EL Support Lesson

How Big Is the Tower?

In this hands-on maths lesson, your students will practise using content specific vocabulary as they learn all about comparison! This can be used as a stand-alone or support lesson for the **Sizing Up a Bee Hive** lesson plan.
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for theSizing Up a BeehiveLesson plan.
GradeSubjectView aligned standards
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for theSizing Up a BeehiveLesson plan.

Students will be able to sort objects from longest to shortest.


Students will be able to explain how to compare objects based on their length using tactile and visual supports.

(2 minutes)
Which Tower is Taller?Teach Background Knowledge TemplateWrite Student-Facing Language Objectives ReferenceVocabulary Cards: EL Support Lesson: How Big Is The Tower?Glossary: EL Support Lesson: How Big is the Tower?
  • Gather students together and introduce the lesson by showing two similar items of different lengths (e.g., a short pencil and a long pencil) and asking students what is different about the two items.
  • Explain that today you will be learning all about LengthOr how long or short something is.
(5 minutes)
  • Hold up two crayons of different lengths (one obviously shorter than the other).
  • Say, "Can you point to the crayone that is the longest?"
  • Using the vocabulary cards and gestures (use your hands to show long vs. short), explain how you can tell if someting is longer or shorter.
  • Have students repeat the gestures as you say"long" and "short."
  • Model how to compare several objects by lining them up side by side to determine which is longest and which is shortest.
  • Explain to students that you are putting them in order from shortest to longest by ComparingOr seeing how they are different and the same.
(10 minutes)
  • Explain that now students will each get an unsharpened pencil. In pairs, they will go around the room and they will each find one object that is shorter than their pencil.
  • Send students off to find their objects.
  • Gather students back together to share their objects.
  • Ask, "How do you know ________Is shorter than the pencil?"
  • Repeat the process, this time having students find an object longer than the pencil.
  • Ask students to share how they compared their objects, emphasize ways to compare (e.g., lining up side by side, measuring, etc.) to check for understanding.
(15 minutes)
  • Explain that now students will get to use 10 or less snap cubes to create two towers, one that is tall and one that is short.
  • Model how to build two towers and compare them to determine which is short and which is tall.
  • Pass out snap cubes and send students to work independently.


  • Pair students together to build their towers. Encourage each student to build one of the towers and work together to determine which is shorter and which is longer.


  • Have students build three snap cube towers to compare from shortest to longest. Ask students to turn and talk to a partner to explain how they knew the order to place their towers.
  • Pass out paper and have students record their towers, then have them trade papers with a partner to check their work.
(5 minutes)
  • Pair students together to share their finished towers. Ask students to explain to their partner how they can tell which tower is taller and which is shorter.
  • Observe students at work to see how they are interacting with the materials. Can they accurately create and compare two towers? Are there any areas of confusion?
(5 minutes)
  • Gather students back together and display the finished towers to the group.
  • Point to the different towers and ask students to give a thumbs up when you point to the taller/shorter tower.

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