a boy walking with a white cane

Kilometer Walk

Students who are blind and visually impaired learn base units and prefixes in the metric system by walking a kilometer.

As students with visual impariments learn the base units and prefixes in the metric system, I often employ  this simple activity.  It helps to solidify their  understanding of the meter as the base unit of length in the metric system and the value of the prefix kilo (1,000). 

It also gives the students a sense of the length of a kilometer as they may often hear distance measured utilizing this unit


Braille meterstick from APH
Braille meterstick from APH


No preparation is necessary for this activity other than gathering a meter stick for each student and one trundle wheel for the activity.


Choose a nice day for this activity as the students will be outside.

Warm Up:  After instruction in the metric unit of lenth (meter) and prefixes, pass out the APH metersticks in the appropriate reading mediums for the students.  If instruction occured on the previous day, ask the students if they remember what this unit is called. Discuss and remind students that this unit is the meter.  Proceed to review the metric prefixes. 

Ask students whether a kilometer is longer or shorter than a meter.  Discuss.  After discussion, tell the students that today’s activity is called a kilometer walk.

Guided: Begin the walk by introducing the tool to be utilized, the trundle wheel. 

Divide the 1,000 meters by the number of students in the class.  If necessary, have students use a talking calculator to make this calculation.  Students will walk as a group but each student will roll the trundle wheel for the prescribed number of meters. Take the straightest route possible after exiting the building.  If time is an issue, the group may turn around after 500 meters as the entire walk will then be 1,000 meters or 1 kilometer.  If time is abundant, the kilometer walk can be one-way and the group can walk back without utilzing the trundle wheel.  As you walk, have the student who is rolling the trundle wheel keep count if possible.  If necessary, assist with this.  As you walk, remind students that this entire distance will be 1 kilometer.  Periodically along the walk, ask each student about the length of a kilometer, reminding them that kilo means 1,000.  As you complete the walk, recap the purpose for this activity.

Closure: As you arrive back to the classroom, either have the students answer a multiple choice question on the length of the kilometer or have each student right a sentence on what he/she learned about a kilometer today. 


This walk could also teach the prefixes deka(10) and/or  hecto(100) by walking 10 or 100 meters in addition to 1,000. 

NGSS Standards:

(5-PSI-2 and 5-PSI-3)

By Laura Hospitál

Collage of kilometer walk

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