Non-Standard Measurements

Lesson Summary:

The lesson introduces the children to the use of non-standard measuring tools. The discussion is designed to be used by the children, either as an individual or as a paired reading activity.  Activity A measures size/length and Activity B measures distance.  Both activities are accompanied by two questions which encourage the children to think about the pros and cons of using non-standard measuring tools.


  • The children will be able to calculate measurements using a non-standard measuring tool.
  • The children will be able to record their measurements correctly.
  • The children will understand and be able to explain that using different objects for measuring will give different results.

Subject Area:


Lesson Excerpt:

Measurements using tools like measuring tapes and rulers, scales and measuring jugs are called standard measurements.  Standard just means that they are the same.  If I measure a piece of string with my ruler and cut off 30cm and my friend in Japan measures a piece of string with his ruler and cuts off 30cm our pieces of string will be exactly the same length.

When I use my hands to measure I am using a non-standard measuring tool.  Hands are not the only non-standard measuring tool you can use.  Pencils, blocks, feet, sticks, even candy bars can be used to measure. Can you think of any others?  But hands come in different sizes, and so do pencils and candy bars.  If my Japanese friend and I each cut off a piece of string 2 hands long, the pieces of string could be different lengths.    So non-standard measurements are not as reliable as standard measurements.

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