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Non-Standard Measurement

Let's learn about non-standard measures. Sometimes you don't have a measuring tape or a ruler handy. You might need to use your imagination when measuring. Instead of a ruler, you might use paperclips, pencils, or even your toes for measuring.

Activity 1
Read Measuring Penny by Linda Leedy. Part of the book can be found below.


Activity 2
If you want to measure your height, but you don’t have a ruler, measuring tape, or any other kind of standard measuring tool, how else could you measure your height? What if you could only use a part of your body as a measuring tool? What part would you use and why?

In this video, you’ll see that the CyberSquad is trying to find body matches. Body matches are found when the length of one part of the body equals the length of another part. In some cases, the length of one body part multiplied by a certain number will equal the length of another body part. Use a paper and pencil to write down the body match relationships that the CyberSquad discovers.

Watch Body Matches video.
  • What tools, other than their own bodies, do the CyberSquad use to discover the body matches?
  • Measuring with parts of your body or other objects like leaves or pieces of string is called non-standard measurement. Can you think of other examples where you could measure in a reasonable way with a non-standard measuring tool?
Activity 3
Before there were standard measuring tools, like rulers and yardsticks, what do you think people might have used when they wanted to measure the length of something? If you wanted to measure a distance on your face, for example, between your eyes or from your nose to your lip, what part of your body might you use?  You may want to test this out with a friend.

In this video, the CyberSquad reviews some of the information they discovered about the physical size of the cybercrocodile kidnapper. What did they find out about foot length and height? What did they find out about their own arm spans as well as the arm span of the kidnapper?

Watch the Catching the Kidnapper video.

  • How did the CyberSquad decide which of the suspects was the kidnapper?
  • What measurement information helped them identify the kidnapper? 
Activity 4
What would you do if you had to measure something, but you couldn’t get near it? Would a photograph of it help? How? When you measure something do you always have to have a measuring tool like a ruler or a yardstick or are there other ways to measure?

As you watch this segment, think about the steps Inez and Matt go through as they figure out which cage is best for Spout. How do they use estimation? How are they able to measure Spout? 

Watch A Cage to Save a Whale video.

  • What is the size of the cage that Matt and Inez chose for Spout?
  • Why did they count the floors of the hotel that Spout was in front of on TV?
  • How would you estimate the height of your classroom ceiling without using any traditional measuring tool, such as a ruler or meter stick?

Lesson adapted from Teacher Domain.
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