Out Teach
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
Lower Primary
  • Customary
  • Math
  • Measurements and Data
  • Metric
  • Standard Units
  • License:
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike
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    Education Standards

    Standard Units and Length -- Out Teach

    Standard Units and Length -- Out Teach


    Students will identify which unit of measure inch, foot or yard) is best for measuring various items in the outdoor garden. They will then apply the use of the appropriate tool to measure a variety of objects to the nearest marker.

    Background for Teachers

    Out Teach logo

    The main point of this lesson is to help students develop fluency with measurement, including consistency in using measuring tools. The added benefits for doing this lesson outside includes vocabulary and conceptual development for plant parts and other features in the outdoor learning lab. Incorporating these things also helps to deepen engagement as it gives a broader purpose for measuring beyond just learning to measure. Be sure to include these elements into your lesson to fully capitalize on the experience.

    Key Vocabulary

    • Estimation

    • Unit

    • Whole numbers

    • Length

    • Inch

    • Foot

    • Yard

    Guiding Question

    What is the best unit of measure to use in our outdoor classroom?

    Before the Lesson/Set-Up:

    •Collect various measuring devices

    •Prepare a piece of chart paper or white board with a chart with the columns: Inches, Foot (12 inches = 1 Foot), Yards (3 feet = 1 yard).


    In the outdoor meeting space, if a gathering place has not been established, choose a location where students can sit in a circle. If additional structure is needed, use a tarp or sheet that can act as an "outdoor rug" meeting space.

    Ask: I need to know how tall this tree is so I know how tall a ladder to use to get to the top. What should I use to figure this out? Record on the chart paper.

    Ask: I need to know how big my garden beds. What should I use to figure this out? Record on the chart paper.

    Ask: Something is eating holes in our vegetables! In order to figure out the insect or animal, I need to know the size of the holes? What would I use to measure? Record on the chart paper.

    Explain that for each of these instances, we would use a different unit of measure.

    Explain that the students will have the chance to measure items in the outdoor classroom. Encourage them to try different tools.

    Differentiation Note: Some students may say that inches should be used for the tree or feet for the holes. This is true, but explain that if other options are available, which would allow you to find the information the fastest.

    Management Note: Ensure students understand the boundaries of the area they are exploring, review expectations and make sure they listen for the signal to return to the gathering space.



    Before passing out the measuring devices, set appropriate expectations for using the tool. Model how it should be used.

    Give each student a ruler. If yard sticks are available, give each student a yardstick.

    Explain that students will be using these to measure items in the garden. Note that they should sketch and label their drawing, and include what they used to measure with.


    Bring the students back to a central location. 

    Have students share with a shoulder partner what objects they measured in their journals.  

    Ask students what unit of measurement was used to measure the length of the objects discovered. 

    Model and talk through how to use the measuring device chosen (tapes, rulers, or yardsticks), how to read it and the unit of measurement. 

    Explain the focus of the outdoor experience is on practicing measuring using standard units.  


    On the whiteboard draw a 3 -column chart and label the columns inches, feet and yard. Have the students create the same chart in their journals, and review the conversions if needed.

    Have students place the objects they measured into the unit of measure that would be best suited to measure it.

    Have students take turns coming and adding their objects to the class chart.

    • Inch

    • Foot (12in = 1ft.)

    • Yard (3ft. = 1 yd.)

    • Insect

    • Garden bed

    • Tree

    Ask: What patterns do you see about what types of things are measured with an inch/foot/yard?


    In their journals, students construct a response to the following questions: 

    Why is it important that we have and use standard measurement tools?

    What kinds of problems could we have if everyone used a different measurement tool for measuring a vegetable bed? 

    Discuss as a whole group.

    Extensions and Connections

    Students make a class measurement book explaining and illustrating what units they used to measure the different items.

    Students convert between forms of measure.

    Students convert to metric units.