ALEX Learning Activity


Matchbox Car Measurement

A Learning Activity is a strategy a teacher chooses to actively engage students in learning a concept or skill using a digital tool/resource.

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  This learning activity provided by:  
Author: Jennifer Towles
School:University of Montevallo
  General Activity Information  
Activity ID: 2661
Matchbox Car Measurement
Digital Tool/Resource:
Engage: Matchbox Car Measurement Google Slides Presentation
Web Address – URL:

This engagement activity allows students to use metric measurements to measure the length of an object. The students will use strategies based on place value and the properties of operation to combine the length of multiple objects with the same length to solve a real-world metric measurement problem.

This activity was created as a result of the ALEX Resource Development Summit.

  Associated Standards and Objectives  
Content Standard(s):
MA2015 (2016)
Grade: 2
18 ) Use addition and subtraction within 100 to solve word problems involving lengths that are given in the same units, e.g., by using drawings (such as drawings of rulers) and equations with a symbol for the unknown number to represent the problem. [2-MD5]

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
M.AAS.2.18- Increase or decrease length by adding or subtracting nonstandard unit(s).

Learning Objectives:

The student will make sense of a problem and persevere to solve it.

The student will use the length of an object measured in centimeters to solve a real-world measurement problem about length.

The student will use strategies based on place value and the properties of operation to add.

  Strategies, Preparations and Variations  

  1. Open the Google Slides presentation Engage: Matchbook Car Measurement.
  2. Present the problem: Sammy has a lot of Matchbox cars. His mom is tired of stepping on them on the floor. She wants to come up with a way to organize his Matchbox cars (Slide 1).
  3. The teacher and students will read the learning targets together (Slide 3).
  4. The teacher will say, “This is what Sammy’s mom did. What do you notice?” The teacher will record their responses on chart paper (Slide 4).
  5. The teacher will ask, “What do you wonder?” The teacher will record their responses on chart paper (Slide 5).
  6. The teacher will hold up a Matchbox car and a centimeter cube or a measuring tape on the centimeter side. The teacher will highlight the length of a centimeter. The teacher will ask the students to estimate the length of their car in centimeters. Each student will record their estimation on a sticky note and give it to the teacher (Slide 6).

  7. The teacher will hold up each sticky note as he or she records their estimations on a Line Plot. The teacher will make an X above the number to indicate each estimation for each student. The teacher may type an “X” in the table. To do this, the teacher will need to press “Esc” on the keyboard to leave presentation mode and move to edit mode. To edit, the teacher will need to make a copy of the slideshow in her Google drive or download the presentation on her hard drive. Option 2: Use the Line Plot document under a document camera (Slide 7).

  8. The teacher will give each group of students either centimeter cubes, centimeter strips, or a centimeter measuring tape, ruler, or paper ruler to measure the cars. The students will measure their matchbox car given one of the tools provided. It is important that students agree on using 7 centimeters as the standard length of each car (Slide 8).

  9. The teacher will present the problem students will solve. The teacher will place the students with partners to solve the problem. The teacher will remind the students to use what they learned from measuring the cars. Although the length of the cars may vary slightly, for the purposes of problem-solving, they will use 7 centimeters as the standard length of a typical matchbox car. The teacher will ask, “Why is it important that we agree on using 7 centimeters as the length of each car? To help the students solve the problem, provide each partner with either centimeter cubes, centimeter paper, several paper rulers, or one regular ruler, or one measuring tape. Students may need paper clips to mark seven centimeters on the standard measuring tool (measuring tape or paper rulers) of their choice. Before they begin to solve the problem, ask the students to estimate how long they think the shelf will be. This will help them determine the reasonableness of their final answer (Slide 9).

  10. Distribute a recording sheet for the activity to each partnership. Review with the students the parts of the recording sheet (Slide 10).

  11. Review the problem the students will solve. This slide needs to be projected at all times or print copies of this slide to give to each partnership. While the students work, the teacher will circulate asking for prompting and probing questions. “What do you know? How will you use that information? What measurement unit are we using in the problem? What addition strategy could you use to help you add multiple addends? How does that strategy change or stay the same when the addends are the same number being added over and over?” Use the checklist to make notes about students’ understanding of solving measurement word problems (Slide 11).

  12. Choose three partnerships to share. The lowest level of strategy shares first. The highest level of strategy shares last. The complexity of strategy may vary due to skill level or the time of the school year, so each teacher will have to look at their individual class to rank strategy complexity to determine what is the lowest level and what is the highest level. Typically, the lowest level student will count all by ones or count on 7 each time. The highest level strategy may involve using repeated doubles ( 7+7, 7+7, 7+7, 7+7). Once the student has 14 + 14 + 14 + 14, he or she may continue using doubles or decompose the numbers by place value to add. The additive framework may be helpful when evaluating work (Slide 12).

  13.  As the students share their work, project Slide 13 to remind all students of the question they are answering (Slide 13). 


Assessment Strategies:

The teacher will use the checklist to make notes about students’ understanding of solving measurement word problems.

The additive framework may also be helpful when evaluating work.

Advanced Preparation:

  1. Purchase or request parents to send in 7-9 standard small toy cars or Matchbox cars (about 7 cm long). Three Count packages are available at your local Dollar Tree.
  2. Download Google Slides presentation Engage: Matchbook Car Measurement.
  3. Print Line Plot to use under the document camera (if this is the preferred display method).
  4. Gather centimeter cubes, metric rulers/tapes, or print centimeter paper and paper centimeter rulers.
  5. Cut the centimeter paper in strips.
  6. Gather sticky notes, chart paper, and a chart marker.
  7. Divide the class into groups of 3, heterogeneous grouping.
  8. Print recording sheet.
  9. Print the checklist for a formative assessment.
Variation Tips (optional):
Notes or Recommendations (optional):

ALCOS 2019

ALCOS 2.21). Use addition and subtraction within 100 to solve word problems involving the same units of length, representing the problem with drawings (such as drawings of rulers) and/or equations with a symbol for the unknown number.

  Keywords and Search Tags  
Keywords and Search Tags: adding with 100, adding within 1000, measurement, Measurement word problems, multiple addends