Kids learn best when they are having fun. Hands-on math activities are one way to do that. This hands-on measuring volume activity is guaranteed to be a huge hit, and it is super easy to set up.
- Dry Rice or Beans
- Measuring Cups
- Plastic Containers of Different Shapes and Sizes
- Measuring Spoons (optional)
- Large Shallow Container (optional)
The multi-colored rainbow rice we have for sensory bin filler was perfect for this activity. To create an invitation to explore measurement, I poured the rice into a large, shallow container and added our measuring cups, spoons, and several small plastic containers of various sizes. Don’t have a large enough container? Just pour the rice into a container wide enough to scoop from. Setting it up on a tablecloth will help with clean-up.
We used our measuring math station for several days.
Day 1: The first day we used this math bin, I allowed the kids to freely explore the containers, pouring rice from one to the next. I listened in as they commented about how many of the smaller containers they thought it would take to fill a larger one. Eventually a few small toys were added to the bin, all part of the learning through play experience.
Day 2: The next day I set the math station up a bit differently, placing all the rice into a smaller container that the kids could scoop out of. The other containers and measuring cups were placed nearby. To introduce the idea of measuring volume, I asked them to figure out which of the containers could hold the most rice. Then I asked them to compare different pairs of containers to figure out which one would hold the most. They were surprised to discover several differently shaped containers that held the same amount. I allowed them to continue to explore on their own.
Day 3: On the third day of our measuring activity we focused on fractions.
This time around we looked at the measuring cups and talked about which one held the most. Then I asked them to figure out how many 1/4 cup measuring cups it would take to fill the 1 cup measuring cup. After they saw it took 4, I asked them to use that knowledge to guess how many 1/2 cup and 1/3 cup measuring cups it would take to fill the 1 cup measuring cup. Then we tested their theories. It was a great hands-on way for them to see just what those fractions mean.
- Allow the kids to use colored water to explore measurements. This is great to do outside on a warm day, or take the activity to the bathtub.
- Try other units of measurement. How many cups does it take to fill a pint container? What about a quart or a gallon?
- Take the measuring to a new level and add in weights. Use a digital scale to find out how much a quart of rice weighs. Does a quart of water weigh the same?
This simple hands-on math activity was a fun way to teach measurement of volume. For more fun learning ideas, subscribe to my twice monthly newsletter. Sign up here.
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