Monday, April 4, 2016

Math Tip Monday: Four Great Books to Teach Measurement

Welcome to Math Tip Monday! 

Kayla, from K's Classroom Kreations, and I host this linky each month to encourage teachers to share ideas, tips, and best practices for teaching math in the primary classroom. Please join us and link your blog post below. Don't forget to include the Math Tip Monday image in your post and please link back to the host blogs. Also, please share the love by leaving comments to let our bloggers know you appreciate their ideas.

I love connecting children's literature to my math teaching. Today, I thought I'd share with you some awesome books I use while teaching my measurement unit. I've provided links to each book's Amazon page, but keep in mind that most of these books are available through multiple sellers. For each book, I've included an idea for a follow-up activity that will engage students in actively exploring measurement concepts.


I often start teaching measurement by comparing sizes. I use How Big Is It? to talk about the size of various objects in relation to other objects. My kids are always fascinated by the pictures and it helps them to get a real sense of how large these well-known objects really are. My kids are especially fascinated by the animal comparisons. The photograph of a polar bear standing on a basketball court next to some incredibly tall players is mind-blowing! The giant squid lying in front of a two story house and the giraffe whose head reaches into a second-floor bedroom are equally impressive. 

I usually follow this book up with some practice using comparative language. Students locate objects outside or in the room and then write comparative sentences in their math journals. 

"A water bottle is taller than a milk carton." 
"This stick is shorter than this bench." 
"My arm is longer than a pencil." 
"The I-pad is as long as my pencil box."

It's a little bit like a scavenger hunt and the kids get good practice using the vocabulary to compare various measurements. And my kids love it!


I love Leo Lionni's Inch by Inch! It's a great way to introduce the concept of measuring length using inches. The story is simple. An inchworm avoids becoming a meal by measuring various parts of  different bird's bodies. He is stumped, though, when he is asked to measure the length of the nightingale's song. My students always appreciate how the quick-witted inchworm cleverly avoids becoming the nightingale's breakfast.

For a follow-up activity, I ask my students to measure the length of various objects around our room. We use inch-long pieces of chenille stems - I always get green ones so they can measure using their own fuzzy inchworms! I've also used some commercially produced inchworms for this activity, but my kids seem to enjoy the ones I make just as much.


How Big is a Foot? is the perfect book for helping students understand the importance of standard versus non-standard measurement.  The story tells about a young carpenter's apprentice who is charged with building a bed for the queen. Confusion reigns when he discovers the bed he built was way too small. My kids immediately understand how the mistake occured. The king's foot and the apprentice's foot are not the same size.

This year, my kids had a great time with this follow-up activity:  I had them create two doll-sized beds. The first was created using small paper clips to measure the length and width. The second bed was created using large paper clips to measure. They created the beds, recorded and analyzed their results, and then wrote about what kind of doll might fit in each bed. This activity was also very useful as an assessment. I was able to see who was having trouble with measurement concepts before we moved on to using standard units and measurement tools.


I just discovered Loreen Leedy's Measuring Penny a couple of years ago. This is a wonderful book to use for a variety of measurement concepts: standard vs. non-standard units, comparative measurement, height, length, weight, volume, time, temperature, and money. In the book, Lisa measures her dog, Penny, in lots of different ways. 

This book is a great introduction to a home-school connection. Next time I use it, I plan to assign my students a measurement project to complete at home. Just as Lisa's teacher does in the story, I'll challenge my students to measure something in their home in several different ways. I wonder what my students would come up with!

Do you use literature in your measurement lessons? What books and activities would you recommend? Share your thoughts in the comments!

1 comment:

  1. I need to check these books out! I love connecting literature to math and these seem like great stories. I'll have to add it to my list this year! :)