# Centimeters, Meters, and Kilometers Background Information for Teachers, Parents and Caregivers

This page provides information to support educators and families in teaching K-3 students about centimeters, meters and kilometers. It is designed to complement the Centimeters, Meters, and Kilometers topic page on BrainPOP Jr.

Familiarize children with metric measurements. This movie will explore centimeters, meters, and kilometers and help children get an understanding of each measurement and how they are related. We recommend doing plenty of hands-on activities with rulers and tape measures and even working with non-standard units of measurement.

Review with children that a centimeter is a unit of measurement. A thumbnail is about 1 centimeter wide. What else is about 1 centimeter wide? Brainstorm different objects. Then have children measure small objects using a centimeter ruler. Remind them that when they measure, they should line up the end of the object with the 0 on the ruler. Talk about what might happen if they do not line up the 0 with the end of the object. You may want to demonstrate. Review with children that centimeters are often used to measure small or medium-sized objects. What is the length and width of a desk? What is the height of a glass? Practice measuring objects and writing down the measurements in a chart. Then order the objects you’ve measured from shortest to longest. Be sure to remind children that the abbreviation for centimeters is *cm*, and that unlike customary units of measure, no periods are used after metric abbreviations.

Review that a meter is equal to 100 centimeters. A child’s armspan is about 1 meter, as is the length of a baseball bat. What else is 1 meter long or wide? Brainstorm ideas and measure to find examples. Explain that we use meters to measure longer or bigger dimensions. For example, we can use meters to measure the height of a ceiling or the length of a swimming pool. Why would we use meters instead of centimeters? Have children explain their answers. Use a meter stick or a tape measure to measure different objects and order the measurements from shortest to longest. Remind children that the abbreviation for meter is *m*.

Review that a kilometer is equal to 1,000 meters. Explain that we use kilometers to measure long distances, which is the measurement between two places or points. For example, the distance from one end of the country to the other can be measured in kilometers. Have children use a map to find distances to different points of interest. You may want to review the Reading Maps movie. They may also want to use an online mapping system to help them find distances between two places. How far is it to drive from Los Angeles, California to Washington, D.C.?

Help children choose the correct unit to use to measure different objects or distances. Why would you measure a pencil in centimeters? Why shouldn’t you use kilometers to measure a crayon? Discuss together and have children point out what units they would use to measure different objects.

Understanding metric measurements is important because most parts of the world use the metric system. In addition, people in science and engineering fields work with metric units. Help children become masters of measurement!