Useful Referents for Common Metric Measurements

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Dec 22, 2010

Linear Measurement

  • Centimeter: the width across a child’s little finger at the first joint, or the width of a standard paper clip
  • Millimeter: the thickness of a dime, or the diameter of the wire on a standard paperclip
  • Meter: height of a door knob from the floor
  • Kilometer: distance you could walk comfortably in 15 minutes; or six-tenths of a mile


  • Gram: a regular jelly bean, a standard paper clip
  • Milligram: one thousandth of a regular jelly bean
  • Kilogram: two footballs, a little more than 2 pounds (2.2 pounds)


  • Milliliter: the liquid you could fit in a regular-sized jelly bean or in a base-10 unit cube
  • Liter: a “1-liter” bottle, a little more than a quart (1.06 quarts)
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