How Big Is a Blue Whale?

Grade Levels: 1 - 4


  • Students will understand the size of a Blue Whale (the largest mammal in the ocean.)
  • Students will practice predicting and measuring skills.



  1. Before starting this lesson, the teacher should cut the shape of a whale's head and the shape of a whale's tail out of chart paper. Make them as life-sized as possible based on the information at Blue Whale and American Cetacean Society Fact Sheet: Blue Whale.
  2. Break students into two groups and assign them to either the head or tail of the whale.
  3. Ask each group to draw eyes, scales, etc. onto the paper whale's head or tail using the crayons or markers.
  4. Mount the head at one end of the hallway and ask one student to stand next to it holding the end of the rope.
  5. Have a different student unravel the twine all the way to the end (for the full 100 feet) and mount the tail on the wall at that spot.
  6. Once the students see how long a blue whale is, ask them to predict how many children it would take, stretched end-to-end, to fill the length of a blue whale.
  7. Have students write down their predictions on a piece of paper.
  8. Using strips of adding machine tape, measure each child's height and give each student their strip of paper.
  9. Ask the students to write their name on their own strip of paper.
  10. Tape the strips end to end on the wall between the whale's head and tail. Have students count how many strips it takes to make up the length of the whale.
  11. See which students came closest to predicting correctly.
  12. Now ask students to predict how many paper plates would make up the size of the whale and repeat the activity.
  13. As a culminating activity, have a discussion about size, using comparing and contrasting to help them understand the enormous size of a whale. Ask the students if they think a blue whale would fit in their house or car. Ask students what else they think might be as big as a blue whale.

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