Tuesday, February 15, 2011

How Big is a Foot?

Here's a fun measurement lesson you can easily follow in your own classroom, at home or school...

Using a lesson idea from Marilyn Burns', Math and Literature (K-3), I read aloud the first part of the book, How Big is a Foot? The story tells of a King who wants to give the Queen something special for her birthday. He takes measurements, using his own feet as a guide, and sends a message to the Apprentice saying that the bed should be 6 feet by 3 feet. The Apprentice makes the bed, using his small feet as a reference. When the bed turns out too small, the Apprentice is jailed.

Following the lesson idea, we stopped reading the book in the middle and I asked ds8 to write a letter to the Apprentice, giving him some advice. My son wrote,

"Dear Apprentice,

The King used his big feet and you did it with your small feet. Tell the King to stand in front of you so you can use his big feet to measure."

After the letter, we read the rest of the book. Then we followed a lesson from the Math Learning Center, "Measuring Length in Teacher Feet." (To access the free lesson, including blackline pdfs, go here and download "D2 Measurement: Length in U.S. Customary Units." You'll find many fun lessons in that set.)

My son estimated how many steps it would take him to cross the living room. He then carefully measured with heel-to-toe steps and compared his estimate to the actual. He also estimated how many steps it would take me to cross the same space and compared estimate/actual. Then I gave him a paper foot I'd prepared by tracing one of my shoes. He used the "foot" and the record sheet (free pdf), estimating and then measuring things around our house.

More measuring fun to follow!....


  1. Love this idea - it's a bit similar to Sid the Science Kid episode about non-standard units of measurement. We were measuring a room in Lego blocks then.

  2. I have that book. I should do a lesson on it. Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. We're just past that portion of measurement, but I think it would make far more sense to them. I think we'll do a center activity of for it. Thanks.

  4. I love this book and the way you can use it in education.

    So glad it is getting some of the spotlight!


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