Converting Inches, Feet and Yards

by Laurie Laurendeau on December 6, 2011

Once your child has had many opportunities to explore measurement using yards, feet and inches, she should be ready for the next step of measuring:  using a yardstick to measure not only in yards, but in feet and inches as well.  She will also begin to understand the relationship between inches, feet and yards.

For example, ask your child to measure the length of one of her school books, but using a yardstick.  She should notice that it is not even one yard long.  Talk about how a yard is divided into smaller units that she is already familiar with.  Show her that there are 3 feet in a yard, and that there are 36 inches in a yard.  So, if she has to measure an object that is larger than a regular ruler, she can use a yardstick to measure, but report the measurement in inches or feet.

Now try measuring objects that are longer than 1 foot, but less than a yard, still using the yard stick.  You might measure a small table, a poster on a wall, or a backpack.  Ask your child which unit of measure she thinks she should use to report its length.  Let her try to measure the object using feet.  Then talk about the fact that inches are more precise and that her measurement will be more accurate if she uses inches.

Write down some measurements (in inches) on a piece of paper for your child.  Ask her how she could change the measurements into larger units.  For example, give her 15 inches, and see if she can convert this into 1 foot, 3 inches.  Try giving her the following measurements to convert into feet and inches:  20 inches, 24 inches, 27 inches, 29 inches, 32 inches, and 36 inches.

Next, talk about things that we measure in both feet and inches, such as our heights.  Tell her how tall you are (ex: 5 feet, 6 inches), and show her with the yard stick what that represents.  Have her measure you using the yard stick, keeping track of the number of feet.  Once she gets to 5 feet, she should notice that she does not have another full foot to measure, so tell her she now needs to report the “leftovers” in inches.  Measure your child next, and then get everyone in the family involved!


  • As always, playing math games at home is a great way to reinforce math skills learned in school.
  • Have questions or ideas about this story?
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  • Have ideas for future Parent Homework Help stories?

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