You’ve probably heard these statements once or twice in your math class. “When will I need to know this?” or “Am I ever going to use this in real life?” Showing students that they definitely need to know or understand certain math concepts can be simple. Just show them exactly when they will use those skills using real-life situations. For example, teaching how to convert measurements from one unit to another may not get your students excited. However, when you throw something in like ice cream, you’ve got their attention. (Keep reading for the ice cream details!) I’m sharing fun ways to teach converting measurements plus some really helpful resources!
Converting measurements is one of the most useful math skills that can be applied in almost any setting. Plus, helping students understand the differences in metric and customary measurements can be both a fun math lesson and also a history lesson. (If you aren’t familiar yourself with the reasons the US never converted to the metric system, here’s a great article).
A fun way to introduce this topic would be to ask your students a silly question such as, “If we were offered free ice cream for our class but had to choose – everyone gets either 1 quart of ice cream or 1 pint of ice cream – which should we choose?” Questions like these help students realize that they most definitely need to understand measurements and conversions, especially if they want to ensure that everyone gets the most amount of ice cream! Here are more fun ways to teach metric and customary measurements and measurement conversions.
Recipe Conversion Activity
A great way to give students extra practice in converting measurements is to provide them with a recipe in specific units. Then, give them measuring tools in another unit. The students will need to convert measurements in order to prepare the recipe accurately.
For example, providing a recipe only in teaspoons and giving them only tablespoons to use for measuring.
Be sure to check your measuring tools, as many measuring cups and spoons today are labeled with both metric and customary units. You’ll want to provide only one form of measurement.
If you aren’t able to physically prepare the recipe in the classroom, you could also ask students to bring in their favorite family recipe and have them convert it to alternate units of measure.
Understanding the relationship between units of measurement is important. Knowing when to use a specific unit for a specific item is even more important. Helping students understand different units of measure and how they relate to everyday objects can be easily demonstrated with a measurement sort.
For this activity, you simply need several household or classroom objects of varying weights or measurements. Then, you’ll decide on the units you will be using to sort. For example, gather classroom items, make one area of the room for items that should be measured by pounds. Make another area for items that would best be measured by grams. You can sort into as many different units as you’d like. You can also recreate this activity with cards instead of using the actual items.
Converting Measurements Matching Games & Board Games
There are many great board games and puzzle activities to reinforce converting measurements. The extra practice will be much more fun when incorporated into a game. I’ve created several resources that are perfect for providing students with extra practice.
The Measurement Conversions Metric Units Board Game is a fun way to practice converting metric units of length, mass, and capacity. This activity is perfect for small group or partner work.
Simply print the gameboard and add dice. You can even laminate the gameboard and easily reuse it year after year in your classroom!
If you’re looking for a differentiated activity, this Measurement Conversions Spin and Answer is perfect! It includes 7 no prep printable game boards that cover:
- Time (min, sec, hr)
- Metric Length (km, cm, mm, m)
- Metric Volume (L, mL)
- Metric Weight (kg, mg, g)
- Customary Length (mi, yd, in, ft)
- Customary Volume (gal, qt, c, pt)
- Customary Weight (lb, oz, ton)
I also have some fun matching games for both metric units and customary units. If you’re looking for an activity to get kids out of their seats and practicing measurement conversions, try around-the-room room activities for customary units and metric units.
Give Instructions to Build Something
Similar to the recipe conversion activity, giving your students instructions to create or build something in multiple units of measurement is a great way to practice converting measurements. Perhaps you give them balsa wood or craft sticks. Create instructions on building a structure or object with the materials. Use multiple units of measurement in your instructions but only provide the students with a tool in one unit.
This allows the students to practice converting measurements and understanding how the units relate to one another.
Songs and Raps to practice converting measurements
I absolutely love using Flocabulary videos in my classroom. There are so many topics covered and students love the catchy songs. There are a few great songs on the website for units of measure and converting measures. I suggest bookmarking The Metric System and Capacity & Weight for teaching measurements and conversions.
If you aren’t familiar with the Flocabulary site, they offer lyric pages so your students can sing or rap along with the songs. There are also vocab cards, quizzes, and read & respond activities when you have an account. They’re great for learning new math vocabulary terms or tricky concepts!
There are so many unique and hands-on ways to help your students practice converting measurements. Stressing the importance of understanding how to convert measurements and when they’ll use this skill (like calculating the correct amount of ice cream!) is important.
Also, being sure to allow them plenty of time to practice with different units of measure will help them be successful! Consider having measurement tools in the classroom that they can use on their own to experiment with different units of measure.
What are some fun ways that you teach converting measurements? Share how you help your students practice measurement conversions in the comments!