4. Long and Short

A girl holding a rope.

Lali is selling things at her father's shop. A farmer comes to buy rope.

A man asking the girl for 7 arms of rope.

Can you give me 7 arms of rope?

Here is your 7 arms of rope.

Man and girl discussing the length of the rope.

But this is only 6 arms long.

Why don't you measure your arm with this rope and take 7 times of that length?

Man measuring the length of the rope with his arm.

So, the farmer measures his arm with the rope and Lali gives him 7 times that much rope.

Measure your arm and your mother's arm. What is the difference?

  • Children should be encouraged to look around and see how lengths of different things are measured in different ways using local or non-standard units. For example, rope, garlands or cloth may be sold by the cubit, handspan, fingers, etc. They also need to do activities of measuring lengths (and distances) with their own body parts.

How Many?

A boy crossing the road.

In how many steps will Dorji cross the road?

Cups placed on a table.

How many cups can be placed in a line on this table?

Pots placed below the tree.

How many pots can be placed to reach the tree branch?

A shirt hanging on a wire.

How many shirts can be hung on this wire?

How Much is a Centimetre (cm)?

A lizard measured with a match stick.

The matchstick is 4 centimetres long.

The die is 1 centimetre from every side.

The lizard is 13 centimetres long.

The leaf is _____ centimetres long.

The wax colour is _____ centimetres long.

Now, look at a scale that you find in a geometry box. How many centimetres does it have? _____

The small scale that you mostly use in school is like this one.

Things drawn near a small scale to measure their length.

Is it easier to start measuring from the 0 mark? Look at the things drawn near the scale and find out their lengths.

  • What are the little lines on the scale used for?
  • Look for things that are
  • About 10 centimetres long
  • Between 10 and 20 centimetres long
  • Less than 1 cm long.

  • Draw some of them here.

Space to draw objects.        

A giraffe and a mouse.

Mouse! Where are you?

I am here

How Big is My Hand?

A girl showing her hand.

Measure the length of your thumb and your little finger. Use the scale on this page.

Which is longer? Thumb or little finger?

Bring a measuring-tape to your class.

Guess the length of different parts of your body and check if your guess is correct. You can use a scale, string, measuring tape etc.

A girl measuring a boy's hand with a measuring tape. A boy measuring his head with a measuring tape. A girl measuring the length of fingers of the boy with a scale.

Think – How will you know the number of centimetres if you measure with a rope, shoe-string, thread etc.?

A girl measuring a boy's hand with a measuring tape. My Measurement My Friend’s Measurement

Nose __ centimetres __ centimetres

Around the wrist __ centimetres __ centimetres

Ear __ centimetres __ centimetres

Hand (tip of  __ centimetres __ centimetres

middle finger

 to wrist)

Compare your measurement with your friends.

A girl measuring a boy's head with a scale.

Who has the biggest head and who has the smallest head? _____

Who has the longest hand (from middle finger to wrist)? _____

A girl measuring the length of the boy's finger with a scale.

Which is longer? Your ear or your nose?  _____

Is any of your nails more than 1 centimetre long? _____

Gibli and the Grains

Ant Gibli has to reach the grains. She is looking for the shortest road. Can you tell her which is the shortest?

An ant has to reach the grains and there are four roads, Road A, Road B, Road C and Road D.

Can you draw a road shorter than these? What is the length of that road? _____

It is more important for children to be able to get an estimate of a metre as related to known things, such as, their own heights, rather than do tedious exercises of converting metres to centimetres, etc. Children at this stage may not be able to perceive of bigger units such as a kilometre. They must be encouraged to speak of a kilometre in the context of a story or narrative. The Map of Agra is an exercise with a narrative involving children, with familiar images (icons) to help the initial understanding of mapping in 2 dimensions.

How Long is a Metre?

A meter in equal to 100 centimetres

A shopkeeper at a cloth shop talking to the boy.

I want to make a long kurta.

Take 2 metres cloth for your kurta.

A shopkeeper at a cloth shop talking to the girl.

And how many metres for a long skirt for me?

You need three metres!

Let Us Make a Metre-rope

You must have seen shopkeepers measuring cloth with a metre rod.

Kids and a metre rod.

  • Use a metre rod and a rope.
  • Make a knot at one end of the rope.
  • Keep the metre rod with the rope.
  • Mark 1 metre on the rope and make a knot there.
  • Now the length between the two knots is 1 metre. This is your metre-rope.

If you don't get a metre rod use a measuring-tape and mark 100 centimetres on the rope. 100 centimetres are equal to a metre, so you get the metre-rope.

Guess and Check

Activity 1

  • Find some things that look 1 metre long.
  • Use your metre-rope to find which of these things are more or less than 1 metre.

Name of the thing

More than 1 metre

Less than1 metre

Length of table



Width of table



Width of door



Length of door









Activity 2

A child marking 1 metre height on the class wall.

Some Class III children have marked a 1 metre height on the wall of their class. You can also mark 1 metre on your class wall.

Now make a chart of the heights of your friends.

To measure the centimetres, you can use your small scale.

Name Taller/Shorter/
Equal to 1 metre
How many centimetres
more or less than a metre
Shambhu Taller 4 centimetres
-- -- --

Children measuring their height.

Yahoo! I am 4 cm more than 1 metre

Let me see if I am also taller than a metre

Centimetres or Metres?

Which of these will be in centimetres and which will be in metres?

  • Width of a computer screen Computer screen.
  • Length of a Pagdi worn by Sikhs
  • Height of a 1-year old child A one year old child.
  • Length of a banana   A banana.
  • Waist of an elephant   An elephant.
  • Height of a sugarcane
  • Depth of a well
  • Height of your mother A woman.
  • Distance from classroom to school gate
  • Length of your father's arm.

Trip to Agra

Marie and Baichung are going with their family to Agra. They get down at Agra Cantt. Railway Station and take a rickshaw to Taj Mahal. After 3 hours, they start for Agra Fort, again in a rickshaw. In the afternoon they take a bus to go to Fatehpur Sikri.

Map of Agra

Map of Agra showing Babarpur Forest, Agra Fort, Taj Mahal, River Yamuna, Taj Forests, Agra Cantt Railway Station, Road to Fatehpur Sikri.

Now look at the distances between these places (for kilometres we write km).

  • Agra Cantt. Railway Station to Taj Mahal - 5 km
  • Taj Mahal to Agra Fort - 2 km
  • Agra Fort to Fatehpur Sikri - 40 km

Now find from the map

Which is farther from Agra Cantt. Railway Station - Taj Mahal or Fatehpur Sikri?

Railway line.  shows the railway line.

Which of these is nearer to the railway line:

  • Babarpur forest or Taj forest?
  • Agra Fort or Taj Mahal?

Which is closer to the river Yamuna:

  • Taj Mahal or the Railway Station?

Match the Correct Length

Draw lines to match each picture with how long it can be.

An earthworm.

Length of an earthworm

2 kilometres

A child.

Height of a child

5 metres

Finger nail.

Width of a finger nail

10 centimetres

A saree.

Length of a Sari

1 centimetre

A road.

Distance from home to school

1 metre

The Long Tail Competition

The animals in this picture had a competition. The animal who had the longest tail won a prize.  Now who do you think won the first prize and who won the second....? Just guess the length of the longest tail.

A rat sitting on the trunk of the elephant and a cow sitting on the elephant. A monkey sitting on a pig who is over the cow.

A snake.

Do I have a tail?