I started by reading Actual Size by Steve Jenkins. This fits nicely with language arts since we are focusing on nonfiction in both reading and writing at the moment. If you are not familiar with the book, it features illustrations of animals drawn to actual size, hence the name. Or at least what will fit on the page. The Giant Squid page just has the eye because that's all that will fit! The story helps getting the kids thinking about how big 1 foot is compared to 59 feet.
After the story, I gave pairs of students cards with a picture of one animal from the book with a blurb about the animal's actual size. The students read the card, then used rulers and sidewalk chalk to draw and label a line the same size as their animal. They had a BLAST, and seeing the lines on the sidewalk really helped them understand what 1 foot, 5 feet, 15 feet, and so on would look like. I noticed they were much better at estimating measurements on other assignments after this activity than before. Here are some pictures:
9 foot Ostrich
I think these guys are working on the African Elephant. While working, one of the students remembered a book we read comparing African and Asian Elephants. Even though we read it in November, he remembered that Asian Elephants were smaller :)
I was surprised how big the ant eater could get.
"Look how big this crocodile is Ms. Moler!"
Not sure what this is supposed to be. I'll have to check the cards again.
Wouldn't want to meet this Tarantula in a dark alley!
I gave the 59 foot Giant Squid to my hardest working student who is always an early finisher. She was honored to have the task. After she finished the line, I had my class lay down head-to-toe so you could get a better idea of the 'actual size' of this ocean mammoth! We had so much fun!
Ahh! Giant Squid!!!