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Making a Yardstick - 5th grade edition

Create a yardstick and measure the volume of the classroom

Cycle Type

  Contextualized Math

This is the Contextualized Math cycle type. Cycle types used to organize cycles by categories.

Maker Mindset:

In maker tasks, students are invested in what they create, are interested in using what they’ve created, and in learning what classmates have created. This should be true in both making and in mathematics.

Makers are curious. They notice how things work and wonder “what will happen if …”. The same outlook opens new doors into mathematics. Noticing the structure of mathematical objects and wondering what will happen if you change terms or parameters opens avenues into finding solutions or building a mathematical model.

Maker tasks encourage trying out design ideas early to see if they are feasible. If they work, they are revised and improved upon. If they don’t, they are replaced by new ideas quickly without losing too much time pursuing dead-ends. This habit of mind also applies to mathematics. While solving math problems, students should test their ideas early. Will an idea lead to answers that is reasonable rather than too big or too small? If we are writing a general expression or equation, does it work for small cases? Can we tell without solving if a solution will be positive or negative?

CC Standard

5.MD.A.1, 5.MD.5(b), 5.OA.A.1, 5.OA.A.A.2

You can find descriptions of all common core math standards at Common Core Math Standards

Students will complete the yardstick challenge in which they make their own yardsticks and use them to measure the volume of the classroom. Through the challenge and 2 follow-up lessons, the mathematical purpose is greater understanding of linear, area, and volume measurement, understanding the concept of volume, and solving unit conversion problems within the same measurement system (5.MD.A.1, 5.MD.5(b)). They will engage in mathematical practices 5 (appropriate tools) and 6 (attending to precision).

Building a maker mindset (link)

Other mathematical purposes: decomposition of numbers, Write and interpret numerical expressions (5.OA.A.1 and 5.OA.A.2): 11/2 = 5.5, 8.5-5.5 = 3, 3*2 = 6.

Prior Experience

Measuring, addition, subtraction of fractions within ½ or ¼. Some experience with volume of a solid as the number of unit cubes that fit into the solid without gaps and overlaps.

Blank yardstick or meterstick



8 ½ in by 11 inch paper



Teacher observations

 Check for understanding