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You are HERE >> Mathematics  > Grade 5

Metric Measures and Conversions
By Lisa Williams
January 27, 2002

Some things to Remember when converting  any type of measures:

To convert from a larger to smaller metric unit you always multiply
To convert from a smaller to larger unit you always divide

The latin prefixes used in the metric system literally mean the number they represent.
1 kilogram = 1000 grams
A kilo is 1000 of something just like a dozen is 12 of something.

This is the metric conversion stair chart. You basically take a place value chart turn it sideways and expand it so it looks like stairs. The Latin prefixes literally mean the number indicated. Meter, liter or gram can be used interchangeably. 

You use this chart to convert metric measurements like this: 

  • If you are measuring length use meter. 
  • If you are measuring dry weight use grams.
  • If you are measuring liquid capacity use liter 

For every step upward on the chart you are dividing by 10 or moving the decimal one place to the left..
To convert 1000 milligrams to grams you are moving upward on the stairs: 
Pretend you are standing on the milli-gram stair tread and to get to the 1-gram stair tread you move up 3 steps dividing by 10 each time.
1000/10 = 100         100/10 = 10     10/10 = 1

1000/1000 = 1 
 or use the shortcut and just move the decimal place one place to the left with each step

1000 milligrams = 1 gram.

When you move down the stairs you are multiplying by 10 for each step. SO you are adding a zero to your original number and moving the decimal one place to the right with each step.

   To convert 2 kilometers to meters you move 3 steps down on the chart so you add 3 zeros to the 2.
  2 kilometers = 2000 meters


1.)  3 meters = ______ centimeters

2.)  40 liters = ______ dekaliters

3.)  600 milligrams = _______ grams

4.)  5 kilometers = __________ hectometers

5.)  70 centimeters = _________ meters

6.)  900 deciliters= _______ dekaliters

7.)  John's pet python  measured 600 centimeters long. How many meters long was the snake?

8.) Faith weighed 5 kilograms at birth. How many grams did she weigh?

9.) Jessica drank 4 liters of tea today. How many deciliters did she drink?


1.) 300 centimeters, you walked 2 steps down thereby multiplying by 100 or just add 2 zeros to the original number

2.) 4 dekaliters, you walked up one step thereby dividing by 10, or move your decimal place one place to the left.

3.) 0.6 grams, you walked up 3 steps thereby dividing by 1000, or move your decimal 3 places to the left.

4.) 50 hectometers

5.) 0.7 meters

6.) 9 dekaliters

7.) 6 meters long

8.) 5000 grams

9.) 40 deciliters


Submitted by: Copyright© Lisa Williams I'm a homeschooling mom of 3 elementary school age children. I run a clowning business from my home (Jingles the clown), am pianist for a local church, teach a Sunday School class, teach piano, tutor basic math see Math tutoring and algebra online and I enjoy making people smile. Send a note to Lisa
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