Body Metrics

The metric system is foreign and unfriendly to many literacy students. Rather than reinforcing their urge to convert everything back to familiar units, help them to start “thinking metric”.

You’ll need:

  • a metre stick
  • a ruler showing centimetres and millimetres
  • a sense of adventure


Find parts of your body that measure exactly:

1 metre

1 decimetre (10 centimetres)

1 centimetre

1 millimetre

Choose parts of your body that are appropriate to expose in public. Remember, you may want to use this measurement method in Canadian Tire.


Memorize these body metric references.

They will help you to become more familiar with the quantities metre, decimetre, centimetre, and millimetre.


Use your body metrics.

Measure the length of a desk, the room, or any handy object, using only your body. Now measure it again with a ruler. How accurate are your body metrics?

(Thanks to Karen McGregor for this idea.)


Apply this idea further.

Explore other quantities in the metric system using familiar items such as:

milk – litres

pop cans – millilitres

sugar – kilograms

box of crackers – grams

pills – milligrams


Session 5 Index