Can you find some objects that are about a metre long? How many hand-spans make a metre?

For this activity you need lots of old newspapers, and some sticky tape.

Make 1 metre length sticks using newspaper. Tightly roll 8 large sheets of newspaper, 4 and 4 placed as in the photograph, so that the length of the stick when the paper is rolled up will be 1 metre. Follow the instructions given in the Notes for Teachers.

You might like to practise this first, but it’s important that you make a metre stick  in front of the learners. So that the learners make discoveries for themselves and enjoy the surprise, it is important not to show them a finished product at the start.

Using your first metre stick as a template, work with the learners to make 15 to 20 more metre lengths (one for each pair of learners or group of 3). Alternatively your class may be able to use metre sticks made by some of the older learners in your school.

Once each group has a metre measuring stick, challenge them with some of the following activities.


Find things that are longer than a metre. Find things that are shorter than a metre.

Can you find something that is exactly one metre in length?

Are the learners in your group shorter than, taller than or exactly one metre in height?

If you stretch your arms out wide, is it a metre from fingertip to fingertip or more or less than a metre?

How many hand-spans make a metre?   How many footsteps make a metre?

How many… ? Think of other body measurements you could explore.

Who is the tallest person in the class? Who is the shortest person in the class?

What about your teacher; is the teacher shorter than, taller than or exactly one metre in height?

Can we stand in a line in order of height?


Estimating activity Ask the learners: “How many metre sticks do you think we need, to get from one end of the classroom to the other?”

Ask the learners to keep their idea in their head (so that everyone does their own thinking), and ask them to put their hands on their head when they have made a decision.

Start measuring the room, one metre stick at a time. Begin by getting one learner to hold the first metre stick horizontally against one wall. Add one metre stick at a time, with the learners counting them as the line of learners holds them in place across the room until the sticks reach approximately half way.

Ask if they want to change their estimate – hands on heads once they’ve made a decision. Ask how many MORE sticks will be needed to reach the far wall. Then finish the line of metre sticks. (When finished, you will have a line of metre sticks end to end, each one held by one learner, to make it easier to count.)

Depending on the experience of the learners, discuss how to describe and measure the length of the “extra bit”.

Is the length of the classroom the same in the other direction?

What else can we measure in this way?


The next stage is to disuss the need to make more accurate measurements and to have standard units of measurement and to introduce the idea of centimetres and metres as standard measures of length. Mark the sticks into 10 centimetre lengths and then mark one section into 1 centimetre lengths so that learners can measure objects around them in centimetres.

Click here for the Notes for Teachers

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