During a mini science unit on measurements and measuring methods, the kids and I looked at how measurements have evolved over the ages.
We learned that before our fixed units of measurements (inch, foot, yard, etc.) were determined, ancient people groups used more rudimentary methods for comparing lengths. To prove the fallacies of these rather crude measuring practices, we put them to the test. With some helpful suggestions from her brothers, Sweetie Pea created a simple chart to graph our findings.
First up was a trial of the Ancient Egyptian "palm," a unit of measurement using the length of the palm of one's hand. We each took turns measuring Sweetie Pea with the palm of our hand. Obviously, I didn't use quite as many "palms" as Blonde Warrior or Super Boy who have much smaller hands.
Then it was on to the Roman "Foot", that uses just THAT...a human foot to determine length. Again, our measurements proved to be inconsistent depending upon who's "foot" was being used.
Based on our charted findings, the children were quick to understand how difficult it would have been to measure anything without a fixed unit of measurement. This lent itself to a conversation about how so many measurement variables would have made it quite difficult to conduct business in ancient times.
Although we added this simple experiment to a science unit, it could also be a nice addition to an ancient Egyptian/Roman history unit or even as an introduction to measurements in math.