Section 5: Investigating distance

Key Focus Question: What practical and imaginative approaches can you use to develop pupils’ understanding of distance?

Keywords: measurement; length; distance; comparison; active; practical; group; pair; investigative; proof

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this section, you will have:

  • developed ways of teaching measurement of length in a more pupil-centred way;
  • developed your ability to organise, support and assess practical investigations around distance.


This section will help you develop pupils’ understanding of estimating, measuring, drawing, experimenting, constructing, interpreting and calculating lengths and distances.

Investigations can be done in class, individually or in groups. They can also be done at home by individual pupils, and either be presented to the whole class verbally or be formally as written work. Investigations are based on having an idea or a phenomenon that you want to find out about. To do this, you undertake various tasks in order to find answers to your questions. Investigations can include practical work, but can also take the form of research as you search books etc. for answers. For further information about investigation see Key Resource: Using investigations in the classroom [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

1. Organising an investigation