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Weights and Measures


The Presentation

     According to The World Book Encyclopedia, weights and measures are units used to express the size of things.
     We in America use inch-pound system of measurement and were derived (in England) from older measurement units beginning about 1200’s. This system is also known as the English system or customary system and the United States is the only major country using the customarily system. People in other countries use the Metric system. The Metric system was created in France in 1790’s.
     The ancient Mediterranean systems used body measurements for linear measurements. Weight units were determined by how much a human or animal could carry.
     In ancient Egypt, about 3000 BC, the cubit was formed. The cubit was calculated from the length from the extended fingertips to the tip of the elbow and was used as a standard of linear measurements.
     In the first millennium BC the Greek unit of measurement for length was the width of a finger, 16 fingers equaled 30 centimeters (one foot). Also at that time the Romans divided the foot into 12 unicae, which was the first time this form of division was used.
     The Roman system consisted of the unit of weight was the libra, the pound, and the unit of distance, the mile. The liquid weight was basted on the pinte and dry measure was the quart.
     King Henry I in 1220 defined a yard measurement was from the tip of his nose to the tip of his outstretched fingers (how many used this method today to measure a yard). An acre was defined by how much land an oxen could plow in a day.
     In 1830 the construction of standards was begun by the Office of Standard Weights and Measures.
     In 1975 the United States Congress passed the Metric Conversion Act. This called for a voluntary change over to the metric system. By the end of 1992 this conversion had begun. Today this conversion is still gaining momentum.
How many measuring tools can your participant's name? 

1. Types of measuring tools 
     a. measuring spoons & cups - cooking 
     b. rain gage- measures rain 
     c. thermometer - measuring temperature
     d. bathroom scales - human weight
     e. plum line- measuring walls
     f. electric, water, gas meters
     g. watch & clocks - time
     h. barometer - atmospheric pressure
     i. seismograph - measures earth movements
     j. transit - a surveying instrument that measure angles
     k. yard stick - measuring a yard
     l. fingers - pinch , as in pinch of salt
     j. clock- seconds, minutes, hours 

How many units of measure can your participant's name?

2. Measuring units
     a. length and distance - inch, foot, yard, furlong, international statute mile, statute, league
     b. nautical - span, fathom, cable, international nautical mile, nautical league, knot
     c. surveyor’s or gunter’s - chain, link, chain furlong, surveyor mile
     d. surface or area - inch, foot, yard, rod, acre, mile
     e. volume and capacity - cubic inch, cubic foot, cubic yard
     f. height and mass - grain, dram, ounce, pound, hundred weight, short ton
     g. apothecaries’ weight - grain, scruple, dram. ounce, pound
     h. troy weight -grain, pennyweight, ounce, pound.
     i. liquid - ounce, pint, quart, gallon
     j. time- seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years

What is the meaning of the following measurements

A country mile
Whole nine yards
A little while
Just a couple of minutes


The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at time of challenge and controversy.

                                     Martin Luther King Jr. “Strength to Love” 1963


  1. How do you measure the direction of the wind?               

  2. What instrument do you use to measure the wind?           

  3. What do you use to measure the temperature?

  4. What instrument do you use to measure humidity?

  5. How do you measure the cloud thickness? 

  6. How do you measure cloth? By the Bolt or Yard

  7. Name an instrument that measure the atmosphere. 

  8. Name an instrument that measures horses. 

  9. How much did your children at birth weight?

  10. How much did you weight at birth? 

  11. How long were your children at birth?

  12. How long were you at birth? 

A weather vane
An anemometer
A thermometer
A hygrometer
With a Ceilometer
Aneroid barometer
Hand (one hand equal 4 inches) 

Mental stimulation - differentiate between types of measurements, types of tools for measuring
Group interaction - working on measuring for crafts, cooking etc. activities
Hand and eye coordination - if measuring ingredients for cooking, fabric for sewing, etc.
Group discussion - discussion on what equal what to make an ounce, quart, foot, ton, etc.
Numerical recognition- identifying numbers on measurement instruments


Visual aids: ruler, yard stick, tape measure, measuring cup, measuring spoons, balance scale, bathroom scale, thermometer, rain gage, plum line, barometer, etc.


WEIGHTS & MEASURES: Their Ancient Origins and Their Developments in Great Britain up to AD 1885, written by Frederick George Skinner, copyright © 1967
FOR GOOD MEASURE: A complete Compendium of International Weights & Measures, written by William D. Johnstone, copyright © 1975
THE WORLD BOOK ENCYCLOPEDIA, copyright © 1994 Volume 21 (pp 184 has a list of miscellaneous weights and measure that are really interesting, such as light-year, carat, butt and chaldron) 
COMPTON’S LIVING ENCYCLOPEDIA - on America On-Line using the terms measurements or measurement tools



Correlate with taking monthly resident or participants weights 
Weighting a variety of items to find their weight
Make a pound cake
©1996 SeniorACT

Copyright © 1996 SeniorACT
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