Measuring Myself

Compare the relative length of body parts to other objects using words such as longer or shorter.

Low teacher engagement


  • One longer and shorter T-chart or set of label cards: You can use tape instead to make a longer and shorter T-chart on a table or the floor, or create sorting buckets labeled longer and shorter
  • One set of body part cards
  • Optional: One basket of one to five objects of varying length for comparison: Use this option if you don’t want students to move around the room to find their own comparison objects

Setup — less than 5 minutes

  • Gather the materials.
  • Set out the body part cards face down in a pile on the center of the table.


  1. Students take one body part card from the pile. The body part card tells them what part of their own body they will use to measure.
  2. Students look around the room or in the basket for at least one thing that is longer than the body part and one thing that is shorter than the body part.
  3. Students put each object on the corresponding section of the T-chart. If the object cannot be placed on the chart, students can draw a picture of the object and place that on the chart.

Checks for Understanding

To deepen children’s learning about early math concepts, talk and ask questions while doing this activity together. Here are some examples to get you started.

Relative Length
  • “Is this object longer/shorter than or the same length as your arm?”
  • “Is that pen longer than your finger?”
  • “You found three objects that are shorter than your arm. Which one is the shortest?”
  • “Do you think this will be longer or shorter than your arm?” After comparing the object to their arm: “Which one is longer? Did you guess correctly?”
  • “What is something you think will be shorter than your leg?”

Activity Modifications

Once you have tried out the activity, here are some other things you can do. Try these modifications to keep the activity interesting and challenging for students all year.

Make It Easier
  • If students have difficulty finding objects, use interlocking cubes or blocks to make an object that is longer or shorter.
  • To support accurate measurement and comparison, help students make sure the ends of their body part and the object are lined up side-by-side.
  • If you don’t want students to wander around the room or if they have trouble finding objects, give them a basket with a collection of objects or ribbons of varying lengths from which to choose.
  • Look for things that are longer and shorter than a partner’s body parts instead of their own.
  • Give students an object or have them select an object, and then sort the pile of body part cards based on which body parts are longer and shorter than the object.
  • After students have found several things, put them in order them from shortest to longest.
  • Choose body parts that require at least two people to measure, such as a whole arm or body.