Guided Lessons

Capacity Comparison

Your class will love this outdoor activity that teaches them how to compare the capacity of different containers.
Need extra help for EL students? Try theExploring CapacityPre-lesson.

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Need extra help for EL students? Try theExploring CapacityPre-lesson.

In this maths and measurement lesson plan, young learners will explore how various containers have different capacities. Children will learn or review key terms such as “capacity,” “attributes,” and “prediction.” Then, after recording their own predictions, young scientists will measure scoops of water into different containers and record how many scoops of water it takes to fill them to capacity. Geared toward kids in year one through year three, this hands-on activity is a great way to introduce young minds to the scientific process.

Students will be able to compare the capacity of different containers based on the container's attributes.

The adjustment to the whole group lesson is a modification to differentiate for children who are English learners.
(10 minutes)
• Gather the students together and show them your cup of water, tea, or coffee.
• Ask the students to think-pair-share what the maximum amount of liquid your cup can hold is called.
• Allow a few students to share their ideas with the rest of the class.
• Explain to the students that the maximum amount of liquid your cup can hold is called its Capacity.
• Tell the students that today they will be comparing the capacity of different containers based on the container's Attributes.
(15 minutes)
• Put the students in small groups of 5–6 students. Pass out the plastic coverings and ask students to tape/drape the coverings over their tables.
• Give each small group 3–5 different containers including pudding containers, applesauce containers, rectangular tupperware containers, yogurt containers, and tin cans. Each small group needs the same containers.
• Provide each group with a scoop of some kind, such as a measuring cup (1/2 cup or 1 cup). Make sure each small group has the same size scoop.
• Place the bucket of water on each table.
• Explain to the students that in their small groups, they will first predict how many scoops they think each container will hold (e.g. The tin can will hold ____Scoops of water.) They should record this information in their maths journals.
• Model completing a PredictionTo support students in understanding the task.
(5 minutes)
• Ask a small group to model the process and orally share their prediction with the rest of the class.
• Give students five minutes to make their predictions. Rotate around the classroom and support students as needed.
(10 minutes)
• Instruct students to figure out how many scoops of water each object holds and record their findings in their maths journals.
• Provide sentence frames to support students in writing down their findings, such as:
• My prediction was right/wrong because the ____(object) held ____(number) scoops. I thought the ____(object) would hold ____Scoops.

Enrichment:Advanced students may want to measure the capacity of more objects or oddly shaped objects.

Support:Struggling students may benefit from working with a partner.

(10 minutes)
• Have students indicate which container has the greatest capacity and which container has the least capacity.
• Ask students to answer these questions in their journal: Which container has the greatest capacity? How do you know?
(5 minutes)
• Allow a few students to share out their findings.
• Hold a discussion about how the attributes of the objects might have caused them to predict the capacity would be less or more than its actual capacity.