EL Support Lesson

Measurement Tools

Introduce students to measurement tools with this fun hands-on activity. Students will get plenty of practice comparing length and weight as well. Use this scaffolded EL lesson plan alone or with **How Big is It?**.
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the How Big Is It? lesson plan.
Grade Subject View aligned standards
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the How Big Is It? lesson plan.

Students will be able to measure length using standard and non-standard units.


Students will be able to describe the steps to measure length using centimeter cubes with visual and partner support.

(5 minutes)
  • Tell students that you love to cook, and can't wait to get home to make chocolate chip cookies! Ask students to give you a thumbs up if they have ever cooked anything, and tell them to turn and talk to a partner to discuss.
  • Show students some flour, and say, "This is all the flour I have. I don't know if I need to stop at the grocery store to buy more flour. The recipe say I need 2 cups."
  • Show students a large plastic cup and pour the flour in. Say, "I don't have enough to fill up two of these cups, so I don't think I have enough!"
  • Allow students to correct you. Think aloud, "Yes, in cooking 2 cups means a specific amount. You're right- I need to measure to find out the exact amount of flour that is needed in the recipe."
  • Show students a measuring cup and explain, "This is a measurement tool used in cooking. If I use the measuring cup, I will know that I am measuring with the same tool that was used when the recipe was written."
  • Model measuring 2 cups of flour using the measuring cup. Comment, "Yes, I do have enough flour!"
(10 minutes)
  • Create a chart titled, "Measurement Tools" and list "measuring cup." Ask students to turn and talk to a partner to brainstorm other measuring tools.
  • Call on student volunteers to share ideas, and list ideas on the chart. As students suggest the tools pictured on the Vocabulary Cards, tape the cards to the chart.
  • Tell students to chorally repeat the name of each measurement tool. Display the sentence frame, "A ____ measures ____."
  • Point out the the ruler and tape measure both measure the same thing: length. Tell students to gesture with hands close together and repeat, "shorter." Have them gesture with hands wide and repeat, "longer."
  • Ask what a scale measures (weight). Show students how to gesture with hands side by side, as you model weighing two items (e.g. a feather and a rock) on a pan balance scale. Students can gesture by lowering one hand as they repeat, "Heavier." They can move the other hand in an upward motion and repeat, "Lighter."
  • Think aloud, "Yes, the rock is heavier than the feather. The feather is lighter than the rock."
  • Show students the thermometer and ask what it measures (temperature). Tell them to fan themselves and repeat, "Hotter", and then gesture as if shivering and repeat, "Colder."
  • Reflect, "Yes all of these tools are used to measure different things. Turn to a neighbor and tell them what one of the tools measures. For example, a thermometer measures temperature."
  • Instruct students to add the definitions to the Bilingual Glossary (optional).
(10 minutes)
  • Tell students that today they will use two of the measurement tools: the ruler and the balance scale.
  • Remind students that the ruler measures length. Model comparing the length of two objects, such as a pencil and a straw.
  • Think aloud as you measure, "First I must line up the end of the ruler with the object I am measuring. I will measure how long the pencil is. Next, I will repeat to find out how long the straw is. Turn and talk to a partner to predict, or guess, which is longer: the pencil or the straw." Provide the sentence frame, "I predict the ____ is longer than the ____."
  • Compare the lengths and tell students to repeat after you, "The straw is longer than the pencil. The pencil is shorter than the straw."
  • Show students a pan balance scale and remind students that the scale measures weight. Explain that this tool can be used to compare the weight of two objects, such as a pencil and an eraser. Have students turn and talk to a partner to predict which is heavier: the pencil or the eraser. Provide the sentence frame, "I predict the ____ is heavier than the ____."
  • Say, "I used the ruler to measure how long the pencil is. Now I will use the scale to measure how heavy it is."
  • Show students that the object that weighs more makes the basket drop lower. Tell students to repeat after you, "The eraser is heavier than the pencil. The pencil is lighter than the eraser."
  • Continue comparing the lengths and weights of a few more objects. Invite students to make predictions, and check the predictions using the measuring tools.
(10 minutes)
  • Tell students that they will work with a partner to measure objects in the classroom using rulers and scales. Set up balance scales for students to share in small groups, and pass out rulers.
  • Provide objects with obvious length and weight dimensions for students to measure.
  • Allow students to explore freely with the measurement tools. Encourage partnerships to use the sentence frames to make a prediction that compares the weight or length of two objects. Then, students can use together and use the measurement tools to check the prediction.


  • Assess that students are able to compare relative length before introducing weight.
  • Pair student with a supportive peer with more developed English-language skills.


  • Encourage students to explain the steps to measure using rulers and scales in their own words.
  • Prompt students to compare temperature using "is hotter than/ is colder than."
  • As students work, listen that they are able to use the sentence frame to share a prediction about the relative length and weight or two objects with a partner.
  • Observe that students are able to use measurement tools to check the accuracy of their prediction.
(5 minutes)
  • Call students back together, and ask what the ruler measures (length).
  • Choose a few students to describe the relative length of two objects using the sentence frame.
  • Review that the scale measures weight. Allow students to share the relative weights of a few objects from the activity.
  • Ask students to describe ways that measurement tools help us.

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