Easy Measurement Activity
Length measurement can frankly be a pretty boring concept we have to teach our math students. There’s only so many times you can measure things in the classroom before it gets old! Fortunately, I have a super simple yet engaging measurement activity to share with you today. Your students will love it!
Measurement Activity for 2nd Grade
I used this measurement activity for 2nd grade, though I think it would also work well in 1st or 3rd. This activity was actually built into our curriculum and kicked off our measurement unit. The activity had students make their own rulers. It gives them good practice with iteration (using “mark and move” with one item to measure) and also helps them take ownership of their own learning! There’s something magical about measuring with a ruler you created yourself.
How to Create a Ruler
For this activity, students only need 3 things:
- A strip of cardstock
- A centimeter cube or inch tile
- A pencil
Centimeter cubes and inch tiles can be bought at any teacher store or on Amazon (see the bottom of this post for links). For the cardstock, I took regular 8.5″ x 11″ cardstock sheets and cut them length wise into strips about 1.5″ wide. This put our rulers at 11″ long – if you want them longer, you will need to use legal size cardstock instead.
Step 1: Teach and Model
Step 1 of this measurement activity (after preparing the materials) is to teach your students how to use iteration properly. This is best done through modeling.
Using a large item such as a ruler or yardstick, practice measuring something large. As you measure, mark the point where the tool ends with your pencil or finger, and move the measuring tool down to where the mark is. Continue until you have found the total length. Allow students to practice if desired.
I also recommend modeling how to actually make the ruler with the cube or tile as well. If you have a document camera, show students how to hold the item in place while they mark the end, and carefully move it down to line up with the mark they just made.
Step 2: Guide
Once you have modeled and feel your students are ready for this activity, pass out the materials and allow them to get started creating. As they work, circulate the room, guiding your students. You want them to create rulers that are as accurate as possible so they can actually be used.
Here is a video of one of my students working on their ruler. Students should work with precision! Do not be afraid to stop them if they are going too fast or not being accurate enough.
Step 3: Final Touches
Last, have students outline their measurement tick marks with a marker or pen so they show up better. They should also add the numbers and measurement unit (cm or in). If desired, allow them to decorate the bottom or back of their rulers to personalize it a bit more.
After students had completed their rulers, I would laminate them for them for durability, though this is optional. Given how much students love these rulers and want to use them all the time, I highly recommend laminating if it’s feasible for you to do!
More Measurement Activities
This is a great way to introduce your students to measurement! If you’re interested in more engaging, low-prep measurement activities, check out these links below:
- Math in Motion Measurement
- Measurement Task Cards
- Measurement Math Vocabulary
- Full STEAM Ahead Measurement Review
- Measurement Math Writing Prompts
You can also check out this post from Rooster’s Teaching Resources for more ideas for teaching measurement.
Disclaimer: The links below are Amazon Affiliate links, meaning that I receive a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. This is at no extra cost to you.
Constructing your own tool is a great way to foster solid understanding and the detail needed in measurement. I appreciate another easy-to-implement and practical post from The Average Teacher! 🙂
In TK we have to introduce non standard measurement concepts. Having my students create their own rulers (writing the numbers they know) would be a fantastic way to incorporate these ideas!
I love anything that students can create themselves! That’s a great point about slowing them down if they are making it too quickly to focus on precision.