Grade 2 Lesson Plan and Activity Based on Actual Size by Steve Jenkins

Grade 2 Lesson Plan and Activity Based on Actual Size by Steve Jenkins
Page content



Measure to determine how much longer one object is than another, expressing the length difference in terms of a standard length unit. MA.2.MD.A.4

What You’ll Need

  • Book: Actual Size by Steve Jenkins
  • Index cards
  • Twelve-inch rulers, yardsticks and one-inch cubes
  • Masking tape


Post this information for the students to see:

  • Atlas moth has a 12-inch wingspan.
  • Alaskan brown bear is 13 feet tall.
  • Ostrich is 9 feet tall.
  • Giant anteater is 7 feet long.
  • Dwarf goby fish is 1/3 of an inch.
  • Giant squid is 59 feet long and its eyes are 12 inches across.
  • Giant birdeater tarantula is 12 inches across.
  • Saltwater crocodile is 23 feet long.
  • Goliath frog is 36 inches long with legs extended.
  • Great white shark is 21 feet long and its teeth are 4 inches long.
  • Gorilla is 5 ½ feet tall
  • Mouse lemur is 23 ½ inches tall.
  • Siberian tiger is 14 feet long.
  • Goliath beetle is 6 inches long.
  • Giant walking stick is 22 inches long
  • African elephant is 13 feet tall.
  • Pygmy shrew is two inches long.

Number the index cards and add one task to each card. Tailor your tasks to fit the ability level of your students. Here are some examples.

  • How many inches are three atlas moths lying side-by-side?
  • What is the difference in height between the Alaskan brown bear and the ostrich?
  • How many inches are four Goliath tarantulas lying side by side? How many feet is that?
  • What is the difference in length between the giant anteater and the saltwater crocodile?
  • What is the difference in height between the African elephant and the gorilla?


When you read the book Actual Size by Steve Jenkins, you will undoubtedly hear comments from your students such as, “Cool,” “Gross” or “Awesome!” This cleverly illustrated book about some of the world’s largest and smallest animals includes the measurements and some basic information about select animals.

After reading, your students will visualize the sizes of these animals using the provided measuring tools. For a few animals (such as the 59-foot giant squid), you will need extra space, so you may want to use a multi-purpose room, playground or hallway.

Day One:

Read Actual Size by Steve Jenkins. Move furniture out of the way so you have space to measure. Place students in small groups with an assignment to measure a specific animal from the list. Save the giant squid and saltwater crocodile to do together in a larger area. One person from the group should gather the appropriate measuring tools (some will need yards sticks, some rulers and some the inch cubes). Provide these instructions:

  1. Lay a pencil down at your starting point.
  2. Measure to the correct point and lay a pencil at the end point.
  3. Double-check your work
  4. Use a file card to label the name of your animal.
  5. Come to me and I will help put a strip of masking tape the length of the measured area.

When completed, everyone gathers to view and discuss the work. Compare lengths of different animals. Then move to the playground or multi-purpose room to work as a group to measure the giant squid and saltwater crocodile. Would two saltwater crocodiles equal one giant squid?

Day Two

Students may work individually or in pairs to complete 10 task cards. Lay the task cards face down on the floor or large table. Take one card at a time then return the card and choose another. Write the card number on a piece of paper. Show your work and the answer next to the card number. After a predetermined time, gather the students to check the answers.

You may also find this lesson plan helpful, Move Those Feet! Measuring Activity for the Elementary Classroom.