Bring a watermelon to class and have students study it. Let each student estimate how big around the watermelon is by cutting a piece of yarn that shows his/her estimation. Now use a tape measure to measure around the middle of the watermelon. (Lead students into a discussion about why you did not use a yard stick to find the actual measurement.) Tape your tape measure onto the board and lay a strip of red paper alongside it to show the actual measurement you found. Invite each student to come forward and compare his/her piece of yarn to the red strip of paper. Record each student's name and the length of his/her yarn. Finally discuss results: Whose estimate was closest to the actual measurement?
To extend this lesson in measurement, you might challenge students to measure the distance around the watermelon with other non-standard units such as paper clips, a piece of lightweight jewelry chain, or Unifix cubes.
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Sue LaBella, Education World's early childhood editor, is a former teacher who loves writing activities and poems for young children. She lives in Connecticut with her family and her bulldog named Daisy.
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