Activity: Personal Measures

Here is a clever thing you can do:

Measure Yourself!

Measure how wide your hand is, how long your arm is, the width of your fingernails and more!

Then as you are walking around you can measure other things using your body.

The Activity

You will need:

  • A ruler (for smaller measures)
  • A tape measure (for larger measures)
  • A measuring cup (optional)
  • Pen and paper
  • Yourself!

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

    mm inches
1 large step
1 pace (= 2 normal steps)
your height
end of thumb
across 4 fingers together
handspan (finger to thumb)
arm to opposite shoulder
fingernail width
length of foot
length of forearm
(elbow to wrist)
between two biggest knuckles
nose to outstretched hand

Put a copy of this on your wall!

If you are still growing, remember to redo this in a year or two.


Choose 4 of those measures to be your "favorites", the ones you find easiest to remember. Include at least a small, a medium and a large one.

Personal Measure Length

Using The Measures

Now you get to use them!

Measure each of the following, first using your "Personal Measures", then using a ruler or tape measure to see how close you get!

Item Estimate
using a Personal Measure
using a ruler or tape measure
Paperclip (width) 3 fingernails = 30mm 32 mm
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)    

Volume (Optional)

You can also use your hands to measure volume, like this:

    ml fluid ounces
water in the palm
of your hand
water in two cupped hands

How To Measure

Do this measurement in the sink.

When you have filled your hand (or hands)
pour the contents into a measuring cup.

Do this (say) 5 times, see how much is in the cup,
then divide by 5 for how much your hand holds.