Metric vs. Customary Units Lesson Plan: Which Should You Use?

Submitted by: Angela Watson

Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8

In this metric vs. customary units lesson plan, which is adaptable for grades 3-8, students use BrainPOP resources to explore the differences between metric and customary units of measurement. Students will investigate the reasons why two systems exist and why a universal system could be both beneficial and problematic. They will also explain how to select an appropriate system of measurement when solving real world problems.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Identify the differences between metric and customary units of measurement.
  2. Explore the reasons why two systems exist and why a universal system could be both beneficial and problematic.
  3. Explain how to select an appropriate system of measurement when solving real world problems.

Materials:

Vocabulary:

metric; customary; units

Preparation:

This lesson can serve as a springboard before students practice converting metric and customary units and pique student interest in the need for this skill.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Project the FYI Comic and discuss it with students. Do they agree that metric measurement doesn't feel like "real" measurement? Why or why not?
  2. Show the Graphic Organizer and pass out copies for students. Give students several minutes to pair up and discuss their answers for the t-chart, then facilitate a whole-class discussion, typing in students' responses.
  3. Have students flip their graphic organizer sheets over to show the Activity page. Set a timer for one minute and have students list as many different metric and customary units as they can think of. When the timer goes off, allow students to compare their lists with a partner.
  4. Invite students to think about the question at the bottom of the Activity page. Should people around the world use the metric system exclusively? Encourage students to discuss this with a partner or with the class.
  5. Show the Metric vs. Customary movie. Pause as needed to talk about key points.
  6. Revisit the question about whether the metric system should be universally adopted. Show students the Q&A and discuss why the United States has been slow to adopt the metric system.
  7. Have students write their answers to the question at the bottom of the activity sheet. Compile the responses and discuss how the majority of the class feels. Why might it be useful for students to be comfortable with both systems in their everyday life and future careers?

Extension Activity:

Use the Metric Unit and Customary Units movies to develop student understanding about both measurement systems and help them practice converting units.