Lesson plan

Estimating Length

Advance your students from relative measurements to learning about standardized units with this lesson that teaches them about inches and feet by using common classroom objects.
Need extra help for EL students? Try the The Language of Estimation pre-lesson.
EL Adjustments
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Need extra help for EL students? Try the The Language of Estimation pre-lesson.

Students will be able to measure and estimate lengths using inches and feet.

The adjustment to the whole group lesson is a modification to differentiate for children who are English learners.
EL adjustments
(5 minutes)
  • Explain to the students that today they will be measuring objects in the classroom.
  • Hold up a ruler and ask students, "What is this?" Allow students a minute to think-pair-share their answers.
  • Clarify that the object is a ruler and it is used to measure objects in inches, a unit of measurement equal to 2.54 cm or about the diameter of a quarter, and feet, a unit of measurement equal to 12 inches or about the height of a folder.
  • Tell the students that sometimes, instead of using a ruler to measure objects, they can estimate instead.
(5 minutes)
  • Show the students a coffee cup. Say, "I'm wondering if this coffee cup is closer to 5 inches or 5 feet tall? How can I figure this out?"
  • Allow a few students to share out their ideas. Clarify that the coffee cup is pretty small, so it's most likely closer to 5 inches than it is to 5 feet. Tell the students that by using their knowledge to figure out that the coffee cup is closer to 5 inches, they are estimating because they aren't actually measuring the coffee cup.
  • Choose a few things in the classroom and ask similar questions using inches and feet.
(10 minutes)
  • Put students in partnerships and provide each pair with a pencil and folder. Reiterate that when we estimate we use information we already know to make an informed decision about the size or amount of something.
  • Ask students to look at the pencils. Say, "I want you to think about if this pencil will be more or less than 12 inches, or 1 foot long." Give students time to discuss their ideas in partnerships. Allow a few partnerships to share out their ideas.
  • Continue the process with the folder and then the student's desk.
  • Explain to the students that next they will complete a worksheet that asks them to estimate objects and determine if they would be closer to a certain amount of feet or inches.
(20 minutes)
  • Instruct students to go back to their desks and pass out the Estimating Length 1 and Estimating Length 2 worksheets to each student.
  • Explain to the students that they will complete these worksheets independently, using their knowledge of inches and feet to support them.

Enrichment: Encourage students to estimate the length of the classroom in feet if time allows.

Support: Allow students to work in partnerships during independent working time.

(5 minutes)
  • Rotate around the classroom as students are finishing their worksheets and provide feedback and support as necessary.
  • Collect student work and use their samples to assess understanding of inches, feet, and estimation.
(5 minutes)
  • Write the following words on the whiteboard: estimate, feet, inches, measurement.
  • Ask students to turn and talk to a partner, explaining what one of the words means in their own words.

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