How Tall Is My Giraffe? Exploring Measurement

giraffe-cartoon_clipart_image_16A very interesting math lesson stemmed from a story I read toCyan Magenta Yellow Black my students about a king who got a giraffe as a birthday gift. The king challenged his townspeople, offering a reward to the first person who would be able to tell him how tall his giraffe was. The people set off to measure the giraffe in whichever way they could – none of the attempts were successful. Every failed try served as a great lesson about measurement do’s and don’t’s.

How Tall is My Giraffe?

IMG_20150303_111305After extracting important math concepts from this adventurous story, I introduced students to a giraffe of my own (my children’s old plush growth chart). I posed the same question to an eager-looking bunch (there was no gold incentive on my end though). With just enough direction, I let students explore solutions to this problem during Learning Centres time. Students showed remarkable interest in this challenge and began gathering all kinds of objects to use as measurement tools.

measuringBefore long, the carpet was filled with various IMG_20150303_133419objects: building blocks, popsicle sticks, snow pants, jackets, bottle caps, books, markers, etc. Students were so excited, they even suggested using me as a measuring tool. How could I say no to that? After a few chuckles and excited cheers, we sat IMG_20150303_125631down to reflect on our findings, which ultimately led to another great inquiry question? Why did we need so many cotton balls yet such few blocks? How does the size of the measuring tool affect the measurement?

We continued measuring different things around the room, using various non-standard and standard tools. We then went on to explore different measurement units, and the fun continued…

How long is the dinosaur? If we used shapes to measure, which shapes would we need more of? Less of? Why?IMG_20150304_103303

If one giraffe has 4 legs, how many legs do two giraffes have? Show your work.IMG_20150306_104546IMG_20150325_151948IMG_20150306_104042

IMG_20150306_104741 IMG_20150306_104701


How many links equal the weight of one giraffe? How about two giraffes?IMG_20150327_131659

How many cups of cheerios fit into a large pickle jar?IMG_20150421_131424IMG_20150421_131226

Which container holds more water?
Will the water in each container fit into the same size cup? 


How is measuring water different than measuring cheerios, a dinosaur, giraffes?

These questions and the follow-up activities were a great way to peek students’ curiosity and engage them in exploration about mass, capacity, volume, and linear measurement.

Some other fun measurement activities

Extending and measuring giraffe necks

IMG_20150325_152306Measuring in the Water Table


As part of our unit on measurement, we have also been exploring the concept of Time. The Face on the Clock is a poem I found online and shared with my students last week. I created several activities as an extension to this poem and to reinforce our learning. Feel free to download copies of them for your personal use in the classroom.


Have a great week!



4 thoughts on “How Tall Is My Giraffe? Exploring Measurement

    • That seems to be the best way, even for adult learners. My best school memories are from lessons that stretched beyond textbooks (though they are needed as well). Thank you for your feedback 🙂


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