Literature Connection:

How Tall, How Short, How Faraway by David A. Adler

Mathematical Strand:



Students will be able to list in journal what "measurement" is. As a group, will measure with standard and non-standard units and record data on class chart. Students will be able to construct a meter tape.

Grade level:

4th - 6th grade

Lesson Created by:

Joy Heinrichs Theodore Roosevelt Elementary, Manhattan, KS

Lesson Description


  • Book How Tall, How Short, How Faraway by David A. Adler,
  • For groups of 4: chart paper, markers, a pre-measured straw given by teacher (not all straws are exactly the same length), roll of transparent tape, meter tape.
  • For each student: pair of scissors, meter tape worksheet from FOSS measurement kit. Optional art extension: 1 meter of yarn, 1 piece of construction paper, glue.

1. Launching the lesson

  1. In your math journals, I want you to write down everything you can think of that has to do with measurement. After 2 minutes, talk with your group.
  2. Each group needs to make a group chart representing their ideas on measurement. Decide as a group how to display the information.

2. Exploring the lesson

  1. Have one member of the group display the chart and tell 3 measurement ideas and how they represented them.
  2. Now we're going to do some measurement of our own. Our tool is going to be a straw.
  3. Decide as a class 3 or 4 items to measure in the classroom. One group member should record the data. That person will transfer data to chart on chalkboard.
  4. What do you notice about the data? What could be the problem? Why isn't all the data the same? Oh, maybe the straws aren't the same size? What do we need to all measure the same length every time? Yes, a standard unit of measure!
  5. The standard unit of measure we will use to measure length is a meter.
  6. Give groups a meter tape. What do you notice about the meter tape? Is there anything on your hand that is about a centimeter?
  7. Go back and re-measure the items you measured earlier. One person record on board. How is the data different from the data we recorded when we used straws?
  8. So that you can measure at home, I would like you to make your own meter tape. Construct tape.

3. Summarize/Discussion/Elaboration

  1. Read the book.
  2. What did you notice in the book that was similar to what we just did in class? What were the non-standard units of measurement that were mentioned in the book? What were the standard units of measure used on the book? Do you think you have something at home that is about a meter long or tall? Try to find 3 objects at home that are a meter, write them down, and bring your list to school tomorrow.

Optional activities:

  • Measure one meter of yarn or string. Lay string on construction paper, move it around to create a design - use the whole length in the picture, no cutting. Glue the string down in that shape. Display!
  • Variation: Have students draw a continuous design with a crayon. They can check to see if it is a meter by tracing with their string.
  • Book extensions: Measure items at school or home in Egyptian and Roman units.
  • Make your own "ruler" with equal units and measure items around school or home.

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Copyright 2001 S.Ma.R.T.Books and Kansas State University