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United States Customary Units

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Have you ever made many loaves of bread and needed pounds of flour? Take a look at this dilemma.

Jake made many loaves of bread with his Uncle Henry. He needed 12 pounds of flour. How many cups is that?

This Concept is about identifying equivalent customary units of measure. You will be able to convert this quantity by the end of the Concept.

Guidance

Throughout our study of fractions, we have continuously worked with units of measurement. Whether it’s \frac{1}{4} of a pound, 3 \frac{1}{2} feet or 2 \frac{2}{3} cups, we use fractions all of the time when we are measuring things. Think about the seventh grade bake sale. Fractions have been used over and over again.

In this Concept, we will learn more about the units themselves, what they measure and how they relate to each other. By the time you are finished, you’ll be measuring everything you see. Using fractions will help make your measurements even more accurate.

The Customary System of measurement is the system of measurement most widely used in the United States. This system includes measurements of length, mass, volume and units of volume that are mostly used in cooking. Take a look at the chart below.

Customary Units of Length

& \text{inch} \ (in)\\& \text{foot} \ (ft) && 12 \ in.\\& \text{yard} \ (yd) && 3 \ ft.\\& \text{mile} \ (mi) && 5,280 \ ft.

Customary Units of Mass

& \text{ounce} \ (oz)\\& \text{pound} \ (lb) && 16 \ oz.

Customary Units of Volume

& \text{ounce} \ (oz)\\& \text{cup} \ (c) && 8 \ oz.\\& \text{pint}  \ (pt) && 16 \ oz.\\& \text{quart} \ (qt) && 32 \ oz.\\& \text{gallon} \ (gal) && 4 \ qt.

Customary Units of Volume Used in Cooking

& \text{teaspoon} \ (tsp)\\& \text{tablespoon} \ (tbsp) && 3 \ tsp.\\& \text{cup} \ (c) && 16 \ tbsp.

Unlike the metric system, there is not a specific way of relating the customary units of measurement to each other. If a foot is 12 inches, you might expect that the next largest measurement unit of length, a yard, to be 12 feet. However, this is not the case. A yard instead, is 3 feet.

Nevertheless, there are relationships among the units of measurement. For now, it is helpful to refer to the above chart when working with customary units of measurement. As you get more and more familiar with the units and the various measurement tools, you will acquire an automatic sense of measurement and how the various units relate to each other. Let’s look at some examples that deal with equivalence or equal measures.

6 feet = ___ yards

We are going to convert feet into yards. There are three feet in one yard. If we divide 6 feet by 3 feet, we will have the correct number of yards.

6 \div 3 = 2

6 feet = 2 yards

2 tablespoons = ___ teaspoons

We are going to convert tablespoons to teaspoons. To do this, we multiply. There are three teaspoons in one tablespoon.

2 \times 3 = 6

2 tablespoons = 6 teaspoons

There is a hint.

If we go from a larger unit to a smaller unit, we multiply. If we go from a larger unit to a smaller unit, we divide.

Make a note of this rule and then continue with the Concept.

Try a few of these equivalents on your own.

Example A

12 pounds = ______ ounces

Solution: 192

Example B

6 yards = ______ feet

Solution: 18

Example C

48 inches = _____ feet

Solution: 4

Here is the original problem once again.

Jake made many loaves of bread with his Uncle Henry. He needed 12 pounds of flour. How many cups is that?

There are 8 ounces in 1 cup.

There are 16 ounces in 1 pound.

This means that there are 2 cups in one pound.

If Jake used 12 pounds, then we can multiply to find the answer.

12 \times 2 = 24 cups.

This is our answer.

Vocabulary

Customary System
the system of measurement used in the United States.
Equivalence
equal measures
Measurement
Comparing an object to a standard

Guided Practice

Here is one for you to try on your own.

How many fluid ounces is there in 1 gallon?

Answer

There are 32 ounces in 1 quart.

There are four quarts in one gallon.

We can multiply to figure out this problem. Take a look.

32 \times 4 = 128 ounces

This is our answer.

Video Review

This is a James Sousa video on equivalent customary units of length.

This is a James Sousa video on equivalent customary units of capacity.

This is a James Sousa video on equivalent customary units of mass.

Practice

Directions: Fill in the blanks with the equivalent measurement.

1. 6 pints = ___ quarts

2. 2 cups = ___ tablespoons

3. 3 \frac{1}{2} pounds = ___ ounces

4. \frac{1}{2} mile = ___ feet

5. 56 ounces = ___ pounds

6. 24 inches = ___ feet

7. 5 \frac{1}{2} feet = ___ inches

8. \frac{1}{2} pound = ___ ounces

Directions: Fill in the blanks with the equivalent measurements for 3 yards.

9. ___ inches

10. ___ feet

Directions: Fill in the blanks with the equivalent measurements for 4 cups.

11. ___ tablespoons

12. ___ teaspoons

13. ___ pounds

14. ___ ounces

15. ___ tons

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