Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Measurement - oh my!

As in...
Oh my, I had no idea my class knew so little about measurement!
Oh my, how can they NOT know how many millimeters in a centimeter when this is about the 6th time this term we've gone over this!!!
Oh my, tell me a child did NOT just tell me that her ruler doesn't have centimeters on it when I've just individually made sure that every child knows what a centimeter is!

There's no point in beating around the bush - this was a frustrating day!

I had 3 children missing for a music workshop and 2 out with lice (again! Yet another epidemic of head lice! Oh, for some freezing cold weather that would kill the little creatures!!)


I decided that, rather than start a new topic with 1/3 of the class missing, I would review measurement - centimeters and millimeters. Some fun activities were called for!

Now, maybe in a week's time, when I look back on them I'll actually think that they were fun. Right now... well, right now I'm thinking good old-fashioned worksheets are the way to go!! :)

Activity 1:

I planned a Mad Measurement Hallway Hunt and sent them off one group at a time (with a timer to make sure they came back in time!!) to find the cards that were scattered around the school and measure different things - like cubbies, bulletin boards, doors, their fingernails...
Two groups came back on time; one group got "lost". They were also reported to me by another teacher for inappropriate behaviour  :(

Activity 2:

Measurement Mansion - each group had to follow directions and measure different things on the mansion.

Groups 1 and 2 - no problems. Group 3 had a shouting match... sigh.

Activity 3:

 We measured and drew equilateral, isosceles and scalene triangles with specific dimensions. I mention "specific" dimensions because one member of Group 3 decided to shorten the base of her scalene triangle because "I can't get the other two sides to fit if I don't." Heaven forbid that she should MOVE HER RULER like I suggested, let alone persevere or THINK!! (and I don't want to hear that she was thinking outside the box - triangle, rather :) - or being creative because she wasn't!)

Thank goodness for students who think :)

Between recess and lunch we painted a giant fish bowl

(Edit: A comment from a friend made me realize I hadn't given proper credit (not intentional, I assure you!) so I went back and checked through my pinterest boards to find where this idea came from!, folks. :) I adapted it for my particular needs.)

Slightly cut off because I practically fell out of the
window on the third floor while balanced on the cubbies
 trying to get far enough back to take the photo!

While the fish bowl was drying I gave each child specific measurements to draw a box. We had quite a lot of discussion over this because some people had measurements in centimeters and some had measurements in millimeters and some had measurements in both - so a mini lesson was required just to draw the boxes.

After the boxes were drawn they had to draw a fish inside the box so that the sides of the fish exactly touched the sides of the box.

Easy, right?

Not so! Half of the 11 children drew a little tiny fish in the middle of the box, thereby completing negating my entire project (which was to measure the fish in the bowl and match the measurements posted on the bulletin board with the number on the fish)

Huge sigh - after yet another explanation we erased and re-drew and then painted.

Of course the fish are gorgeous, as is the bowl and no-one will know how torturous the whole project really was.

Once we've had a little more practice with our rulers (like, every day this week!!!) we're going to play a Trilogy Matching game that Meg from Fourth Grade Studio made (find it here - plus some other variations). Hopefully my kiddies will have a better grasp of metric measurement by the time the term ends!

Are there any particular concepts that your students are finding difficult to grasp?

And... please tell me that I'm not the only one out there who has days like this!!


  1. You are definitely not the only one with days like this!! And WE ALL have a group 3! LOL Your fishbowl is adorable! Take a deep breath and relax tonight. :)
    ideas by jivey

  2. Thanks :) I had a bag of celery, a ton of hummus, a hot shower and feel a lot better. Too bad there were no potato chips in the house - I'd have liked that better (but maybe it's a good thing there weren't any!) :)

  3. First of all--the fish are GORGEOUS and can I please please please steal the idea? Second of all--we have ALL had days/weeks/decades like that! I continue to be inspired by you and your creativity...and the beauty of blogging is that we know we can reach far wider than the scope of our own classroom. In fact, I think your scope just reached a few thousand miles across and a few miles deep! (Note the LACK of metric measurement there!) That takes a BIG box and would make a really big fish...Thanks, Lynn!

  4. You're my "go to " person, Meg :) Thanks for the kind words! And please, use the idea - I saw a picture of a fishbowl on pinterest (I think it was done by an elementary school for an art exhibit ) and just adapted it for a measurement activity :) We have a round table in our room that is the exact size and shape of a giant fishbowl so it was really easy to draw. Measuring the fish made the kiddies think before they drew - and gave us some interesting shapes as well :)

  5. I love your blog.... I found you on Teaching Blog Traffic School and followed you here and on Facebook. It's nice to find another upper elementary blog!!

    My Journey to 5th Grade

  6. Nice to meet you :) I found you a little while ago too - and may I return the compliment. Love your blog too :)

  7. Torturous, but really beautiful. Thanks for sharing how it went for you. The colors turned out stunning.