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Activities to Teach Kids About Body Measurements, Symmetry & Proportion

Updated on June 28, 2012
Diane Lockridge profile image

Lockridge homeschools her children and holds an EdS in Curriculum and Instruction, an MS in Elementary Education, and a BA in History.

Need help determining a man's dress shirt size? Measure around his thumb!
Need help determining a man's dress shirt size? Measure around his thumb! | Source

How measuring one body part can tell you the measurement of another

If you are a “people watcher” — or even if you are not— you have likely noticed that the human body is symmetrical. The term “symmetrical” means that if you divided the body in half lengthwise, the right side would essentially look the same as the left side. For example, people have a left eye, ear, nose and arm and also have a right eye, ear, nose and arm. Nevertheless, the human body is also rather proportional as well, which means there is a relationship in size between the different parts of your body.

Suppose you wanted to buy your dad a dress shirt for his birthday, but did not want to ask him for his shirt size. When buying men’s shirts you often need to know the neck circumference and the arm length in order to get a good fit. If you asked to measure your dad’s arm and neck, he would know for sure what you were planning. So, instead of asking for your dad’s neck measurement, you can use a piece of string or yarn and ask to see his thumb.

Did you know that twice around your thumb is about the circumference of your wrist? And twice around your wrist is about the circumference of your neck?

Determine the approximate arm length by checking your father’s shoe size. The distance between the crook of your elbow and your wrist is about the size of your foot. (Go ahead and check it out right now, shocking — but true — your foot is about the size of your forearm!) Double the length of your forearm (or shoe) and you have about the measurement for your father’s shirt’s arm length.

So, if you know your father’s shoe size, and the distance around his thumb you can get a fairly accurate measurement for his new shirt. Suppose, the distance around your father’s thumb twice was about 8 inches, his neck circumference (about twice the circumference of his wrist) would be about 16 inches. Measure the length of your father’s shoe and multiply that number by two to determine the approximate arm length.

The human body, its everyday functions are amazing and its overall proportion and symmetry are pretty awesome too.

For more information on the topic of Body Math, visit the CYBERCHASE website for activities and tips on body proportions and view this CYBERCHASE video.

Visit Math Websites I Love for hints and helps for kids struggling with math, or for parents/teachers wanting to help kids with math.

Part of CyberChase Episode on Porportions

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