African Safari Measurements – A Lesson Plan in Converting Weight and Height Measurements


Summary of Lesson Plan:

The following is three lessons on African animal measurements. Students will predict, compare and explore the heights and weights of different African animals. Students will explore how many humans would equate to these heights and weights and explore their own height and how that compares to the heights of these animals. Finally, students will create scaled drawings of the animals and convert the height and weight measurements.

Australian Curriculum Links:

AC Mathematics:

Mathematics: Year 4:

  • ACMMG084 Use scaled instruments to measure and compare lengths, masses, capacities and temperatures
  • ACMNA072 Recognise, represent and order numbers

Mathematics: Year 5:

  • ACMMG108 Choose appropriate units of measurement for length, area, volume, capacity and mass
  • ACMNA101 Solve problems involving division by a one-digit number, including those that result in a remainder
  • ACMMG105 Compare, order and represent decimals

Mathematics: Year 6:

  • ACMMG135 Connect decimal representations to the metric system
  • ACMMG136 convert between common metric units of length, mass and capacity

Essential Questions:

  • What measurements do we use for height and weight?
  • What are the different heights and weights of African animals?
  • How many humans equal the same height and weight as the animals?
  • Do males and female animals weigh the same? Are they the same height?

Skills Taught:

  • Use scaled instruments to measure temperatures, lengths, shapes and objects
  • Order a series of heights and weights
  • Order decimals
  • Use appropriate units of measurement for length and mass
  • Connect decimalrepresentations to the metric system and choose appropriate units of measurement to perform a calculation

Lesson Plan Sequence:

Animal Predictions and ordering

(10 mins)

Focus: Safari Animal Discussion and Predictions

  • What African animals do we know of?
  • Discuss Animals- show from animal template- which do we think will be the heaviest? Tallest? Lightest? Smallest?
  • Question: Do we think that female and male animals will be the same height and weight? Why/ why not?
  • Predict height and weights: Place the animal templates in different locations around the classroom. Students walk around the room to each poster and write up their predictions for both height and weight.
  • In Mathematics books: Students order the animals in order of heaviest to lightest (weight) and tallest to smallest (height) using their predictions in their book. They just need to record the animal name down.

African Animal Measurements

(30 mins)

Focus: Exploring actual height and weight

  1. Reveal the height and weight of each animal one by one to the class. Have the students examine their predictions and see who got the closest for each animal.
  2. Print a copy of each animal card ready to use. Give each animal to a student and have them order themselves in a line from:
    • Tallest female to smallest
    • Tallest male to smallest (discuss were there any differences?)
    • Heaviest female to lightest
    • Heaviest female to lightest (discuss were there any differences?)
  1. How many humans would that be for each animal? Have students explore how many people would it take to be the height and weight of each animal. Use the following measurements:
    • Average height of male: 1.75m
    • Average weight of male: 85.9kg
    • Average height of female: 1.61 m
    • Average weight of female: 71.1 kg


(5 mins)

Focus: Share findings: Students to share what they found out

Prompting questions:

  • What were the differences between female and male measurements?
  • Were the any similarities between heights and weights of animals?

What questions do you still have?

Height Predictions

(10 mins)

Focus: Height discussions

  • What did we find out about animal height and weight?
  • How tall are we? What might we measure?
  • Animal predictions: Have students predict how many of ‘them’ would fit into the height of each animal. E.g. how many times would their height fit into a giraffe
  • Are we all going to be the same? Why/why not?

Chalk Measurements

(25 mins)

Focus: Exploring and comparing our height

  1. Animal heights: have students record some animal heights down they are going to compare (e.g. choose 3 animals to compare) Students will need these measurements for the activity.
  2. Chalk measurements: in pairs or groups of three, students choose three African animals to compare. Students outside will use measuring tape to measure out the height of the animal and draw a line using chalk. Students then repeat for the height of the second and third animal, labelling them both. Students record the measurement of the animals and find out how many of ‘them’ fit into the height of the animal. Compare with group members.


(10 mins)

Focus: Share findings- Each group to share the difference in height of both their animals and how many of the students fit into the height

Prompting questions:

  • Which animal was taller and by how much?
  • How many of you fit into the height of the animal/s?
  • Did it end up being a perfect fit? Was it a whole number? Did you have a fraction at the end? Discuss- ½ ¾ 1/3 etc- what would that be as a decimal?
  • Did different people fit into the animal height the same amount of times?
  • Why/ why not?

What questions do you still have?


(10 mins)

Focus: Height and scale

  • What did we find out about animal height and weight?
  • What is scale? How could we measure scale- modelled
  • Draw scaled animal on board- e.g. 1 cm = 2 m

Scale and converting measurements

(30 mins)

Focus: Exploring scale and converting measurements

  1. Students to draw scaled images for each animal. All animals to be drawn using the same scale
  2. Converting measurements: discuss- what do we know?
  3. Metric system of measurement: math is fun
  4. Class conversions: model converting measurements as a class
  5. Safari conversions: Students to show safari animal height and weight in a range of measures
  • Height: mm, cm and m
  • Weight: g, kg, t

Extension: Find the height and weight of an animal of your choice. Record the measurements as mm, cm, m / g, kg and t. Draw a scaled image of the animal to share with the class.


(5-10 mins)

Focus: Share findings

Students to share their scaled images and conversions.

Assessment Ideas:

  • Replace with text here…


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