Saturday, February 27, 2010

Can of Worms Measuring Activity

I made these a few years ago and went to use them this year and couldn't find them. I've meant to make more all year so we could use them to do some fun measurement activities. I was very happily surprised to find them tucked away with my St. Patrick's Day stuff. I was so happy I found them that I wanted to share them.

Green Ric Rac
Wiggle Eyes
Cans for worms (frosting cans, baby food containers work great!)

Prepare 3 worms for each group. Cut Ric Rac into 3 lengths: 2 inches, 4 inches and 6 inches. Hot glue a wiggle eye on one side at the end of each worm. Make a set of three for each group or set of partners.

Divide the students into groups of four or sets of partners. Give each group a "can of worms", objects/manipulatives (pencils, crayons, books, Popsicle sticks, paper, etc.) to measure, record sheet for each student and a ruler. (I have a record sheet I've made for these activities, but can't figure out how to post it. Sorry:(

Shortest to Longest

Have students lay the worms out and arrange them in ascending order of shortest to longest. Now compare the worms to each other. How many short worms does it take to make a long worm? How many medium worms? Have students talk with their group about how the worms compare in length. Ask them to arrange all the items in ascending order of shortest to longest. (Example, pencil, pencils, crayons, books, Popsicle sticks, paper, unifix cubes, etc.).

Measuring with worms (Non-Standard unit of measurement)

Let students practice measuring items with worms and help them record their data on the record sheet. Students will start by using the shortest worm. They will determine the number of worms it takes to measure the length of a pencil, pencils, crayons, books, Popsicle sticks, paper, unifix cubes, etc.

After measuring each item with the short worm, measure each item with the medium worm. Continue until all items are measured and recorded and repeat with the longest worm.

Measuring in Inches

Help students begin by measuring each worm in inches. Record the measurements on the record
sheet. Students will measure the same items measured with the worms with a ruler to determine the items length in inches.

After the activities:

Discuss the measurements the students came up with using worms and rulers. Have each group pick a worm of their choosing. Have them measure a Popsicle stick with the worm. Have each group share their measurements with the class.

Ask each group to measure the Popsicle stick with the ruler. Point out that when each group chose their own nonstandard measurement tool the measures varied, but when measuring with a ruler, measures were consistent. Discuss why standard units of measurement are needed.

Ask the students about difficulties in measuring large objects with small forms of measurement. Brainstorm measuring tools that would make it easier to measure large objects.

Check out this great song from Deborah Stewart at
Little Fingers That Play:

And here are a couple of links to other worm activities from:

Preschool Daze   "i is for inch"
  A great measuring activity!

And this from:
Quirky Momma  "Learning to Measure with Gummy Worms"


  1. Very cute idea! I will be using this in the future for sure!

  2. These are great. I need to assess ability to use non-standard units of measurement for our Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Standards and I think these will work really well. Thanks! Again!!!

  3. Brilliantly simple, Ayn. This is the kind of project I like the best: easy prep, fun, and the kids learn something useful.

    But what I like most of all is finding things I thought I'd lost! On Friday, I couldn't find our Hot Wheels. I'd set up the tracks, but all I could put my hands on were stupid Fisher Price vehicles -- not nearly as cool. Then just before the kids arrived, there they were under a pile of construction vehicles. It couldn't have been me who put them there, right?

  4. This is awesome Ayn! I love all the different ideas for measurement and your cute version of little worms!

  5. I think the kids would love these little worms for so many things... but comparing and measuring with them couldn't be a more fun way to learn :) Great idea!!

  6. I thought I already posted something..but I guess it got deleted. Anyways, Deborah sent me over here to check out your great idea for the worms. I'm excited about the large rick rak, do you mind if I re-post it?


  7. School Time Adventures~
    Not at all, share away! :)


Thank you for visiting little illuminations. I'd love you to share your thoughts!

Thanks for stopping by!

Popular Posts