How Long is Six Feet?

The following activity is part of a series we’re creating to support students, teachers, and caregivers, during this unprecedented time. Read more about the project here. If you try this activity with your student(s), we’d love to see what you do. Share your journey via the #Inspired2Learn hashtag on your preferred social platform. 

Created by: Julie Sweetland
Discipline: Math
Age level: PK-3
Time: 15 minutes to an hour

Materials: For younger students: six paper “footprints,” each one foot long. Older students can use a ruler, tape measure, yard stick. Easy-to-remove stickers (or sticky notes) might be fun, but aren’t strictly necessary. 

What to do: Learners start to internalize our new norms about appropriate social distance by finding objects and spaces that are six feet long.

  1. Remind learners that to avoid spreading germs, everybody is cooperating to stay six feet away from each other when outside of our own homes. That makes it really important to understand, “how long is six feet?”
  2. Let the learner explore a single one-foot measuring item (ruler or footprint) for a few moments. Can they figure out how to mark off SIX feet? (For younger learners, give them the six footprints and ask – how can you lay these out so that they are all touching, but it also makes the longest line possible?)
  3. “Let’s look for places and things in our home (or yard) that are six feet long. When we find some points that are about six feet apart, we will mark each end with a sticker/sticky-note.”
  4. Let the measuring begin! Ideas –  couch, table, bed; bathtub; parts of the hallway; the space between the sink and the refrigerator; entryway to house.
  5. Wrap up the activity by standing on or near the different ends of the six-feet areas. Discuss – how is this different than what we used to do? How does it feel? Remind learners that this distance is an easy thing we can all do to help keep our whole community, and the whole world, safe and healthy.

Variation: Work together to create a six-foot length of string, then use that to measure items and spaces.

Extensions

  • Learners could fill in a two-column chart – either in writing, or with pictures – distinguishing items/spaces that are greater than, or less than, six feet. 
  • Learners could think of family members or family friends who are about six feet tall, and imagine that person lying down between themselves and other people. Consider calling or video-chatting with these tall loved ones!

Inspired Teaching Connection
This activity engages students in purpose (there is a clear objective to the task), persistence (they have to keep looking for appropriate places to measure and make several measurements), and action (this is hands-on). Putting the students at the center of the learning rather than telling them the answer taps into their intellects, and discussing the new social norm engages their sense of integrity.

See our instructional model here.

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