Length is measured in units. We can use non-standard units, like footsteps or handspans, but when we really need to be accurate, it is better to use standard units that everyone understands and agrees on. These might be metric units (like centimetres) or imperial units (like miles).
Teach your children about the length using our handy topic guide!
- Challenge your children to find items longer than a metre, using a piece of string as a measure.
- Children use their estimation and measuring skills in this activity, using body parts (including cubits).
- Use this sheet when your children need to work on converting length between meters and centimeters.
- Athletics lessons are perfect for measuring length. Give the children the opportunity to measure how far they can jump or throw a piece of equipment. This idea from NRICH is a good discussion starter.
- Encourage children to compare lengths in this simple paper cutting activity from Oak National Academy.
- Children can use this sheet to work in pairs to measure their steps They can then create a graph showing how far they travel over 10 steps.
- In this activity, children challenge each other to draw accurate lines.
- Our Length Pack contains all you need to teach length, including a topic guide and plenty of activity resources.
- An inch is an imperial unit of measure, equivalent to 2.54cm. In the 14th century, it was defined as the length of 3 grains of barley put end to end.
- The metric system (using millimetres, centimetres, metres and kilometres to measure length) was first developed in France during the 18th century.
- Almost every country in the world uses the metric system today.
- The earliest measures of length were based on the human body. A cubit, a measure which was used by the ancient Greeks and Egyptians, is the length from elbow to fingertips.
- Some countries, including the UK, use miles to measure distance on maps and roads. A mile is equal to 1.6 kilometres.
Measuring With a Ruler
This short video shows children how to measure accurately with a ruler.
Running time: 2:44
How to Convert Measurements
A clear explanation showing how to convert between metric units, for older children.
Running time: 12:22
If the Shoe Fits
Younger children will enjoy this story about two mice working out if the shoe they find will fit into their den.
Running time: 6:37
Are you teaching your children about other topics? Explore our full collection of guides!