4th Grade Math : Unit #1 - Getting to Know You- First Days of School : Lesson #2

Time Capsule

Objective: Students will be able to measure length to the nearest 1/4 and 1/2 inch while working to develop class norms for partner work.
Standards: MP1 MP3
Subject(s): Math
60 minutes
1 Warm Up - 10 minutes

I begin by asking asking students what they know about time capsules.  Next, I show some photos of items there were found in a 100 year old time capsule opened in Oklahoma in April 2013. (Note, I don't have any ties to this particular time capsule, it was just one that was recent and had information available)

Then, I lead a brief conversation about the differences between now and 100 years ago. e.g. technology, transportation, food.  

2 Concept development - 35 minutes

I begin this lesson by telling students that they will be gathering data to put in a personal one year time capsule.  I then ask students to predict, in inches, how much they think they will grow this year.  Students  record their predicted number on a blank white piece of paper.

Students work with partners for this activity.   Each pair needs yarn or string, a ruler, scissors, pencil, and two pieces of white paper.   I tell students that their task is to find out how tall they are measured to the closest 1/2 or 1/4 inch. I ask students how the string and ruler can be useful tools to do that. 

I model some inaccurate ways of measuring and have students tell what is not accurate about my method and/or why they shouldn't replicate my method. I remind students that they can use the string or hold the string at the top of their head and cut it at the floor, or where there feet are and then measure the string.  

I briefly review and model how to measure a length of string longer than a ruler.

Student partners take turns helping each other hold the string, cut, and measure accurately.  Both students should measure the string together and agree on the number.  Students record their height on their white paper. As students measure, I circulate around the room and assist as necessary.  I am not worried if students can not accurately measure to the nearest 1/2 or 1/4 inch at this time. Students will have several lesson later in the spring to refine and practice measuring. 

When students are finished measuring the string, they tape their string to the piece of paper with their recorded measurement and place in our time capsule box.  We will open this box at the end of the year to see how much students grew.

Pleasantly surprised!

As you can see in my video reflection, I felt very good about today's lesson and the prior knowledge my students have.

The students did an excellent job coming up with group norms to add to our list. Group Norms established from this activity include; Participate, don't judge your partner, no put downs, and don't take over.  These were added to a class poster that also has listed stay on task, no ignoring, and no arguing.  

I was pleasantly surprised that most of the students could accurately use the ruler and measure to the nearest half and quarter inch. :)


3 Student debrief - Wrap up - 10 minutes

After students tape their piece of string to their piece of paper, they predict how many inches they think they'll grow this year and record that on the paper too. I then collect the papers for our time capsule to be opened in June near the last day of school. 

Next, I ask the students to think about the group norms established from the previous day.

No interrupting


Stay on task

I lead a brief discussion about what was helpful about working with a partner in this activity. I ask if any other group norms should be added to our list.