How Tall Are You in Pennies?


Sixteen pennies, stacked, is one inch.

English: Large amount of pennies
Large number of pennies (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


  • As many pennies as you can find
  • A one-foot ruler
  • A three-foot yardstick
  • Pencil
  • Doorjamb
  • Paper


  • Count out 16 pennies
  • Stack the pennies
  • Measure the stack. It should be one inch tall.
  • Measure how tall each grandchild is, first using a ruler, then using a yardstick, drawing a line next to the top of their head on the nearest doorjamb
  • Calculate and write down how tall they are in inches by adding 12 inches for each foot in the ruler, or 36 inches for the three-foot yardstick, plus whatever number of inches in a partial foot or yard that remains
  • Calculate how tall you are in inches (I am 5 feet, 6 inches tall.)
  • To calculate my height: 12 inches (ruler) + 12 inches + 12 inches + 12 inches + 12 inches + 6 inches OR the 36 inches of a yardstick + 30 more inches = 66 inches
  • Calculate how many pennies you need if you could stack them up to the height of each grandchild, and for you (for me, it would be 16 pennies x 66 inches = 1,056 pennies tall
  • Optional: see how high you can stack the pennies before they fall over
  • Optional: think of other things to measure in pennies, particularly things that are only a few inches high, like toys, steps, a glass of milk, a sandwich, a caterpillar.

What Should Happen?

Using a yardstick to measure grandchildren and converting that measure to a stack of 16 pennies that is equal to an inch, helps your grandchildren get comfortable in converting one type of measure to another.

Using a ruler, then a yardstick makes it easier to see why you want to use a measure close in length to what you are measuring. You wouldn’t use a football field, for instance, to measure how tall you are. A yardstick, at three feet, is an easy benchmark for things that are a few feet high, like grandchildren.

Converting from one measure to another can make adding and subtracting numbers or measuring easier with the standard you have converted into.

Why Is This Important?

We often convert when cooking, from tablespoons or ounces to cups, from cups to pints or pounds.

Just as it is easier to measure people with a yardstick (three feet) than a ruler (one foot), in cooking, some ingredients are easier to measure in small quantities (1 teaspoon salt) and some in large quantities (2 cups of flour). But, if you double or triple a recipe, it might be helpful to convert to larger measures (3 teaspoons of salt = 1 tablespoon; 6 cups of flour = 3 pounds).

A cup contains eight ounces of liquid. A stick of butter contains eight tablespoons or half a cup.

“A pint’s a pound the world around.” A pint contains 16 ounces or two cups.

Thanks to the MegaPenny project for inspiring this activity.


Carol Covin, Granny-Guru

Author, “Who Gets to Name Grandma? The Wisdom of Mothers and Grandmothers”



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Comments (5 )

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  1. patweber says:

    I think my granddaughters would have fun with all of this. They might want to use quarters though if they get to keep their their height! Thanks for another great idea Cheryl.

  2. Susan Cooper says:

    Love this activity. If I were still teaching school, this would be a fun one to do, minus keeping the pennies. I also like how it aides in quality conversions for recipes :)))

    • Carol Covin says:

      Thanks, Susan. As the activity developed, I realized that conversions are one of the most important lessons!

  3. JeriWB says:

    I can see kids liking this for many different reasons.