Math activities for a measurement unit

Our 3rd grade students will be doing a unit on measurement soon. These are the specific standards for the measurement unit that we hope to address. I’ve been asked to brainstorm some activities for students in this unit which can be extended or modified to meet the needs of a wide range of learners.
BC Precribed learning outcomes in 3rd grade related to measurement
  • relate the passage of time to common activities using non-standard and standard units (minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years)
  • relate the number of seconds to a minute, the number of minutes to an hour, and the number of days to a month in a problem-solving context
  • demonstrate an understanding of measuring length (cm, m) by- selecting and justifying referents for the units cm and m- modelling and describing the relationship between the units cm and m- estimating length using referents- measuring and recording length, width, and height
  • demonstrate an understanding of measuring mass (g, kg) by- selecting and justifying referents for the units g and kg- modelling and describing the relationship between the units g and kg- estimating mass using referents- measuring and recording mass

Here’s what I have so far:

  1. How long is a minute?

    Have students work in pairs. One student has a timer, the other student has nothing. The person with the timer says "go" and starts the timer. The other student waits (without counting or saying anything) and tries to say stop when they think a minute has gone by. Then students switch roles. Play this game once at the beginning of class, and once near the end of class (ideally just before a break), and have some of the students gather the data from the entire class and compare the numbers from the beginning of class to the times just before the break.

  2. What day of the week will your birthday be next year?

    Have students work together to try and figure out what day of the week their birthday will be on next year. Challenge activity: What day of the week will your irthday be on in 20 years? In 80 years? Students will choose to adopt different strategies, but you should not let them look it up on a calendar (but they are free to make their own calendar to make it easier to calculate).

  3. How many times will my heart beat in an hour?

    Have students measure how many times their heart beats in either 10, 15, 20, 30, or 60 seconds (or all of the above) with a partner, and then try and calculate how many times it will beat in an hour. Some students will realize that this is a multiplication problem, others will start creating lists of numbers to add together. Extension: How many times will your heart beat in a year.

  4. How long is a foot?

    Have students measure different things in the room with their feet as the unit of measure (to the nearest half a foot if possible – support tip: ask students, is it nearer to 2 feet or 3 feet?). Have them compare their answers to the same things they’ve measured. Talk about the need for a standard unit of measurement, which is exactly the purpose of centimetres, metres, etc…

  5. How heavy are things?

    Activity: Using a balance scale (which we have in the science lab in the senior school) have students measure a bunch of different things around the classroom (like pens, etc…) and compare the weights of the different things together. Now, ask the question: how many pens weight are these things? Now you can have students try and determine, using the weight of a pen as a reference, how heavy various objects are in the room.


One Comment

  • Mr. Wees,

    I really enjoyed this post. I think the students will really enjoy the activities that you have planned. I know I would have. I would have to say my favorite one is the first one about guessing the when it has been a minute. I do this when I am on the treadmill and I want my hour to be over with. I think that it is great that you have your student interactively learning. Kids really enjoy this. And I think that children really learn more this way instead of copying notes from the board and doing book problems. I will also have to keep this post as a tool for my future classroom. Thanks and have a great week!


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