I was looking through some of my photos from lessons this past term and realized that I had never shared this little gem. This activity was our introduction to measurement, and it was a fantastic success!
I gave each student a standard piece of construction paper. I explained that they could use that piece of paper and cut it however they liked. They needed to make the longest paper chain that they could with this one sheet of paper.
It was simply incredible watching them consider how to do this. Some kids just began cutting at random. Others simply cut to the best of their ability. Cutting can be a challenging fine motor task, after all! Others instinctively seemed to know that thinner paper strips would produce more links in the chain. I had some choose to cut the paper horizontally, while others cut vertically.
Once all of the students completed their chains we hung them on the wall, starting at the same level. We were then able to compare the lengths of the chains and discuss why some chains were longer or shorter than others. We had wonderful concrete visual representations of length, and we even had some chains of the same length.
The best part was certainly listening to the children explain why they thought that some chains were so much longer then others, even though everyone had the same amount of paper to begin with.
What teacher doesn’t love a simple, no prep activity that includes fine motor work, critical thinking, perseverance, comparing, counting, and reflecting? Happy measuring!