and hands-on measurement in science– bam, they won’t even know what hit ‘em! So here we go! Over the next several days I’ll post about my Measurement Packet and all the measurement activities, stay tuned!