Activity: Discover Lengths

This is a simple but very useful activity:

Measure the length, width and height of everyday items

You will need:

  • A ruler (for smaller items)
  • A tape measure (for larger items)
  • Pen and paper

Measure using millimeters (mm) or inches (in). Try to do both if you can.


Length is the distance from end to end.

But "Length" can also mean the longer distance across:

  • Length: Longer distance across
  • Width: Smaller distance across
  • Height: vertical distance

But here we are interested in any distance (length, width or height).

Spelling: Length and Width end in "th", but Height ends in a "t"

Using A Ruler

Make sure one end of the object is at the "0" mark and read the number at the other end. You can also count the little marks between the numbers for a more accurate answer.

Measuring the length of a fork (8 inches or 200 mm long)

Using a Tape Measure

A tape measure has a little right-angled "hook" at the start ... you can use this to hold on to one edge while you pull the tape measure to the other edge.

Make sure you measure straight across (or straight up and down) or your answer will be wrong.

Measuring the width of a door (820 mm wide).

Measuring the width of a table.

Measuring the height of a chair.

Fill In This Table

Measure the following items (including three others that you find):

Item Guess Actual
Paperclip (width)    
Teaspoon (length)    
Fork (length)    
Pencil (length)    
Chair seat (height)    
Chair back (height)    
Table (width)    
Table (length)    
Table (height)    
Door (width)    
Door (height)    
Car (width)    
Car (length)    
Car (height)    
Hallway (width)    
Hallway (length)    
Hallway (height)    

From Smallest to Largest

Now, list the items above, from the smallest to largest distance:

Example: Paperclip (width), Teaspoon (length), Pencil (length), ...