Math Background

Lesson: Comparing Lengths, Weights, and Capacities
Introducing the Concept

Ask two children to stand back to back and decide who is taller and who is shorter. Continue with other pairs of volunteers.

Materials: butcher paper for each child, crayons, tape, scissors, straws or a similar measuring unit

Preparation: Lay a piece of butcher paper on the floor, and ask a volunteer to lie down. Draw an outline of the child's body. You may wish to draw in facial features and clothing. Then ask pairs of children to do the same. Children can trace each other's outline. Then cut out the shapes. You may find it helpful to invite a parent volunteer to help children with the outlining and cutting.

Outline of a child

Prerequisite Skills and Concepts: Children should understand longer, taller, and shorter.

Hold up one of the cut-out shapes.

  • Ask: How could I use straws to find out tall (Joe) is?
    Children may say that you could place straws end to end from the top of the head to the heel and count how many straws were used.
  • Ask: How many straws did you use?
  • Say: Joe is blank straws tall. Will (Gina) be the same number of straws tall? How can we find out?
    Children may say that they could repeat the activity with (Gina's) cut-out shape. After you repeat the activity, compare the results and write the measurements.
  • Say: Let's make an estimate. About how many straws tall do you think (Kevin) is?
    Record children's estimates. Then repeat the measuring activity.
  • Ask: Whose estimates were the closest?
  • Say: Let's look at three children.
    Tape three outlines to the wall, aligning them at the bottom.
  • Ask: Who is tallest? Who is shortest?
    Continue with other groups of cutouts.

You may wish to extend the activity by having children use cubes to measure the length of their hands or legs on the cut-out shapes.


Houghton Mifflin Math Grade K