EL Support Lesson

Long, Longer, Longest

Students will love working together to create a display that demonstrates understanding of relative length. Use alone or with the lesson **Order Up Measurement.**
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Order Up! lesson plan.
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This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Order Up! lesson plan.

Students will be able to organize and display various items according to relative length.


Students will be able to describe the relative length of different items using comparatives with sentence frame and partner support.

(5 minutes)


  • Tell students that you like to eat carrots at lunch.
  • Hold two carrots side by side, or show students the equal length carrots from the Carrot Examples, checking that they are the same length. Have students turn and talk to a partner about what will happen after you take a bite of one of the carrots.
  • Show students the shorter Carrot Example, or take a bite of one of the actual carrots.
  • Show the students the carrots side by side a second time, and prompt students to compare the carrots now with the words shorter and longer.
(5 minutes)
  • Create a chart titled, "Length" to model collecting and displaying items of different lengths.
  • Begin with pencils. Tell students a story problem, "Saul has a brand new pencil that has never been used. Jennifer has a pencil that she has been using for a week. Juan has used the same pencil for a month, and has sharpened it many times."
  • Ask the class to predict which student will need to get a new pencil the soonest.
  • Show students Saul's unsharpened pencil, and tape it to the chart. Point out that Saul has the longest pencil.
  • Ask students who has the shortest pencil. Notice that as Juan sharpens his pencil it gets shorter and shorter. Model aligning the edges of Saul and Juan's pencils to compare length, and tape a short pencil below the unsharpened pencil.
  • Ask students who has the second shortest pencil (Jennifer) , and tape a medium-length pencil between the other two.
  • Label the top pencil "longest", and the bottom pencil "shortest." instruct students to gesture with hands spread wide and repeat, "Longest." Tell them move their hands close together and repeat, "Shortest."
  • Review the use of the apostrophe s (ie Jennifer's) to show possession if needed.
  • Display the following sentence frames:
    • ____ is the longest.
    • ____ is the shortest.
  • Tell students to turn and talk to a partner to describe the pencils.
  • Display the Vocabulary Cards, and instruct students to add the vocabulary words to Bilingual Glossary (optional).
(10 minutes)
  • Display the sentences frames:
    • ____ is longer than ____.
    • ____ is shorter than ____.
  • Tell students to turn and talk to a partner, and use the sentence frames to compare the lengths of all three pencils.
  • Discuss with the class that since he has the shortest pencil, Juan will most likely need to replace his pencil the soonest.
  • Point out the the suffix "est" means "most" and the suffix "er" means more. Write the phrase "more long" on the board, and tell students that this is not correct English. Erase "more", and add the suffix to form the word longer. Tell students this is the correct way to talk about which object has more length.
  • Explain that when we say "length" to measure something horizontally, or side-to-side. When we measure something vertically, or up and down, we say "heigth." When we compare the height or two things, we say "taller" rather than "longer." For example, the teacher is taller than the students.
  • Repeat the procedure with straws cut to various lengths. Model aligning the edges to compare, and adding the labels "longest" and "shortest."
(15 minutes)
  • Assign students to small groups. If needed, create a visual that reviews expectations for group-work:
    1. Quiet voices,
    2. Share the materials.
    3. Do your work.
  • Provide each group with various items with an obvious length dimension such as pipe cleaners, straws, string and strips of paper. Students can also draw items such as pencils, carrots, snakes and fish on the display. Each group will need a large piece of chart paper and a marker.
  • Have one student in the group choose an item and tape it to a piece of chart paper. The other students in the groups should cut the same objects to various lengths. Have the students order the objects from shortest to longest by lining them up at the end. Students can write, "shortest" next to the shortest item, and "longest" next to the longest item.
  • Group members should continue to take turns choosing or drawing an item until the poster is full of items of various lengths.


  • Scaffold the activity by taping different items on the chart paper for students, and instruct them to tape a longer item above, and a shorter item below.
  • Groups students at various levels of English-language proficiency together. Group ELs with supportive peers with more developed English-language skills.


  • Teach students to describe items as the "second longest" or "second shortest" in comparison to other items.
  • Instruct students to measure the items on the chart with a ruler.
(5 minutes)
  • Read the story problem: "The zoo has three different kinds of snakes in the reptile exhibit. The python is 20 feet long. The rattlesnake is 6 feet long. The king cobra is 10 feet long. The zoo guide wants to give visitors information about which snake is the longest and which is the shortest. Sketch the snakes and label their lengths. Then, write at least two sentences comparing the lengths of the snakes."
  • Record snake types and lengths for student reference. Allow students to use sentence frames and draw a simple squiggly line to represent the snakes.
  • Circulate and assist. Remind students to use suffixes "er" and "est"in their sentences.
(5 minutes)
  • Tell students to practice sharing their sentences with a partner. Tell them they should all be prepared to share a sentence with the class.
  • Choose a few students at random to share their sentence with the class.

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