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The BEST Way to Teach Measurement

Teaching non-standard measurement to first graders can seem like a daunting task. It's not something that they usually get excited about right off the bat. However, they need to develop an understanding and become very comfortable with measurement so that they can eventually apply these skills to more complex analysis. I'm going to share the BEST way to teach measurement with you today.
These are the absolute BEST ways I have found to teach measurement and data to my students in fun and engaging ways they love.

First Grade Measurement & Data Standards

If you take a minute and think about it, we use measurement every day in our lives. We are constantly looking at the clock, cooking recipes, building things, and so much more. So, it's important to spend some time on this domain and make sure our kiddos really grasp the concept. This domain contains 4 standards that must be covered in first grade. 

1. Measure lengths indirectly and by iterating length units: 

Order three objects by length; compare the lengths of two objects indirectly by using a third object.  This is what we are going to focus on in this post.



2. Tell and Write Time: 

Tell and write time in hours and half-hours using analog and digital clocks.  You can find out all about how I teach time to my students in this post.

Your students will love these fun activities aligned to the first grade math standards focusing on telling time.

3. Represent and Interpret Data: 

Organize, represent, and interpret data with up to three categories.  Keep watching because in just a few weeks I'll be sharing all my secrets on how I teach this skill.

The BEST Way to Teach the Standards

Figuring out how to weave the standards into your daily lessons can sometimes be tricky. There's SO much information to cover, your students need to stay engaged the entire time, you need to find a way to piece everything together so it makes sense, the list goes on and on. I get it. I've been there. After a lot of trial and error, I landed on a system that works for me. It allows me to do all of the things in a short amount of time. Read more about how I set up my entire math block.

Measuring and Comparing Length

The first measurement topic I teach is length.  It is one that students can readily identify with which helps with engagement.  Using student heights or measuring items around the classroom is a great way for them to see how useful measuring length can be in their everyday life.  

Focus on Vocabulary

One of my main goals as we start working on length is vocabulary.  Many, maybe even most of the students, tend to identify length with the words bigger and smaller.  But allowing them to continue using these words is just setting them up for failure in the future.  We work to change that language into longer, shorter, taller, longest, shortest, and tallest.  

A great way to do that is through math talks.  As you show two or three pictures to the class ask them what they notice.  Someone WILL say something along the lines of "the monkey is the biggest", or "the bird is small."  When this happens, do a little happy dance inside, because you have the perfect set-up for a vocabulary lesson.  Then just say one word:  WHY?

Help students talk through the why until you land on the words taller, shorter, longer, etc.  The ultimate goal is for students to understand that the monkey is bigger because it is taller.  The more opportunities you give students to talk the math, the faster they will pick up the new vocabulary.

When doing math talks, let the students do most of the talking.  In fact, you might just find yourself saying "why" multiple times - and that is alright!

Hands-on Measurement Practice

Then we set off to measure anything and everything!  During our measurement time, we will work on measuring and then comparing length.  Students need to have lots of hands-on practice with measuring.  One of the easiest ways to do this is by grabbing some math cubes and a variety of random objects and putting them into a center.  No special tools needed!

As students start to learn about measurement it is important to teach them how to measure correctly.  Making sure that students know how to line up the object with the measurement tool (blocks, paperclips, ruler, etc.) the right way is so important.  Learning to do it correctly now, will save lots of hardship later.

Here are just some of the question prompts that are important to use when working on these skills.
  • Which is taller/shorter?
  • Which is longer/shorter?
  • Which is the tallest/shortest?
  • Which is the longest/shortest?
  • How tall?
  • How Long?
  • Write about the picture: Compare two items using short and tall.
  • Write about the picture: Compare two items using short and long.

More Practice Opportunities

The Mega Math Practice Comparing Length unit has everything we need for lots and lots of practice on this important skill.  Through these practice pages, students will work on understanding vocabulary, measuring and comparing measurement.  

The variety of practice activities gives you everything you need to move from introductory level measurement and thinking to more advanced analysis, all while reaching those first grade standards.  I really love that it incorporates writing in math too!

More Mega Math Practice

I also have Mega Math Practice activities to cover the entire measurement and data domain. This Measurement and Data Mega Math Practice Bundle is just what you need to teach the unit effectively while keeping your students engaged throughout the process. It includes 6 different resources to help you teach these important skills:
  • Comparing and Ordering Length
  • Measuring Length
  • Telling time Worksheets (2)
  • Number of the Day
  • Counting Money

This Mega Math Practice is perfect for first grade math focusing on measurement and data in fun and exciting ways your students will love.

This unit is sure to get your students ready for what is to come. Problem-solving and critical thinking skills are what our kids need to navigate the future. I hope you try this method out in your classroom. I really believe it is the BEST way to teach measurement and data.

And . . . if you love having everything you need at your finger tips you can find the Mega Math Practice Bundle that includes every first grade CCSS math standard in all four strands:

  • Numbers and Base Ten
  • Operations and Algebraic Thinking
  • Geometry
  • Measurement and Data

It is jam-packed with over 430 pages of digital and print practice activities for your students.  There's more than enough for students to have guided practice and independent practice for ALL YEAR LONG! In fact, they work great for morning work, homework and intervention too.

With over 430 pages of Mega Math practice, this bundle is the perfect addition to your first grade math lessons for the entire year!

Pin It!

Be sure to save this pin to your favorite math board for later. You'll be all set and ready to go to teach measurement and data in your classroom.

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