Relating real-life situations to mathematics is crucial, not only to the solidification of math concepts, but also in trying to make math more fun. Throughout the school year, we teachers are always creating and implementing unique and hands-on ways to teach. We can not only make math fun, but also electrifying and exciting!
One such example is relating the story “How Big is a Foot?” by Rolf Myller to the topic of measurement. The story is about a king who wants to have a bed made for his queen as a birthday present, but beds had not yet been invented. The carpenter and his apprentice, not having seen a bed before, were not sure of how big a bed should be. They asked the king, who decided to measure the queen’s height and width using the size of his foot. The queen’s measurements were then passed on to the carpenter and his apprentice who concluded that the bed must measure 3 feet wide and 6 feet long (including the crown, which she sometimes liked to wear while sleeping).
It turned out that the bed they made was much too small for the queen. The story poses the question, “Why was the bed too small for the queen?” We discussed this question in class and have the students use critical-thinking skills to solve this problem, which they did of course.
Once the story was finished, the students broke into groups, traced their own feet on to paper, and cut them out. They would use their foot as a measurement tool to measure certain objects and areas around the school, such as desks, hallways, the interactive white board, or even themselves! At the end of the class, we came back to discuss and compare the lengths and widths of various items while thinking about how students may have different or similar measurements. Reading and discussing “How Big is a Foot?” was a great way to introduce the concept of measurement!