Finding Measurement Tough to Manage? Ideas for 2nd and 3rd

Please welcome Chris of Making Meaning.  Chris wrote an in depth blog post about finding ways to sneak in measurement and data standards into your classroom each day.  It was so good that I decided to break it into two posts.  One for 2nd and 3rd grade and the other for 4th and 5th grade. Thanks for sharing these terrific ideas with us Chris!

The Measurement and Data standards of the new Common Core can be particularly daunting.  Even before the CCSS, it seemed like year after year, our students struggled the most with measurement (and geometry).  My theory is that a lack of time (and curriculum) spent focused on teaching measurement, the hands-on nature of the content, and the fact that measurement is a very vocabulary-heavy strand make it a challenging topic for students to truly master.   I’d like to share with you some ideas for ways to teach and reinforce the Measurement and Data Common Core Standards.   You may want to share some of these ideas with your students’ families, as well, so you can get a little extra support from home.  You may also want to download a free, editable Common Core math checklist to help organize and track all of the math standards for third grade.  Other grade checklists are available for purchase.

The Second Grade MD standards:
In second grade, 10 out of the 26 math standards are in the measurement and data strand. That’s about 40%!  And the second grade MD standards really lay the groundwork for those in the coming years.  It’s here that students really get the basics of measuring length, collecting and plotting/ graphing data, telling time, and working with money.  The work in second grade also lays the foundation for problem solving with measurements, which will be expanded upon in third through fifth, and into middle school.

Here are some ways you can help your students master the Common Core Measurement and Data standards for second grade:

1. Estimate, and then measure everything.  How wide do you think our doorway is?  How wide is is actually?  How tall are you?  How tall is your partner?  Who’s taller?  By how much?  What if we measure in centimeters instead of inches?  What happens?  Provide choices for measuring tools and let the students select the appropriate tools and methods for measuring.  Make sure they have to justify their estimations, too!
CCSS: 2.MD.A.1-4

2. After you’ve estimated and measured, make line plots.  You can plot lengths of paint brushes from the art room, sneaker sizes, jumping distances at recess.  You can plot pumpkin heights at Halloween, paper snowflake widths during the winter, the lengths of your valentines, the daily heights of your plants in the spring, etc.  Need a quick activity for a substitute?  Have students measure their pencils and plot the data!
CCSS: 2.MD.D.9

Does it seem like this is what your students see when they look at an analog clock?

3. Ask what time it is (to the nearest 5 minutes).  All day long.  Ask when you start writing, when you stop writing.  Ask when you line up to go to lunch.  Ask what time it will be in 5 minutes.  Ask how long you have until 3:00 dismissal.  Have students tell their reading buddy what time it is before they start reading.  Have them draw clocks showing what time they start and finish their homework.  Families can really help out with this one!
CCSS: 2.MD.C.7

4. Incorporate the use of money into your classroom.  Give out (fake!) money for good behavior, ideas, answers, hard work, kindness, whatever you wish to reward.  Have students keep track of how much they have “earned.” Then, let them “buy” things (could be pretend things, extra snacks donated by parents, privileges, extra recess, computer time, no homework, etc.).  You could let other teachers (specials/ preps, etc.) in on it, too.  If a system like this doesn’t fit in to your class, consider doing it as a special activity for a week or so a few times during the year.  Or, incorporate “playing” store into your social studies or science unit- kids can use fake money to “buy” healthy foods during a unit on nutrition, for example.
CCSS: 2.MD.C.8

5. Conduct lots of surveys- and report the results!  This is a good one to send home over holidays, when your students will be seeing lots of friends and family.  Give them (or help them generate) a question with four possible answer choices.  Send them home to collect the data, then graph it and analyze it when you get back to school.  Surveying your new classmates is a great way to get to know each other at the beginning of the year, too!
CCSS: 2.MD.D.10

The Third Grade MD standards:
The Common Core Measurement and Data standards are still pretty heavy in third grade- with 8 out of 25 (almost 1/3) of the standards in this strand.  Third graders build on their second grade understandings about telling time, measuring length, and collecting and plotting/ graphing data.  They are also introduced to estimating, measuring, and problem solving with liquids and masses.  Developing the concept of area (and, to a lesser degree, perimeter) is an important  focus in this grade.

Here are some ways you can help your students master the Common Core Measurement and Data standards for third grade:

1. Continue to ask what time it is (to the nearest minute).  All day long.  Ask when you start writing, when you stop writing.  Ask when you line up to go to lunch.  Ask what time it will be in 12 minutes.  Ask how long you have until you go to music at 10:57.  Have students tell their reading buddy what time it is before they start reading.  Have them draw clocks showing what time they start and finish their homework.  Families can really help out with this one!
CCSS: 3.MD.A.1

2. Provide tons of opportunities to work with measurements of liquids and masses.  Create a water or mass (with pan balances) measuring center and rotate the students through it.  Label all the tools so students will learn the names.  Make references to grams, kilograms, and liters whenever possible (I can’t believe I drank that whole liter of water!  That’s 1,000 milliliters!  No wonder I have to go to the bathroom!)  Start a Measurement Museum and let the students contribute all year long.  They can collect things that weigh about one gram or one kilogram, or things that hold a liter of water.
CCSS: 3.MD.A.2

3. Continue graphing and plotting– as often as possible.  See numbers 2 and 5 in the second grade list above for ideas.
CCSS: 3.MD.B.3-4

4.  Tile every flat surface you can find!  Area concepts are huge in 3rd grade.  Help your students develop those concepts (more) naturally by doing tiling activities.  Have them cover their desks with inch tiles, count the tiles on the floor/ in the courtyard/ patio/ on the ceiling, count window panes or tiles in the bathrooms, make arrays on the bulletin boards, create tile mosaics (with whole tile arrays) in art class, use lots and lots of graph paper to draw lots and lots of rectangles.  Make sure your tiles are square, and refer to them as “unit squares” or “square units.”  Eventually, they will stop counting and start adding the rows or columns.  And then, with even more tiling experience, they will stop adding and start multiplying.  And then, when you are just about to run out of things for them to tile, they will start to see the additive nature of area and will start to understand the concept of the distributive property.  (The distributive property is the idea that 4 x 12 is the same as 4 x 10 plus 4 x 2.) And that is super important for understanding more complex math, especially multiplication.
CCSS: 3.MD.C.5-7


5. Do perimeter challenges.  After the students have mastered basic perimeter-finding skills, move on to challenges.  Who can make the biggest rectangle (most area) with a perimeter of 18 cm?  What’s the least amount of fencing you would need to enclose 20 square meters of lawn?  How many different rectangles with an area of 24 square inches can you make?  These make great team building and problem solving exercises, and you can use them to challenge those who finish their tiling or other work early!
CCSS: 3.MD.D.8

Not overwhelmed yet?  Want even more ideas?  Check out this Measurement, Data, and Graphs Pinterest board!

Happy (Measurement and Data) Teaching!!

I have 12 years of experience teaching elementary- in urban and suburban schools; self-contained special education, inclusion, and gifted and talented; and working with ELLs and students from many different cultures and backgrounds.  Now, I do a lot of volunteer work with the public schools in my New York City neighborhood while I work on writing curriculum and transitioning to a career in global philanthropy.  My TpT store and my blog, Making Meaning, mostly focus on my strongest areas of expertise- classroom management/ organization, upper elementary math, and the Common Core.  Oh, and I love to travel!



Make sure to come back and read the second installment for 4th and 5th grade this week!
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