A 60 minute lesson in which students will be introduced to and explore the concept of capacity.
Small containers of different capacities
Small informal units for measuring capacity
Play a game of ‘Fill the Container’. Break the class into groups and provide each group with a container (be sure to vary the sizes). Instruct the students to fill their container with an informal unit chosen by the teacher e.g. small cubes, marbles, counters. This could be turned into a race to see which group can fill their container in the fastest time.
Afterwards, allow the groups to share how many of the chosen informal units they could fit into their containers. Initiate a discussion regarding whether or not the game was fair. Lead the students to the idea that the different containers could hold different amounts of the chosen units, depending on their size.
Choose one of the containers to examine in greater detail. Invite the class to share ideas about the different ways that it can be measured e.g. length, width, height, mass, volume. Draw attention to the space inside the container and inform the students that this can also be measured. Introduce the term ‘capacity’ and its definition (how much a container will hold). Look at the different capacities of the containers used in the group activity and discuss how many of the informal units could fit inside the spaces.
Show the class an object that does not have capacity e.g. a book. Discuss how you can tell that the object cannot hold anything inside (that is, there is no space that can be filled within the object). Invite the students to find objects from around the classroom that have capacity, as well as objects that do not have capacity.