How Big Is It?: A book all about bigness


This is an activity based on the picture book How Big is It?: A book all about bigness

Achievement Objectives
GM3-1: Use linear scales and whole numbers of metric units for length, area, volume and capacity, weight (mass), angle, temperature, and time.
Specific Learning Outcomes
  1. Students will be able to demonstrate their understanding of standard units by accurately comparing the length of two objects.
  2. Students will be able to discuss the perception of size being relative to the perspective or context within which the object is observed.
Description of Mathematics
  1. Size is a relative construct and “bigness” is best judged when one thing is compared to another.
  2. When making comparisons, a standard unit is required.
Required Resource Materials
Copymaster: Larger Than Life

Rulers, measuring tapes

Computer software, such as Word, that permits photo manipulation (cut, crop, paste, overlay)

How Big is It?: A book all about bigness by Ben Hillman


Larger than Life
This activity is based on the picture book How Big is It?: A book all about bigness

Author: Ben Hillman
Publisher: Scholastic (2007)
ISBN: 978-0-439-91808-4

This book is a series of short articles supporting an image of one photograph overlaid with another to demonstrate comparative size. Each 2-page spread has a large photo illustration that has a “Wow!” factor as an object, such as a tarantula, is compared to another object, a dinner plate. The positioning of one thing alongside another challenges our perception of what “big” actually means. The articles are packed with measurement facts in imperial and metric units using whole numbers.

Lesson Sequence:

  1. Prior to reading, ask students to brainstorm in small groups about the word: BIG. What images, numbers and words come to mind when they hear the word BIG. Have students record their group’s ideas and share back with the larger group before reading. Note any measurement ideas that come through.
  2. Share the book with your students, focusing on the photo illustrations and the comparison ideas within the illustrations themselves. Choose 1 or 2 that you believe may be of interest to your students and share some of the statistics presented in the text, or have some photocopies of pages and assign students to read through and report back about the statistics.
  3. Revisit the brainstorming task and ask how this book challenges our idea of bigness and how the author has used mathematics to illustrate this concept. Support students to get the idea of comparison of one thing to another in an unfamiliar context.
  4. Next, or in a second session, ask students to research the lengths of various insects, fish, and/or birds (or other objects that may be related to your current studies). Use the copymaster if appropriate. Ask them to measure to the nearest whole number other common items found around the classroom or home.
  5. Next ask them to match two objects. Take a photo of the common object and find an image of the animal. Using the photo tools in your software, overlay one image on the other to create a comparison illustration.
    The criteria for a successful final illustration will include the accurate proportional relationship between the 2 images (the way it is laid out in the book). For example: if the insect is a Giant Weta, 100mm long, and the comparison object is a toothbrush, 20 cm or 200mm long, then the weta needs to be exactly half the length of the toothbrush in the illustration.
  6. Note this task can be done with drawings if the ICT support is not available for all students.
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Level Three