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Exploring Height
With Abe Lincoln


  • History
  • Math


  • K-2
  • 3-5

Brief Description

How do students measure up to Abe Lincoln?





  • use rulers to measure the height of classmates in inches (or, if grade appropriate, in feet and inches).
  • compare their own height to Abe Lincoln's height.


    measurement, inches, feet, comparing, height, Abe Lincoln

    Materials Needed

  • pencil
  • ruler
  • sheet of craft/bulletin board paper equal in length to students height, one per student
  • life-size cutout of Abe Lincoln, in as much detail as you wish (I made mine out of bulletin board paper and hung it on the wall just as if he was standing)

    The Lesson

    At the start of this lesson, you might first review with students the units of measure with which they are familiar (for example, inches, centimeters, feet, and meters).

    Ask students if they know how tall they are After they have shared their thoughts, ask them if they know how tall Abe Lincoln was. After students have guessed, share with them that Abe was 6 feet 4 inches tall. According to some sources

    At 6 foot, 4 inches, Lincoln was the tallest president. [Source: http://www.ipl.org/div/potus/alincoln.html]

    Lincoln was 6 feet 4 inches tall, at a time when the median height of adult men in the United States was 5 feet 6 inches. He attained this height at age 17. Although an excellent athlete, he was lean all his life. At age 7 was described as a "tall spider of a boy" and as an adult he weighed between 160 and 185 pounds. [Source: http://www.doctorzebra.com/prez/g16.htm]

    If any personal description of me is thought desirable, it may be said, I am, in height, six feet, four inches, nearly; lean in flesh, weighing on an average one hundred and eighty pounds; dark complexion, with coarse black hair, and grey eyes -- no other marks or brands recollected. [Source: http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/speeches/autobiog.htm]

    Introduce your life-size cutout of Abraham Lincoln [see Materials Needed]. Have students stand next to the cutout so they can get a visual comparison of their height and Lincolns.

    Tell students that today they will be measuring their height and comparing it to Abe Lincoln's height.

    Arrange students into pairs. Give each pair of students two body-length sheets of bulletin board/craft paper. Instruct each pair of students to choose one of them to lie on the floor while the other traces the outline of his or her body. When completed, the students can change places; the tracer becomes the one who is traced.

    Demonstrate how to use a ruler to measure the height of each student by measuring the traced outline of the body. Students will measure from head to toe in inches. (Older students might convert that height to feet and inches. This is an opportunity for teachers of younger students to introduce the concept that 12 inches = 1 foot.) Each student should write his/her height on their cutout.

    Next, have students subtract their height from that of Abe Lincolns to determine the difference in heights. Younger students will subtract their height in inches from Lincolns height in inches (76 inches). Older students might subtract their height in feet and inches from Lincolns height (6 feet 4 inches).

    Students might decorate (dress up) their traced bodies and cut them out. Hang their cutouts in the hallway next to that of Lincolns. Hang the students math alongside their cutouts under a catchy heading such as How Do We Measure Up to Abe Lincoln?


    During the lesson, the teacher can observe the class for participation, and for comprehension of the measurement opportunity. Review concepts as needed.

    Submitted By

    Megan Mulcahy, Forest Acres Elementary School in Easley, South Carolina

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    Updated 02/12/2015