Teaching Metric Conversions in 5th Grade

teaching customary conversions in 5th grade

Tired of teaching measurement lessons from the textbook, and using a boring metric conversion worksheet to practice? Teaching metric conversions in 5th grade does NOT have to be monotonous and mundane! Here’s an outline of my classroom lessons and activities to teach metric measurements, sure to boost engagement and save you some planning time.

Activator Video

I love to introduce new content with a video. It gets my students’ attention and helps to set the stage for the lesson! I use a different video as an activator each day of our converting measurements unit. To introduce the metric system and converting metric measurements, here are some of my favorites:

  1. The Metric System Overview
  2. Metric System Song
  3. Metric System Conversions Song
  4. Introduction to the Metric System

Interactive Notes

Textbook notes are boring. Do they have a time and a place? Yes. But I am a firm believer in using interactive notes in my math classroom whenever possible. I find that my students are WAY more likely to go back into their notebook and reference notes if they’re easily found and usable – AKA interactive. To teach metric conversions in 5th grade, I use simple flipbook notes, that are perfect for students to reference again and again to practice converting metric measurements.

I start with introducing the simplicity of the metric system, which usually blows my students minds! We talk a LOT about prefixes, and what they mean, and the base units. I show them the chart, we talk about place value and what it means when we jump to the right and left on the chart. I also reference our activator videos a ton! Your discussions around this will vary, depending on the background knowledge of your students!

Then, we do LOTS of practice as a whole group. I model as many times as possible, while also giving real-life examples and providing context as to what each measurement will look like. You could even have students start to create their own practice problems to share with the class, or solve with a partner! Click here to grab these interactive notes.

Classroom Posters

While my students have the interactive notes readily available in their notebooks, I still always like to have a reference point for them somewhere in the classroom. This helps when students (inevitably) forget their notebooks. It also helps those students who would rather look up on the wall, than pull out their notebooks each time. Secretly, I think seeing it day in and day out on the wall helps students internalize the information better as well! It can’t hurt, right?

I use this set of metric system posters when teaching metric conversions in my 5th grade classroom. I created these to be simple and easy to reference, but include all of the necessary information for students. They’re black and white, so you can print them on any colored paper for your classroom. I typically hang them in order across the front of the room to be used when converting metric measurements.

You could also print them, and place them in order on the floor of your classroom to have students ‘hop’ across while practicing converting metric measurements! Click here to grab a set of these metric system posters.

Practice Activities

Searching for math practice activities can be so time consuming. Lots of times, I end up doing some practice problems from the textbook or using a metric conversion worksheet as independent practice. Let me be clear – there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I also, however, love to mix up our math practice when I can. Here are two options to use for metric conversion practice that will have your students engaged with metric conversions, with little to no extra prep on your end.

First up – these metric conversion color by number activities. I adore using coloring activities in math class because they provide excellent repetition and practice of new concepts AND they let students break up the monotony with a little coloring. My students always loved the challenge of getting their picture correct as well, and who doesn’t love to give their kids a little extra motivation?

If you want to boost the engagement even more – cut up the problems and tape them around the room. Then have kids walk around with their coloring sheet as their answer sheet! It’s the perfect independent or partner practice activity. Grab the set of converting metric units of measurement coloring activities by clicking here.

math practice activities for teaching metric conversions in 5th grade

Another review activity that’s sure to boost engagement while teaching metric conversions in 5th grade, is a board game! This obviously takes a little more prep on the front end. But, once it’s prepped you can use it year after year!

I actually use this board game that covers both customary and metric conversions to review at the end of the unit. Basically, students draw a card and answer the converting measurements problem. If they get it right, they move to the next space on the board with the same color as the card they drew. (Think Candyland!)

Board games are perfect for a partner activity or a small group station activity around the room. You can even project the game board on a smartboard, and pass out the game cards to your students, just like task cards! Click here for this board game to review converting customary and metric units of measure.

converting metric units of measurement in 5th grade board game

End-of-Unit Project

I absolutely love using a project instead of a traditional assessment to close out a math unit. Converting metric measurements in 5th grade is the PERFECT unit for a culminating project. I use this project to assess my entire 5th-grade measurement unit since it covers both customary and metric conversions.

The project I use, described in more detail here, has students design a new store for the local mall. They’ll have to convert measurements to choose the best space, build a sign, purchase materials, hire employees, etc. I love it because it shows converting metric measurements in a real-life application!

You could JUST have your students do the metric conversion practice pages in this project if you haven’t yet covered customary conversions. I’ve also split the project up and had my students work on one page at a time, to keep it manageable.

Typically, I’ll give my students the whole packet, and go over the directions. Then, I have them work independently on each page. I tell them that they cannot move to the next page until I’ve checked the page they completed. This helps me assess their understanding as their work their way through, rather than having them complete the entire project incorrectly. I check the page, stamp the bottom, and send them on their way to work on the next page of the project! Click here to check out the entire converting measurements project pictured below that I use with my students.

teaching metric conversions in 5th grade through a real-word project

There you have it! My go-to activities for teaching metric conversions in my fifth grade classroom. This is always one of my favorite units to teach because there are so many opportunities for engaging practice! If you want to grab all of these resources in one simple bundle, click here.

Not yet teaching measurement? Head here for my other math blog posts. Happy teaching!

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