Grades/Level: Lower Elementary (K–2)
Subjects: Visual Arts, English–Language Arts, Mathematics
Time Required: Single Class Lesson
30 minutes in class and 15 minutes homework
Author: Janet Brown, Betty Chin, and Eleanor Mak, Kindergarten Teachers, Clover Avenue Elementary, Los Angeles Unified School District


Curriculum Home
Lesson Plans

Lesson Overview

Students participate in a measurement lesson focusing on length. They use their feet as the unit of measurement for furniture in the classroom and at home. They then sketch the pieces of furniture they measured.

Learning Objectives

Students should be able to:
• estimate the length of objects.
• use shapes and patterns to create sketches.


• Reproduction of a bed from the Getty collection
• Pencils, crayons, and colored pencils
• Rulers or measuring tape
• Worksheet: "Measure Your Desk"
• Worksheet: "Measure Your Bed"

Lesson Steps

1. Review different units for measuring length, such as hands, feet, inches, etc. Ask students, "Why is a foot on a ruler called a 'foot'?" Explain that this unit of measurement comes from the length of the foot, and that many cultures have used a person's foot as a way to measure length. You can also tell students about "hands" used to describe the height of a horse. Explain that in the past the length of a yard was determined by the length of the king's outstretched arms. So when a new king ascended the throne, the standard changed.

2. Place two chairs about 10 feet apart. Ask students to estimate the length of the space between the two chairs (Ask, "How many feet apart are these two chairs?") Demonstrate how to measure the length between the two chairs by using your own feet. Carefully measure with the back of the heel touching the tip of the toe each time you measure. Let students know how many "feet" are between the chairs.

3. Measure the space between the chairs in feet with a ruler or measuring tape. Ask the students to discuss why the two measurements are different. Remind students to use complete sentences when answering. Explain to the class that we measure objects most commonly in inches as the smallest unit. Explain that 12 inches make 1 foot and 3 feet make a yard.

4. Ask students to estimate how long one side of the classroom is, based on their own feet. Have one student demonstrate how to measure the room with his or her own feet. Make sure to reinforce correct measurement method with heel-to-toe, heel-to-toe, etc. Then estimate how long the classroom is with a measuring tape. Measure the length and compare it to the estimates and the student foot measurement.

5. Have desk partners work in pairs to measure their own desks. Have partners use the "Measure Your Desk" worksheet to estimate and measure the desk's length and draw a picture of it. Have one student use his or her own feet and have the other student observe to make sure the estimate is done correctly and record the length. Have students switch jobs. Have pairs share their findings with the class. Discuss the different results, pointing out that some people have smaller or larger numbers because they have different-sized feet. Have students measure the desk with a ruler or measuring tape and record the measurement on the worksheet.

6. Show students an image of the bed from the Getty Museum. Ask students to identify the object. Have a discussion about the bed as a functional piece of art. Define the term pattern and ask students to identify where they see the use of pattern in the bed. Ask, "Do you think this bed is bigger or smaller than your desk? Why? Do you think it is bigger or smaller than your bed at home? How many feet long do you think this bed is?" Have students estimate the length of the bed in their own feet.

7. Explain to students that their homework will be to draw their own bed, using pattern, and to discover how long it is so that they can compare it to the Getty bed later. Explain that the class will measure the bed at the museum on a field trip using their own feet.

8. Use the measurements students made for homework to begin a discussion on the differences and similarities between their beds and the Getty bed(s). Share the actual measurement of the Getty bed(s) with the class to help facilitate the discussion. Explain that the mattress of the Lit à la Polonaise is only about five feet long. Back then, people in France slept propped up in bed. Also back then, visitors would come visit you in your bedroom, where you would sit up in bed or at your dressing table. Ask students: How do you use your bed? Is it similar to or different from the way the French used these beds? Look at the colors and patterns on the French bed. How is it similar to or different from your bed? Look at the shape of the bed. How is it similar to or different from yours?

Bed / J.-B. Tilliard
Bed (Lit à la Turque), Jean-Baptiste Tilliard, about 1760

Standards Addressed

Common Core Standards for English Language Arts

Grades K–2

K.1 Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about kindergarten topics and text with peers and adults in small and larger groups.
K.4 Describe familiar people places, things, and events, with prompting and support, provide additional detail.
1.1 Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 1 topics and text with peers and adults in small and larger groups.
1.3 Ask and answer questions about what a speaker says in order to gather additional information or clarify something that is not understood.
1.4 Describe familiar people places, things, and events, with relative details expressing ideas and feelings more clearly.
1.6 Produce complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation. (See grade 1 Language standards 1 and 3 for specific expectations.)
2.3 Ask and answer questions about what a speaker says in order to clarify comprehension, gather information, or deepen understanding of a topic or issue.
2.4 Tell a story or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking audible in coherent sentences.

Common Core Standards for Mathematics

Grades K–2

Measurement & Data
K.MD.A.1 Describe measurable attributes of objects, such as length or weight. Describe several measurable attributes of a single object.
1.MD.A.2 Express the length of an object as a whole number of length units, by laying multiple copies of a shorter object (the length unit) end to end; understand that the length measurement of an object is the number of same-size length units that span it with no gaps or overlaps. Limit to contexts where the object being measured is spanned by a whole number of length units with no gaps or overlaps.
2.MD.A.1 Measure the length of an object by selecting and using appropriate tools such as rulers, yardsticks, meter sticks, and measuring tapes.

Visual Arts Standards for California Public Schools


Artistic Perception
1.1 Recognize and describe simple patterns found in the environment and in works of art.

Historical and Cultural Context
3.1 describe functional and non-utilitarian art seen in daily life; that is works of art that are used versus those that are only visual.

Language Arts Standards for California Public Schools


Written and Oral English Language Conventions
1.1 Recognize and use complete sentence structure when speaking.

Listening and Speaking
1.1 Understand and follow one-and two-step oral directions.
1.2 Share information and ideas, speaking audibly in complete, coherent sentences.

Mathematics Standards for California Public Schools


Number Sense
3.1 Recognize when an estimate is reasonable.

Math Reasoning
1.2 Use tools and strategies, such as manipulatives or sketches, to model problem.

"The children really enjoyed measuring different furniture with their feet. They also enjoyed drawing furniture and sharing their drawings. As far as measurement/ accuracy, we needed to practice the heel-to-toe method at school many times. The children were excited to see a "fancy" bed. It is a more positive experience if the picture of the Getty bed is printed larger than a half sheet, so that more details can be seen."
—Janet Brown, Betty Chin, and Eleanor Mak