Teachers' tricks for weights and measures
Make direct comparisons
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Measure using non-standard units of measure
Introduce standard units of measure
When introducing standard units it’s a good idea to mention some of the problems (noted above) of using non-standard measures to give meaning to the use of rulers, scales and measuring cups.
When measuring objects together, really encourage your child to take their time and become accurate. (Baking is an excellent way to illustrate this point; have them read the scales and explain that if you aren’t accurate the result just won’t taste or look right!) As children move into Key Stage 2 they’ll be encouraged to measure length to the nearest millimetre. This is also an area of maths where your child will be encouraged to estimate (make a “clever guess”) and then check their estimate with an accurate measurement.
Learn conversion facts off by heart
|10mm (millimetres)||=||1cm (centimetre)|
|100cm (centimetres)||=||1m (metre)|
|1000m (metres)||=||1km (kilometre)|
|1000g (grams)||=||1kg (kilogram)|
|1000ml (millilitres)||=||1l (litre)|
Common KS2 maths problems involve working out the difference between two measurements given in different units of measurement.
Children will be asked questions such as:
Nathan is 72cm tall. John is 1.2m tall. How much taller is John than Nathan?
For this question, they will not only need to work out the difference between these two amounts, but they also need to convert the measurements so that they are both in centimetres or both in metres. If they convert them both to centimetres, they need to work out the difference between 72cm and 120cm.
Help your child at home by giving them two different-sized containers full of liquid (for example: a one-litre bottle of water and a 330ml can of lemonade) and ask them to work out how much more liquid is in the larger container than in the smaller one.
Get children used to choosing units and tools
- How large the item is. If it’s a small length, for example, would millimetres be more appropriate than metres?
- What is the measurement for? For example, if it’s for baking it will need to be very precise and therefore standard units would be better than non-standard.
- Which unit is appropriate for capacity? For length? For weight?
- What type of equipment would you use to measure the length of the book? What unit of measurement would you measure it in?
- What type of equipment would you use to measure the weight of the pile of rice? What unit of measurement would you measure it in?