Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Where Is Japan? How Far Is That?

Sandi King
Bay District Schools


Students use literature and hands-on activities with maps and globes to understand distances and tools used to measure distance.


The student knows how to communicate measurement concepts.

The student knows appropriate standard tools for measuring linear dimensions, weight, capacity, and temperature.

The student knows terms used to describe distance (for example, feet, yards, meters, miles, kilometers).


- Myller, Rolf. [How Big is a Foot?] Young Yearling Publisher, 1991.
- Large world map
- Globe
- Various measurement instruments, such as scales, rulers, tape measures, string, paper clips, thermometers, compass
- Summative assessments from the unit's associated file (one copy per student)


1. Locate and preview [How Big is a Foot?] by Rolf Myller. A version of this book has been adapted for a first grade reading level and in available in Rainbow World, MacMillan Publishing, 1983.

2. Locate and display a large world map.

3. Locate a globe.

4. Collect various measurement instruments such as scales, thermometers, rulers, tape measures, string, and paper clips. You will need a collection for each group if working with groups.

5. Download, print, and duplicate the summative assessment from the unit's associated file.


1. During read-aloud time, read How Big is a Foot? by Rolf Myller. This introductory activity will focus the students' attention on measurement and the ideas of how we measure. Various terms to describe distance will be introduced. (See Materials.)

2. During language arts time, use these vocabulary words to categorize: ruler, tape measure, yardstick, scale, thermometer, clock, inch, pound, mile, foot, yard, hour, minute, and degrees. Categorize these words as to what they measure, tools, or units.

3. During math, have students select tools to measure various objects in the classroom including desks size, air temperature, book weight, time until lunch, and etc. Be sure the students select the tools for the various measurements. Students should discuss the reason for their tool selection. The teacher may need to do the actual measuring as students may not have the skills necessary to use the measurement tool selected. This is a good opportunity to model how to use the various tools.

4. During social studies, ask the leading question, -How far is it to Japan?- Students should express their ideas of distance. Develop the use of terms, such as far, near, close to, inches, miles, etc.

Using the map and/or globe, ask students to select a tool from an assortment of measuring instruments to be used to measure the distance from America to Japan. Have students explain why they chose this particular instrument.

5. Establish a need for a map scale by asking students what unit of measure was used when they measured the distance to Japan? Do they think it is really just 7 inches (or whatever was measured on your map or globe) to Japan? What unit of measure do you think the inches stand for? Point out the map scale on various maps. Be sure students discuss the concepts of distance and measurement.

6. Measure to various countries around the globe. Compare and contrast distances to various countries using terms to describe or explain distances, such as near, far, close to, miles.

7. Formatively assess understanding of distance, measuring instruments, and units of measure while students communicate distances on the map. Give affirmative and corrective feedback.

8. Following this day's lesson is a review for the summative assessment that ends this unit. Instructions for the review, as well as how to administer the summative, are available from the Assessment files on the Unit Plan. For more information on how to obtain the Unit Plan and Assessments see the Extensions section of this lesson plan.


Formatively assess understanding of distance, measurement tools selected, and units of measure while observing students participating in the described activities. Students should be encouraged to discuss distances and measurement. Give affirmative and corrective feedback.

This is the third and final lesson for the unit, Where is Japan? Basic Map Skills. If you are using the entire unit, at this point there is a summative assessment for lesson plans #2 and #3. There is also a unit summative. These summative assessments are available from the unit's associated files.


1. The Beacon Unit Plan associated with this lesson can be viewed by clicking on the link located at the top of this page or by using the following URL: Once you select the unit’s link, scroll to the bottom of the unit plan page to find the section, “Associated Files.” This section contains links to the Unit Plan Overview, Diagnostic and Summative Assessments, and other associated files (if any).

2. For assistance in finding the books suggested for this lesson, go to Sunlink on the Web. This site allows you to find the schools in each county that have a specific book. Follow these instructions: (1) Click the link in the Weblinks section of this lesson plan, or type the URL in the address line of your browser. The URL is (2) Click the button for Begin Your Search. (3) Click the part of Florida for your county. (4) Click your specific county. (5) Type the title of the book. No other information needs to be typed here. (6) Click the Find It button. (7) Click the title of the book that appears to receive the Full Record. At the bottom of the Full Record is the location of the book. (8) Request the book from the school shown.

3. Students write stories about measurement modeled after the story, [How Big is a Foot?]

Web Links

Additional information on the adult level which may help prepare parents and teachers for the maps and globes unit.
Compass Rose

Web supplement for Where Is Japan? How Far Is That?
Cultural Information

This site allows you to locate books at any school library in Florida.

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