Simple Ideas for Teaching Volume and Capacity



This week I have enjoyed thinking about creative ways to look at volume and capacity.  I couldn’t resist snapping a picture of a great example of a right prism (the pallet of toilet paper) when visiting a shopping centre.  Check out your local supermarket for lots more ideas!

 Large volumes:

Using this picture as an inspiration, here are some questions that I would ask kids:

  1. How many packets of toilet paper are in the stack?  Remember that one packet is missing from the top layer but that all of the other layers are full.
  2. If each packet contains 5 x 2 x 2 toilet rolls, how many toilet rolls are in the stack?  Remember that one packet is missing from the top layer but that all of the other layers are full.
  3. Estimate how long this amount of toilet paper would last in your family.  Show your working.

 Small volumes:

Using kitchen measuring spoons and cups as an inspiration, here are some ideas for investigating with your class:

  1. How many tablespoons do you think it would take to fill one cup?
  2. Use a measuring syringe to measure 5mL of water.  Can you fit all of the water into a teaspoon?  How does it compare?
  3. How many cups fill up one litre?  Two litres?  Three litres?
  4. Are all coffee cups and drinking glasses the same as “one cup measure”?
  5. How much can “one spoonful” of sugar added to a cup of coffee change when it is heaped rather than flat?  Try a competition for which student can get the most sugar onto one teaspoon.  It is rather enlightening!
  6. Investigate adding specific small volumes of food dye to set volumes of water.  Compare how the colours alter with given amounts, especially when mixing two different colours together.





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