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Ministry of Education.

Making benchmarks - length

Adapted from NZ Maths unit Making benchmarks

Adaptions for ESOL students: Christine Jones


Year: 3-6

Level: 2

Duration: 1 week

Achievement objectives  

Measurement, Level 2:

  • demonstrate knowledge of the basic units of length by making reasonable estimates.

Learning outcomes

Students will be able to:

  • demonstrate a personal benchmark (for example, 1 stride - 1 metre, arm span- 1/2 metre) for 1 metre, 1/2 metre
  • identify and use external benchmarks (for example, visualising 3x30cm ruler lengths for 1 metre) to carry out practical measuring tasks
  • discuss the need for having and using standard measurements of length
  • make sensible estimates of lengths of given objects.

Language learning focus

 Focus on building vocabulary and mathematical literacy

 Students will:

  • learn  key vocabulary (31 kB)
  • develop an understanding of the use of benchmarks in measuring by teacher led discussion accompanied by practical work using benchmarks in measuring
  • practise language structures to do with measuring.

Teacher background reading

A description of the mathematics explored in the unit

Children need to be able to see the need to move from using non standard measures of length to standard measures of length. The motivation for this will arise out of students comparing differences in the length of their hand spans etc. From this the need for standard measurement will become evident.

Students also need to develop personal benchmarks with which to measure various objects in their daily lives. Their personal benchmarks need to gradually relate more to standard measures such as metres.

The ultimate aim is for students to be able to choose appropriately from a range of strategies including estimation, knowledge of benchmarks, and knowledge of standards measures in order approach various measuring tasks with confidence and accuracy.


  • Rulers, tape measures
  • Metre stick
  • Various non standard measuring equipment, for example unfix cubes, cuisenaire rods

Teaching sequence

Learning task 1

Learning task 2

Learning task 3

Learning task 4

Home link

This week at school we are learning to estimate the size of a metre. Ask your child to identify and record the items in your home that they estimate to be around 1 metre in length. Then encourage children to use their personal benchmark to check and see if it is indeed around 1 metre in length.

Figure It Out links

Some links from the Figure It Out series which you may find useful are:

  • Measurement, Level 2-3, Stretching It Out, p. 1.
  • Measurement, Level 2-3, Mighty Metres, p. 3.
  • Link, Years 7-8, Algebra, Geometry and Measurement, Judgment Calls, p. 12.

Published on: 09 Jan 2018