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Metric Conversions Made Easy

Updated on August 20, 2013

Make the following statement to your child or classroom and watch the reaction. WARNING: you may want to cover your ears as the explosion of thunderous applause and cheers erupt!

"I will show you a fun and easy way to convert Metric units using little or no math."

Metric Units Table

Kilo- (1,000)
Hecto- (100)
Deka- (10)
Deci- (1/10)
Centi- (1/100)
Milli- (1/1,000)
Grams, Liters, Meters

Let's Get Ready To Play

Example 1: Convert 30 Centimeters (cm) to Kilometers (km)

I. Start in the space containing the prefix of the unit (Centi-) that is to be converted. (Please feel free to copy, paste, and print this table as needed.)

II. Not counting the Centi- space, count the number of spaces between Centi- and Kilo-.

Did you count 5 spaces? Which direction did you move? Left, correct? Now, let's put it all together. Consider 30 cm. Start behind the 0. Move 5 spaces to the left. Add placeholders and a decimal point to your new answer. Did you get 0.00030 kilograms?

Example 2: Convert 200 Kilograms (kg) to Grams (g)

Let's try another conversion. Convert 200 kilograms to grams. Remember to start in the Kilo- space. Count over to the Grams (Units) space. How many spaces did you count? 3, correct? In which direction? Right, correct? Start behind the last 0 of 200 kg. Move 3 places to the right and add placeholders. Did you get 200,000 grams? Bravo!

Example 3: Convert 4.65 Milliliters (mm) to Dekaliters (dal)

Remember to start in the Milli- space. Count over to the Deka- space. How many spaces did you count? 4, correct? In which direction? Left, correct? Start at the decimal point in 4.65mm. Move 4 places to the left. Add placeholders and move the decimal point. Did you get 0.000465 dekaliters? That's all it is to it. I think you have it!

Now, it's your turn. Find Metric conversion exercises in a mathematics textbook, worksheet, or from the internet that will allow you to practice these steps. Think of it as playing your favorite board game and have fun with metric conversions made easy!


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