Sep 22, 2011

Building Giants

The problem the students were working on was: 
There was a giant who was 6 cubits and a span tall. How tall do you think the giant was? We didn't have this problem on a piece of paper for the students to read but a good discussion was had about tall and big as well as what a cubit and a span was. It was also a great time to have a conversation about thinking and what it looks like.  If you want to know please message me & I would be happy to tell you. 
We sent the students to work when they we thought they were ready. Some had confused faces but they are kids and want to please. This problem was done the second and third day of school. Yes, you read that correctly. They could use whatever they wanted, paper, blocks, etc.
We got a variety of strategies and different looks to the giant. I'm showing this one because when we were finished we compared the strategies to each other. We didn't get to these two but wouldn't it be interesting to compare how these two examples are similar and different. What would your students say? 
We worked through several different measuring tasks. One was to measure their height with the names. It's an activity I use from the book Chrysanthemum. From this activity we compared the height of the giant to the height of ourselves. These two girls quickly came to a conclusion. They built the giant, you can see the different colors (it's their cubit) and then measured their heights.
The eraser is marking how tall they were.
She is then measuring the left over height of the giant. They discovered the giant was a cubit and a span taller.
This group built their own heights. Look at the amount of work they put into this task. The green blocks are the giant and the other set of blocks are their heights. The organization is fabulous.


  1. I like this idea! I usually do an activity that goes along with the book "How Big is a Foot?" by Rolf Myller. I know a foot isn't a metric measurement but I like how it uses non-standard units, shows the importance of choosing appropriate units and to remember to write down what unit you used to measure.

    Do you start out the grade 2 math curriculum with measurement? If so, any particular reason why?

  2. Hello! I know the book very well. It's a great book for working on measurement. I agree about the nonstandard foot measurement. I don't think we can ignore the word because it's used in our everyday language so I think it's important to use it. I do an activity using foot with The Foot Book but I like How Big is a Foot for the actual measurement of the queen's bed.

    I do start the year with measurement. I believe from a lot of reading and discussion with a friend of mine that measurement encompasses a lot of problem solving and it's a great way to incorporate number. For example, the kid's cubit was 16 blocks long. This is a great number for them to start to work with at the beginning of the year. We haven't done any number work, it's all been measuring. Already, I can tell those that need practice and those that have some number sense and problem solving skills. This is my main focus, I want them to persevere and be able to think mathematically. Being able to build a measuring tool also shows me that they have a sense of number and understanding of the relationship between where the numbers go and the distance or space between numbers. I think it's a bigger idea than teachers actually think it is.
    Hope that helps.


Thank you very much for your comments.