Math Investigations

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Chapter 11

Part 1: Home and School Investigation

Send the Letter to Family (PDF file) home with each child.

Tell the children that they are going to bring in two objects from home and compare their lengths. Show them an example, such as two pencils of different lengths. Ask them which pencil is longer than the other pencil, to make sure they understand what you mean by different lengths. Send the Letter to Family home with each child.

Have the children show their objects and describe them using the words shorter and longer. You might want to do this over a period of days with a few children at a time rather than all at once.

Part 2: Be an Investigator

A good time to do this investigation is after Lesson 4 on estimating and measuring length.


  • blank paper
  • crayons
  • scissors

Introducing the Investigation

Ask, Who do you think has the longest hand in this class? How could we find out?

Doing the Investigation

Say, While we are working on this chapter, we are also going to work on finding out who has the longest hand. To do that, we will make cutouts of each of your hands.

Ask three children to come to the front of the class and hold their hands out for everyone to see. Ask, Whose hand do you think is the longest?

Tell the children that they are going to find out in a way that leaves a record of what they find. As the other children watch, trace the right hand of each of the three children on a piece of paper. Cut these out, and write each child's name on his or her tracing. (When tracing, have the children hold their fingers together, as this will make it easier to compare the lengths of the hands. Be sure to trace and cut out the hands in the same way. A good place to cut is where the bend in the wrist is.) Ask, How could we use these cutouts to find out whose hand is longer? (Put them on top of each other.) When comparing two cutout hands, be sure to align them at the base and compare the tip of the middle, longest finger on each.

Arrange the cutout hands in order, from shortest to longest. An easy way to do this is to punch a hole at the top of each cutout and then cut a slit in the hole. Hang the hands on a string and display them in the room. The hole with the slit in it will make it easy to put new hands on the string in the correct order.

Say, Tomorrow we will look at some more hands and put them on our string of hands.

Continue this investigation until you have a cutout hand for each child and have ordered the hands from the shortest hand to the longest hand.

Extending the Investigation

  • Have each child measure the length of his or her hand with a nonstandard unit like a paper clip.
  • Have each child find someone whose hand is the same length as his or her own.

Houghton Mifflin Math Grade K