Dads, Measuring & Failed Lessons

My life has been filled with all kinds of crazies: from wedding showers, to graduation parties, to end of the year evaluations at school, to finalizing grades, to getting our house sold.  Phew! Blogging has taken the back seat the last two weeks…

So here’s a little bit of what we’ve been up to in Room 210 between grades and such!

There are those lessons that you plan out in your head and they turn out better than you could’ve ever imagined…

For me this week, those were the Father’s Day lessons!

Last week was the week before Mother’s Day and we worked on making all kinds of special goodies for mom. {You can read all about it here.}

So, this past week we worked on goodies for Dad!  Since we don’t have school on Father’s Day {thank. goodness.}, we made gifts for dad before the end of the year.  I think it’s easiest to just do it the week after Mother’s Day and connect the two.  We wrote about dad, just like we did mom, and of course they turned out precious!

Then, we made a “wise guy” card for dad.  The kids REALLY loved making their owl their own.  They got to choose the wings and belly pattern and really got into adding details and settings around their owls.  I’ve done this project with my Sunday School preschoolers a few times, but it was fun doing it with my firsties because they were able to add more details than 3 and 4 year olds and the owls just took on personalities of their own!

This daddy must be a “night owl.” Ha!

And this little boy told me his dad loves listening to music!  Can you tell??

You can find all of these cute ideas, masters for the owl craft, plus more crafts for Dad in my I *heart* Dad Pack!  On Father’s Day, I’ll be doing some more crafts with my Sunday School babies, so I’ll post about more Father’s Day fun then.  Follow me on blog lovin’ or Facebook so you won’t miss it!

You can also click HERE to purchase the Mom and Dad Packets together at a discounted price.

Then, THEN, there are those lessons that you plan out in your head just perfectly and they turn out, well…let’s just say the wheels start to completely come off the train and you are just left wondering, “What just happened?”

For me this week, that was my measurement lesson!

I don’t know about you, but this time of year, I’m working harder than usual to find laying-on-the-floor-projects.  Seriously.  We do a lot of hands on in our room, a lot of group work, etc, but it May it seems like I always try to kick it up a notch because it takes SOOOOO much more to keep them engaged!!  Even simple buddy reading is much better laying on the floor!

So, during math this week, we worked on some “Royal Measurements.”  This was the perfect math tie in to our Cinderella Unit we’re chest deep into right now!  The objective for this activity was for students to see that there is a purpose for standard measurement.  They were supposed to be able to see this because the glass slippers and the crowns they measured with were different sizes.  So, when they measured their pencils, they would get 2 completely different measurements for slippers and crowns.

Well, that was the idea anyway…

What I found out quickly, was that we really needed to back up AGAIN and talk about how exactly to measure.  When the kids measured the little things they did great!

But when it came to measuring the desks and their friends, it completely bombed!

I purposefully did not give them enough slippers or crowns to measure their friends so that they would have to problem solve.  I was hoping they would discover the need for iteration or reusing the same units over and over to measure, but it failed in a BIG way.  I had kids measuring with slippers and crowns together.  I had kids using their fingers to “jump” the rest of the length to measure.  I had kids that spread out the 8 glass slippers evenly from foot to head and called the length 8 {even though there were huge gaping holes in between each slipper!}

So half way into this project we stopped and worked on measuring a longer length together on the carpet.  We sat in a circle and worked through each person’s incorrect strategies until finally–FINALLY someone said, “We could reuse the first slipper card at the end of the measuring and keep going!” Thank goodness for teamwork! Now I’m not promising that if we did this again, all of my kids would remember to iterate their standard units, but we certainly are one step closer.

Thankfully, I was able to save this failure of a lesson and get some good from it!  8 years later it happens a lot less, but it still happens a lot.  And each class is different.  Sometimes lessons bomb one year that went perfectly the year before!  Needless to say, the kids did not finish their Royal Measurements handout, but hopefully they gained much more from the lesson than if I’d just pushed through the failures to complete a silly recording sheet!

Modify and adjust, modify and adjust, modify and adjust…

This was a new activity I tried this year.  Would I do it again? Absolutely! But I’ve learned that I have a lot more to learn about how to teach kids measurement…it’s not as cut and dry as I thought.  Luckily, I have a 3 day training at the end of the month on measurement with a leading researcher in measurement.  I will definitely be putting some more measurement activities in each of our Common Core units so that students will get more hands on practice.  We already practice non-standard measurement and ordering lengths weekly with our Math Wall, but I’m seeing that it’s just not enough!

Have you ever had an ideal lesson that bombed in your room? I’d love to hear about it!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. I just found your blog. I will be purchasing your mystery problems and your fact fluency, number talks, and counting collections tomorrow when I head to school to work. I just have a question; when do you fit in lessons like measurement, into your schedule? Is it Mondays in the place of counting collections? I am new to first grade and am trying to figure it all out.

    1. Thank you! We so weekly practice during my math walk time on measurement, time, and shapes. Then during parts of the year, I might replace a math mysteries day or counting collections day with a full measurement lesson like the one in this blog. My math walls are up for purchase in my store too. I'm traveling and replying on my phone or else I'd link to some blogs on my math wall time. You can search for them though. Sorry, but I hope that helps!

    2. Yes, that helps! I am purchasing that too lol! One more question; what do you use to assess with. I definitely want to stay away from our math series! It is so confusing! Sorry to bother you. Thank you for your blog!

    3. This is the last question, I promise. I downloaded your math walls and I love them. Do you just do the same measurement problem every week?

    4. Sorry, I'm just now back in town and catching up! As far as assessment, I did have a file uploaded on TPT, but it is really outdated and I have changed quite a bit on it. One of my next projects is to work on creating a packet of assessments to use. You can use the Math Wall printout pages for assessing those skills. As far as the math mysteries/CGI, I chart my kids' strategies daily and then we give them math mysteries from all of the required problem types in our CC standards and assess based on how many they can successfully solve. We use a rubric…2 points for solving in an appropriate way (not subtracting for addition, etc…), 1 point for the correct answer, and 1 point for an accurate equation on problems our standards require equations for. Like I said, hopefully, in the next few weeks, I'll be putting out an assessment packet for all of this.

      On math wall and measurement…You will notice that each math wall alternates between the two measurement standards: order lengths and non-standard measurement. Each week I resize the items on the order lengths page to change it up, but we always order lengths. On the non-standard measurements, I just draw a different sized line each week. Same skill, just different answers. Hopefully, that makes sense! Thanks for your purchases! 🙂

    5. Thank you so much! That helps a lot! We have to do letter grades so it is so hard to get grades! I will definitely make a rubric to use with the math mysteries! I got my counting collections done last night and I am super excited about starting these this week!!!! I will most definitely be looking for your assessments packet! Thank you for your help! I read the CGI book this summer but didn't know where to start. I am so blessed to have found your blog!

    6. Sorry to bother you again. I don't have anyone that I know that is doing CGI in their classroom. If your students are modeling with counters or other manipulatives to solve the problem, do you have them draw the counters on the paper or just write what they used to show how they got their answer?

    7. No problem! When the model with counters or manips, I make them draw out exactly what they did with their counters. Nothing detailed…just circles or tally marks, but they need some sort of representation so I can tell and to give them a visual. I also require mine to write the numbers for how they counted, "label their counting," so I can see if how they count, so they can double check their counting, and so they can practice writing numbers correctly.