Stage 1 - measurement – length

Measure lengths using a one metre measure; count the number of informal units needed to equal one metre; measure lengths using a ten centimetre measure


Students can:

  • measure lengths using a one metre measure
  • count the number of informal units needed to equal one metre
  • measure lengths using a ten centimetre measure

Activities to support the strategies

Activity 1 – estimating one metre

Have students visualise how long a metre is. Ask how long is a metre?

  • Is it longer than a bed?
  • Is it longer than a pencil?
  • Is it longer than a garden hose?
  • Is it longer than a desk?
  • Is it longer than a cricket bat?

Students cut a piece of string one metre long. They look at how long the one metre piece of string or a one metre ruler is.

Students make a collection of objects around the classroom and in the playground that they estimate to be

  • less than one metre
  • about one metre
  • more than one metre along any side.

They use their one metre string to measure the length or width of each object. They choose some of these objects and make a poster by drawing the objects in the correct column.

For example:

Less than one metre About one metre More than one metre
enter answer enter answer enter answer

Discuss as a class:

  • Is one metre always a straight line?

Activity 2 – how many objects in a metre?

Display a variety of objects that are less than one metre in length. E.g. a pencil, an exercise book, a school shoe, a CD.

Students in pairs discuss how many of each item listed will fit along a one metre length of string. Students write their estimate in a table then check their estimate by placing a number of each object end to end, along the string, without gaps or overlaps.

Activity 3 – lengths and distances in metres (m)

Students in pairs estimate the length and distances in the table. They then use a metre ruler or one metre length of string to measure these lengths and distances. Students write the measurement in metres, by using the abbreviation, m.

Length and distances Estimate Total
a) the distance from the classroom to the canteen _m _m

Worksheet - lengths and distances in metres (m) (PDF 101.45KB)

The first seven lengths and distances which are provided in the table are:

  • the distance from the classroom to the canteen
  • the height of the doorway in the classroom
  • the height of a bookcase or shelves
  • the length of a whiteboard/blackboard
  • the length of the classroom
  • your height
  • the height of an adult.

Each pair of students can choose three other lengths to estimate and measure.

After measuring, students report back to the class and compare their results to other pairs of students.

Activity 4 – metres or centimetres?

Students are shown a variety of cards with drawings of different objects. They decide the most appropriate unit of measurement for these objects.

  • The objects that would be measured in centimetres should be placed in one group labelled 'cm'.
  • The objects that would be measured in metres should be placed in another group labelled 'm'.

As a class, discuss the answers. Are there objects that could be measured in centimetres and also in metres?

Worksheet - Metres or centimetres? (PDF 291.78KB)

Activity 5 –estimating ten centimetres

Students cut out a 10 centimetre measure from paper or ribbon. Fold the paper or ribbon into ten equal pieces, so they can use it to measure.

1. Give students a worksheet with a variety of lines drawn which are less than 10 cm long. They measure the length of each line using their 10 cm measure and write the measurement at the end of each line.

Make sure students place the beginning of the measure at the beginning of each line.

Worksheet - Length and distances (PDF 99.8KB)

2. Students use their one metre length of string from Activity 1 and cut the metre length of string into pieces that are 10 cm long. Paper streamer or newspaper strips that are one metre long could also be used. Students count the number of 10 cm pieces they cut and fill in the table.

Length of each piece _ cm
Number of pieces cut from 1 metre _ pieces

Place the pieces end to end in front of you.

Total length of all pieces in centimetres _cm
Total length of all pieces in metres _cm

Students complete the following sentences.

100 centimetres is the same length as 1 ________

1 metre equals __________ centimetres

1 m = _____________ cm

Arrange the 10 pieces in a different way so they touch but are no longer in a straight line. Try other arrangements.


  • Is the total length of all pieces still 100 cm or 1 m?
  • Does changing the arrangement of the 10 pieces change the total length used? Give your reasons.
  • Why do we need to use centimetres or metres to measure objects?


Australian curriculum

ACMMG061: Measure, order and compare objects using familiar metric units of length, mass and capacity

NSW syllabus

MA1-9MG: Measures, records, compares and estimates lengths and distances using uniform informal units, metres and centimetres

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