I'm going to be teaching measurement to 4th grade students and I want something a little more hands on. I believe that they would enjoy that more. So any helpful ideas or things you think would work will be appreciated.
"What type of things are measured? In What units? and "Where do these units come from?" These are good jump off points for this age group. After that decide as a group (or small groups) the development of your own measurement system. The discussion of a standard will lead to 'problems'. As an example if a decision is to make a linear measurement system you will need a standard 'unit of measure' one that the teacher will hold as the 'gold standard' and accurate copies to be used in the 'field'. Example: Brand x paperclip. Keep the standard and hand out a copy to each child/group to use. Decide on a name for the standard. (say clip') Ask for dimensions of the desk/table in terms of clips. Ask for other measurements, small or large .. the desk...the room, the hallway, the length of your fingernail, hair. etc. The need will come apparent for multiples and divisions of units, sticks/rulers and decisions as to how many divisions/multiples and their names. Create tables of individual units ie. x clips = 1 dip, etc. These choices will affect the 'ease' of conversion between other systems later on in the project. Carry this to an appropriate endpoint. Extend to liquid measurements (later to weights etc. and the obvious need need to make a unit that is not 'long' but can contain a liquid...think thimble etc. Take it to appropriate end point but be sure to include conversions to and from your system to inches, cm. etc