Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Tips for Teaching Measurement to Third Graders

In the third grade, students are required to generate measurement data by measuring lengths using rulers marked with halves and fourths. In the second grade, students learned how to measure objects to the nearest whole unit.

For those of you who teach third, you know that this is often a difficult concept for students to get. In the beginning, they have a very rough time understanding and recording measurements to the nearest half (not as rough) and quarter inch. 

Today I'm here to share with you how I go about teaching this skill to my kiddos. It has made all the difference in the world in their understanding of how to use a ruler.
We always begin working on this standard after students have had an introduction to basic fractions. If you teach the common core, third graders are also required to identify fractions on a number line….so this standard really helps out with measurement. 

When we first start, we take a quick look at the ruler and discuss that there are 12 inches that make up a foot/the ruler. We then put the ruler aside and work on creating 'The Giant Inch'. 
Each child gets a piece of scrap paper. We begin by folding the paper in half and marking a line for the half.
 We fold the paper back in half, and then in half again (to make quarter marks). Open it up and mark those lines again. We have extensive discussions when going through marking the lines..I make sure the students understand that from 0 to the first mark (A) that is 1/4 because 1 of the 4 parts have been covered or measured. From 0 to the second marking (B) it is 1/2 because 2 of the 4 parts have been covered or measured…we then discuss how 2/4 is equivalent to 1/2 and when we measure we say 1/2. 

This activity really helps the kids understanding the markings on the ruler. I make sure that they understand it is a continuous pattern. To do this, we practice going through the markings on a ruler. The students also practice with this sheet...

Once I know they've got this down…we move onto activities with the Giant Ruler….
I have the students put all of the 'Giant Inches' together to make a 'Giant Foot'. We then use this big scale ruler to practice plotting measurements. Once we've gotten some practice in this way, and all students seem to get it…we move on to a partner activity.

Partners A will write a measurement on their whiteboard and Partner B goes to plot it. They double-check each other's work and then switch off.

With this standard, it truly just takes a whole lot of practice with measuring. Introducing measurement in this way though really helps my students to understand and be able to measure proficiently with their own rulers. 

A favorite activity is flying paper airplanes!

I sometimes invite some upper-grade students to our class to teach the kids how to make different planes. The requirement is that they each come prepared with a different type of plane to present to the class. The kids can then choose which 6th graders they would like to learn from based on the type of plane they present. This also serves as a great listening activity!!

There were other times that I assigned my kiddos to make a paper airplane for homework. They decorated a piece of scratch paper, then folded it up into a plane. 

The next day, we headed out to fly our planes and measure the distance traveled. 


Students record the distance traveled on this recording sheet. To further extend this activity, you could have your students create a line plot to mark the distances traveled. 
If you'd like to try any of these measurement activities out with your students, you can find them here in my TpT Store. 

I hope these tips and ideas were useful to you! Be sure to follow me on Instagram! I will update you there when new posts are released :)



  1. This looks like such a fun activity!

  2. This looks like such a fun activity!

  3. Practice makes a man perfect. Measurement is not an easy task you need a lot of practice to make perfect in it. I really appreciate this style of teaching and practicing in a unique way. This essayvikings.com aussiewritingreviews is an appreciative standard to learn and practice.