Measuring with Non-Standard Units

This week we started our measurement unit.  In first grade, our students learned to measure using non-standard units like paper clips, their fingers, and unifix cubes.  Second graders build on that and learn to use standard units like inches and centimeters.  Importantly, students learn to select the most appropriate unit and to compare units of measure.

To begin, we started again with non-standard units–popsicle sticks and unifix cubes, and compared the lengths of different strips of paper around the room.  Working with a partner, students discovered that they would not get accurate measurements unless they carefully lined up their measuring tools.  When we debriefed, students realized that they all found different lengths, prompting them to carefully remeasure.  They also realized that a unifix cube might be a better tool for smaller lengths, while the popsicle sticks were more efficient for the longer strips because the popsicle sticks are longer.


Joey explained, “It would take a lot of unifix cubes to fill one popsicle stick.  So it would take even more unifix cubes to fill the five popsicle sticks that I put on the paper strip.”

They also figured out different strategies for working with a partner and began creating different roles and delegating to ensure that they shared the workload equitably.

Check them out in this video:


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