May 22, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Inquiry and Integration Across the Curriculum: Measurement

Math bannerHave you used a tape measure or a ruler lately? Checked your watch? Weighed yourself? Figured out what coins to give a cashier? If you have, then you know how important measurement is in your daily life. It’s important for young children, too.

The Common Core State Standards in Mathematics (CCSSM) indicate that the standard units of measure is a critical focus area for grade two; students should be able to use measurement tools and interpret the data they collect.

In this month’s column, we look at how children’s literature can support youngsters as they learn about these concepts and tools. By integrating mathematics and the language arts (reading, writing, speaking, listening, and drawing), educators promote learning in both disciplines.

Inquiry and Integration
Topic/Essential Question:
How can we use standard units of measurement to collect and interpret data?
Grade Span: Grade 2
Disciplinary Core Idea: Measurement and Data

Performance Standards:
Common Core State Standards for Mathematics

2.MD: Measurement and Data

  • CCSS.Math.2.MD.A.1-4 Measure and estimate lengths in standard units.
  • CCSS.Math.2.MD.B.5-6 Relate addition and subtraction to length.
  • CCSS.Math.2.MD.C.7-8 Work with time and money.
  • CCSS.Math.2.MD.D.9-10 Represent and interpret data.

Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.2.4 Recount an experience with the appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking audibly in coherent sentences.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.2.1. Write opinion pieces in which they introduce the topic they are writing about, state an opinion, supply reasons that support the opinion, and supply a concluding statement.

Children’s Literature

Adler, D. A. (1999). How Tall, How Short, How Faraway. Ill. by N. Tobin. New York, NY: Holiday House.
Axelrod, A. (1994). Pigs Will Be Pigs. Ill. by S. McGinley-Nally. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.
Cleary, B. P. (2007). How Long or How Wide?: A Measuring Guide. Ill. by B. Gable. Minneapolis, MN:   Millbrook.
Cleary, B. P. (2008). On a Scale, a Weighty Tale. Ill. by B. Gable. Minneapolis, MN: Millbrook.
Leedy, L. (2000). Measuring Penny. New York, NY: H. Holt.
Schwartz, D. (2003). Millions to Measure. Ill. by S. Kellogg. New York, NY: HarperCollins.

Teaching Ideas:

  • Measuring in Standard Units. In Loreen Leedy’s Measuring Penny, a young girl with an assignment to measure “something” of her own choosing completes the assignment by using different standard and nonstandard units to measure her dog.

Challenge your students to complete the same assignment, which appears in full in the book. In the process, students will have a hands-on experience with measurement tools including rulers, yardsticks, meter sticks, and measuring tapes, and units such as inches, centimeters, pounds, cups, seconds, minutes, hours, and cost in dollars. In class, have students share their results.

  • Using Metric Measure: Meter, Centimeter, or Millimeter?

After reading David Schwartz’s Millions to Measure, spend time examining the book’s foldout showing the actual size of a meter. The foldout also explains when to measure in meters, centimeters, and millimeters.

Have students practice measuring objects in the classroom. For each object, students should first decide on the appropriate unit for measuring length—meter, centimeter, or millimeter, then estimate the length of the object. Finally, measure it. How close are students’ estimates? What is the difference between each estimate and the actual measurement? Use the chart below for collecting data. Once the chart is completed, have students discuss their observations after examining the data.

Meter, Centimeter, or Millimeter?

 Object                            Unit of Measure                  Estimate              Actual Measure

  • Customary System or Metric System: Should the US adopt Metric Measure? In Millions to Measure, the author informs readers that there are reasons why almost every country in the world except the United States has adopted the metric system. Ask students what reasons Schwartz offers for thinking that this system is a good one? Do they agree? Why or why not? Have them write down their most convincing reasons for choosing one of these systems of measurement.
  • Choosing the Right Unit: Customary System and Metric System. Using David A. Adler’s How Tall, How Short, How Faraway as a guide, ask students to complete the chart below indicating which units to choose for measuring the length of different items mentioned in the book. Then have students add additional items to measure and select appropriate units of measurement in each system.

Which Units Would You Choose to Measure the Length of . . . ?

 Length to Measure                    Customary System                  Metric System

Celery stick
Distance from your house to your library
  • Amy Axelrod’s Pigs Will Be Pigs introduces a story problem involving money. The animals have no food at home and want to go out to eat. Unfortunately, they also have no money. They search all around the house, finding an assortment of coins and bills. Readers can keep a tally of each new find as they story progresses. When they think they have enough money to eat, the swine head for their favorite restaurant and order four specials from the menu. Readers are asked to consider the following questions: How much money do the animals have? How much change will they get? Additional questions could be derived from the menu: If the pigs ordered five specials would they have enough money to pay the bill? If so, how much change would they receive? If not, how much more money would they need?
  • Take time to enjoy humorous poetry about measurement. Two books by Brian Cleary, How Long or How Wide: A Measuring Guide and On the Scale, a Weighty Tale, provide amusingly illustrated verse about measurement. These books can be used for read alouds and/or choral reading. While enjoying the rhythm and rhyme of the language, students will also be reviewing concepts of length and weight.

By combining children’s literature and hands-on activities we make young students aware of the role measurement in our daily lives. At the same time, we provide them with the vocabulary and skills they need to use these various units of measurement.

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