Get your rulers ready! Are you looking for some engaging ways for teaching measurement activities to 2nd graders? This unit can be so chaotic but so fun when managed well.
Daily Warm Up
I like my warm ups to be a quiet way for us to start math. Typically, I will display 4 problems on the board where students will practice looking at height or width of a fixed object against a pre-printed ruler. This alleviates the need to make many copies while teaching measurement, while also ensuring students arrive at the same answers. This also makes great test prep, as typically rulers on standardized testing are fixed objects.
I start easy, having the object start at 0. Then, as students get better, I will move the object from starting at 0 to starting at the 2, and ending at the 6, so that students need to either understand how inches really work or subtract to find the answer.
At the end of the unit, I will move from measuring one object to measuring two. Then, students need to write a sentence to determine how much longer one object is than another.
I give students 5-10 minutes to do the warm up in a math notebook, then we go over it on the carpet for about 5-10 minutes. Then, I lead right into the mini lesson for the day. The fourth warm up problem is always a segue into the lesson for the day.
Week One – Parts of a ruler, measuring with different objects, estimating
Week Two – How much longer one object is than another, line plots
The biggest challenge in measurement is teaching comparison problems. Students struggle to understand that they are looking for how much bigger or smaller an object is, and tend to either add or just pick the biggest object.
The other slight challenges is that not all rulers look alike. Some start exactly at 0, some leave a little space and some leave a lot of space. It is important to teach students to line their object up with the 0 when measuring.
Finally, you might have some students who want to start the ruler at the 1 or will confuse inches and centimeters. This is an easy fix with repetition and reminders.
Center Ideas & Games
Measurement allows for tons of fun hands on centers and games if you are up for it. Kids love to use unifix cubes and links to measure objects during centers.
I also like laminating some of the worksheets for students to use again and again so they can practice measuring things with different objects. For example, if students have already measured their desk using paper clips, allow them to try with pencils or blocks.
I try to keep anchor charts to a minimum so that students don’t rely on them too much. At the beginning, we keep up an anchor chart comparing height and length so they know the difference. In the middle of the unit, I will have one showing the parts of the ruler. By the end, I remove both anchor charts to ensure students will remember these important facts on their own.
One of the best parts about teaching measurement is all of the manipulatives you get to use! My favorites are:
• Unifix cubes
• Yard sticks
• Measuring tape
• Tape measurers
• Classroom objects such as paper clips, clothes pins, pencils, crayons, etc.
Resources & Freebies
What questions do you have about teaching measurement activities to 2nd graders? Drop them in the comments below!
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