In this lesson plan, children learn to use standard and nonstandard units to measure differently sized items. They begin sharing prior knowledge about concepts related to measuring. Next, they watch and discuss a video in which Curious George needs to figure out how to measure a building’s height. Children then draw pictures of Curious George and Gnocchi, the cat, and use them to measure various items they’ve selected from around the school. They compare these measurements to their predictions for each item. Children conclude the lesson by trying out different measuring tools to measure differently sized pieces of spaghetti. As children go through the activities, they will be using the following STEM skills: asking questions, making predictions, estimating, experimenting, and sharing and comparing data.
- Understand that the height and length of something can be measured by laying multiple copies of a same-sized unit end to end.
- Understand that measuring tools include measuring tapes, rulers, and yardsticks.
Prep for Teachers
- Cut enough pieces of poster paper so that each child has one of each size (see Supplies).
- Make a list of items and locations around your classroom (inside or out) that could be measured by groups of children
- Break the spaghetti into various lengths.
- Make copies of the Measure with Curious George handout.
- Drawing materials (pencils, crayons, markers)
- Poster paper, cut into 11 x 17 rectangles and 8 ½ x 11 rectangles (enough for each children to receive one 11 x 17 piece and one 8 ½ x 11 piece)
- Measuring tapes, rulers, yardsticks (enough for each group of students to have one)
- Spaghetti (uncooked)
- Measure with Curious George handouts (One per child)
1. Talk about measuring.
Review or introduce the following topics and concepts related to measuring. Encourage children to share their prior knowledge about the topic and to demonstrate the concepts.
- Height is how tall or high something is. Length is how long something is.
- You can use any same-sized object, such as markers, unsharpened or unused crayons or pencils, or paperclips to measure something.
- When you compare measurements, you use size words such as tall, taller, tallest; long, longer, longest; short, shorter, and shortest.
- Standard measuring tools include rulers and measuring tapes.
- Standard measuring tools describe height and length in inches and feet.
2. Watch the video.
- Before children watch the video, ask them to look for the different ways George tries to measure the building. You may want to explain that what George has wrapped around his shoulder is—as Chef Pisghetti hopes—the “longest strand of cooked spaghetti in the world.” You may also want to preview vocabulary words and terms such as accurate, measuring tape, and feet (as used for measurement).
- Show the video Curious George: Measure Up.
- Ask, How did Curious George try to measure the building? What tool did he think would be helpful? Give children time to share their thoughts and ideas. (You may want to point out that George needed to keep the cat, Gnocchi, away from the spaghetti because she thinks it’s string and therefore a great cat toy. In addition, Chef Pisghetti thinks he is talking to George’s friend Steve on the phone.)
3. Draw pictures of Curious George and Gnocchi.
- Working in pairs or individually, have each child draw a picture of Curious George on an 11 x 17 piece of poster paper. (Be sure their pictures fill the length of the paper.)
- Next have each child draw a picture of Gnocchi on the 8 ½ x 11 piece of poster paper. (Be sure their pictures fill the length of the paper.)
- Talk about which picture (i.e., the paper the picture is on) is bigger or smaller.
- Note that all of the Curious George pictures, which are bigger, are the same size and all of the Gnocchi pictures, which are the smaller ones, are equal in size.
4. Decide what to measure.
- Ask the children to brainstorm a list of items at school that they can measure using their pictures. This might include the classroom door, the hallway, gym floor, or cafeteria tables. Choose one or more.
- Before you measure the items, have children guess how many “Georges” the item will be. Write their guesses on the board in the class.
- Explain to the children that they will now actually measure the item(s) and see if their guesses are correct.
5. Measure twice!
- Have children use the pictures of Curious George to measure the height or length of an item (by laying the pictures end-to-end). Help the children count how many “Georges” it is.
- When you return to class, have children revisit their estimates. Compare their actual measurements to what they estimated.
- Ask children to tell you whether the actual measurement is more than or less than their estimated measurement.
- Using the pictures of Gnocchi, have children measure the item again.
- Compare how many Gnocchis versus how many Georges the item is. If you want, you can make a chart or a graph to show the results. Why did it take more Gnocchis?
6. Experiment with measuring tools.
- Distribute the measuring tapes, yardsticks, and rulers you have displayed. Show how these tools use inches, feet, and yards as units of measure.
- Let children experiment with the tools by measuring the different-sized pieces of spaghetti, just like Curious George did with the cooked piece of spaghetti. If they want, they can organize them according to size.
- Help children write down the measurements.
- Ask for volunteers to talk about other things they could measure, in class or at home.
Send home the Measure with Curious George handouts for students to do with their families.
Extend with Games
Children may enjoy playing “How Tall,” an online Curious George game. As they play, children estimate how tall something is and then measure it using a variety of objects.
Extend with Books
Encourage children to use these books as they continue to learn about measuring.
- Biggest, Strongest, Fastest by Steve Jenkins (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1997). From tiny to gigantic, discover the different sizes of animals around the world.
- Curious George Roller Coaster by H.A. Rey (Houghton Mifflin, 2007). Curious George has to be just the right height to ride a special roller coaster.
- Inch by Inch by Leo Lionni (HarperCollins, 1995). A smart little worm uses his measuring skills to “inch” his way to safety.
- Tap Tap Bang Bang by Emma Garcia (Boxer Books, 2013). Match the sound effects to the tools and the work they do in this board book.