What can you measure?
One of the first places I like to start is to ask pupils to think of a time they’ve measured something, or a time something was measured for them. This is a way of collecting some possible definitions of the meaning of ‘measure’.
If my learners say they haven’t measured anything, I ask them questions like: ‘Have you ever had your feet measured?’, or ‘Have you ever watched the weather forecast to see how hot it was going to be?’.
Ask learners to think of what can be measured. It’s useful to think of this first in non-standard measures, establishing the idea of measuring something. Share the misconceptions and mistakes that the learners make and allow time for discussion around this.
Along with this initial approach, I generated the lessons from the starting point in textbook 1A and took place with a Primary 2 Year 1 class over a sequence of 2-3 lessons.
Start with a problem that needs to be solved then lead into a discussion around noticing the size of hands and how this might impact on the measure.
What I found was this approach generated lots of supplementary questions and an initial vocabulary of measure. I was surprised at the depth of knowledge that the learners had. Many of my learners instinctively measured by estimate and compared their results using non-specific comparative vocabulary such as long, short, heavy, light etc.
In pairs pupils should then discuss how they are going to ‘measure’ how long things are, using feet and hands. This will lead to a discussion around accuracy where it was suggested that it would be more accurate if we used a cut out of our hands and feet.
The concept of accuracy was further explored when we started actually measuring. Attention was drawn to potential inaccuracies and misconceptions through a celebration of ‘brilliant mistakes’. This led to much more accurate measuring as you can see from the two boys measuring the length of the sofa.
During the sessions the learners were encouraged to ‘think, notice and wonder’ and I acted as their scribe. It was clear that by the end of the session the learners were ready to start building an understanding of standard units of measure.
After this I then moved onto measuring with cuisine rods, making our own rulers before moving on to measuring length with rulers and tape measures.