Out Teach
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
Upper Primary
  • Math
  • Measurements and Data
  • Metric
  • Out Teach
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    Education Standards

    Measure Two Ways -- Out Teach

    Measure Two Ways -- Out Teach


    This lesson will require students to practice measuring real-world objects in different units and evaluate the most effective units to use for solving problems.

    Background for Teachers:

    Out Teach logo

    Students can use a variety of instruments for measurement and measure a variety of objects in the garden. The ideal instrument for this task is a measuring tape because it versatile, and it is also ideal for students to measure basic shapes like rectangles as opposed to shapes with curved edges. Give students plenty of time to practice measuring and time to discuss which measurements they would use to solve particular problems.

    Key Vocabulary:

    • Dimensions

    • Units of measurement

    • Metric, imperial units

    Guiding Question:

    How can we switch between units of measurement within the same system?


    Show the students the measurement tools they will be using.

    Say: You will be working in teams today using these measurement tools to measure different areas in our garden.

    If possible, tap into their prior knowledge about measurement.

    For example: Students may have learned guidelines for measuring technique like starting at "zero" or holding your place while you move the measuring tool if you need to measure longer distances. Students may have learned the difference between metric and non-metric units

    Explain to students the importance of measuring for the design of the outdoor classroom.

    Say: In order to construct this area for us to learn in, someone had to carefully measure the space and take lots of other measurements to make sure that all of the pieces of the classroom would fit properly.


    Have students create a table in their journals so that they can measure the same dimensions twice with different units.

    • Sample:

    Vegetable bed length - 48 inches - 4 feet

    Sidewalk square side - 24 inches - 2/3 yard

    Allow students to work in teams to measure the dimensions of a specific area of the garden: vegetable beds, sidewalks, etc.

    Management Note: Be ready to model appropriate use of measuring tape and have consequences for inappropriate uses.

    Differentiation Note: students who finish early can calculate perimeter, area, or convert between systems of measurement. Students that are struggling can use visual aids like tape to show where each foot is along the inches line.

    As students explore, ensure they are writing their information in the table.


    • Did you measure all of the dimensions?

    • How could you convert that do a different unit?

    • What's the best way to measure something that is longer than the measuring tape?

    • Which unit would be easier to use to measure this?


    Gather students to a meeting area by calling them with a recognized signal.

    Ask students from each team to share the data they collected by reading it from the graph. As they share, copy their data into a table on your whiteboard or chart paper.

    Note: If students fail to adequately describe the area that they measured, explain the importance of keeping clear data.

    Example: If a student lists "sidewalk" you may ask them if they measured the entire sidewalk or just a small portion of it. Ask how they could be clearer when recording that piece of data.

    Discuss student answers from the guiding questions during the exploration and encourage students to discover any misunderstandings through discussion.

    Ask: What challenges did you notice that made measuring difficult?

    Discuss the different options for measurement units and attempt to organically construct ways of remembering conversions or rely on prior methods taught.

    Ensure that students understand the importance of using consistent measurements in the "real world."

    Example: Ask students what they think the consequences would be if the person designing the outdoor classroom started with the wrong measurements for the space.

    Optional: This lesson could include a broader discussion about metric and non-metric measurements although that may be lengthy and require a separate lesson. However, it would be helpful to tie any future lessons back to the "real-world" task that students perform in this lesson.


    Have students work on a new table (independent or groups) to identify outdoor objects, designate the appropriate unit of measurement, and approximate the measurement.

    • Sample:

    School wall height - feet - 12 feet

    Length of squash - centimeters - 10 centimeters

    Differentiation: Use this time to work closely with struggling students to increase measurement fluency and concept understanding. Students who finish early can practice calculating the area of rectangular spaces in different units of measurement.


    Exit tickets:

    If the length of the sidewalk is 72 inches, how many feet would it be?

    How many centimeters are in one meter?

    Name one thing in your kitchen you might measure in centimeters.

    Extensions and Connections

    This lesson can be connected to other lessons that require students to use calculations from measurements: are and perimeter lessons.

    Art may be incorporated into measurement in the outdoor classroom through lessons that dive into landscape design.