How Big is a Hand?

By Pam Westkott



Through inquiry, students will be able to determine the need for standard units of measurement. 



       Anchor activity – Students are asked to consider: What if there were not tools to measure things? How would you be able to communicate about measurement?

         Tiering – to best meet the needs of students, the work will be tiered for learners:  who are concrete thinkers, those who are on the mark, for those who think outside the box.

         Assessment – Presentation of standard of measurement developed to whole class.


Specific Standards

       Social Studies: II – Time, Continuity & Change

         Math: M2i – selects and uses units for estimating and measuring.

         Speaking, Listening & Viewing: E3c for demonstration



       Textbook: Narragansett: Our Seaside Community, A Retelling of Our Town’s History,

Trade books: How Big is A Foot?  Jim and the Beanstalk.

Unlimited resources/manipulatives for developing a unit of measurement.



       After reading the chapter: The Narragansett Pacers students will begin the process for raising questions about how a hand could be used to measure a horse.

         Tiering you may want to consider for:

Concrete Learners-How could you measure…?

On the Mark Learners – What system could you develop to measure…?

Thinking Outside the Box Learners - What do you think might happen if…?


 Through exploration they will determine how ineffective different means of measurement can be for measuring the same items everyone else measures.(desk top, length of classroom, etc.)

         Working in pairs, each team begins measuring and thinking about their process. They must reach consensus on a specific means for measuring things, test their hypothesis, make a final decision about their chosen standard, and measure various items using their standard.



         Students in audience will use a student-created rubric for presentations. The rubrics created will reflect the standards and criteria for reaching/exceeding them.


SAMPLE for Reaching the Standard:


Working partners will:

• Make connection to historical use of a monarch’s hand, foot, etc., as a non-standard way of measuring things

• Understand how this practice of measuring is outdated.

• Reject the non-standard for standard mode of measuring.

• Select and uses informal(self-created) units  for estimating and measuring length and width, possibly depth.

• Reach consensus with the working partner and decide who will do what during the presentation.

• Prepare for demonstration of the standard selected by the partners.

• Give reasons in support of the chosen standard to the group listening.

• Share results with class after having used a standard unit

• Respond appropriately to questions and comment from audience.


Exceeds the Standard:

• Present an analysis of the results.

• Relate their findings to another standard unit.

• Reflect on what surprised, befuddled or had been predicted while working.