Math at Home Math Access for Teachers
and Home Child Care Providers

CME Group Community Foundation



How Big Is A Foot?

Using butcher paper, children will trace their bodies and measure their height and width with their feet.

Content Area Standard Target
  • Measurement
  • Data Analysis and Probability
  • Understand measureable attributes of objects and the units, systems, and processes of measurement
  • Apply appropriate techniques, tools, and formulas to determine measurement
  • Formulate questions that can be addressed with data and collect, organize, and display relevant data to answer them
  • Develop and evaluate inferences and predictions that are based on data
  • Recognize the attributes of length, volume, weight, area, and time
  • Understand how to measure using nonstandard and standard units
  • Select an appropriate unit and tool for the attribute being measure
  • Measure with multiple copies of units of the same size, such as paper clips laid end to end
  • Use tools to measure
  • Pose questions and gather data about themselves and their surroundings
  • Represent data using concrete objects, pictures, and graphs
  • Discuss events related to students’ experiences as likely or unlikely
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Obtain materials Obtain the Materials
  • A roll of butcher paper
  • Markers or crayons
  • The book, How Big is A Foot? by Rolf Myller 


Note: Small parts create a choking hazard for children. Make sure that all materials you choose to use for an activity or lesson with children meet safety requirements. Small parts are not appropriate for children who are 5 years of age or younger.

Introduce the activity Introduce the Activity
  1. Ask the children to look at their feet.  Explain that they will be using their feet to measure themselves; their height and width.
  2. Explain to the children that you are going to read a book about measurementExplain that the book is about a king who thinks of a lovely present to give his wife, the queen.  But, there’s a problem with the present.  Explain to them that they will need to figure out what the problem is and predict what will happen with the king and his gift to the queen.
  3. Read the book, How Big Is A Foot?  Stop at the page where the question is asked, “Why was the bed too small for the queen?”
  4. Finish the story and discuss how the problem was solved.
Engage the children Engage the Children
  1. Explain that the children are going to use their own feet to measure their width and height and decide on a measurement for their own beds.
  2. Using the butcher paper, have the children trace each other’s body onto the paper.  Then cut a rectangle (the bed) around the body outline.  The children can decorate themselves and a bed in the background of the body.
  3. First, having the children use their own feet, have them measure their width. Then have them measure their height. Write down their findings on a piece of paper. 

Additional Extensions

  • Give the children rulers and let them use rulers to measure the width and length of themselves. 
  • Have the children predict how many feet wide they are and how many feet long they are.
Encourage vocabulary Encourage Vocabulary
  • Measure – Use of standard units to find out size or quantity in regard to length, breadth, height, area, mass, weight, volume, capacity, temperature, and time (e.g., "Let’s measure the width of your bed.")
  • Width – The extent from side to side or breadth (e.g., "Measure the width of the bed.")
  • Height – The measurement from top to bottom (e.g., "Today we are going to measure the height of our beds.")
  • Small – Decreased in size (e.g., "The Queen’s bed is small.")

Glossary of MATH vocabulary

Make adaptations Make Adaptations

Supporting Children at Different Levels

Toddlers   Pre-K

Toddlers may:

  • Have difficulty measuring with their own feet.
  • Have difficulty grasping the idea of measuring a bed for their cut-out bodies to lie on.
Vertical line

Pre-K Children may:

  • Be able to easily use their feet to measure the length and width of the bed.
  • Easily calculate and measure the length and width of the bed.

Home child care providers may:

  • Trace and cut out multiple copies of the children’s feet so that they can line them up, one in front of the other and keep better track and organize how many feet it takes to measure the width and length of the bed needed.
  • Have the children measure themselves.  “I am ________ feet high and ________ feet wide.”


Home child care providers may:

  • Give the children rulers and let them use the rulers to measure the width and length of themselves. 
  • Have the children predict how many feet wide they are and how many feet long they are.


Books Books
  • How Big is A Foot by Rolf Myller (New York: Random House Children's Books, 1991)
  • Tall and Small: A book about Height by Kate Gilbert Phifer (New York: Walker & Co., 1987)
  • Length by Henry Arthur Pluckrose (Chicago, IL: Children’s Press, 1995)
  • Size by Henry Arthur Pluckrose (Chicago, IL: Children’s Press, 1995)
Music and movement Music and Movement
Outdoor connections Outdoor Connections
  • Having the children use their own feet, measure the perimeter of areas outside.  You can, either draw with chalk, rectangles and squares on the pavement outside and have the children measure those or measure the perimeter of the playground or squares on the sidewalk.

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