Exploring Capacity: Hands-on Learning

What is capacity? How much is a litre? These were the two questions we planned to explore. I needed to find out what prior knowledge the children had and how I could build on this. So we began with a discussion, I quickly realised that they had limited experience with capacity. They knew that it was measured in millilitres and litres but weren’t sure what those measurements actually meant. IMG_0280So I secretly put one litre of water into five differently shaped containers and the children had estimate how much water was in each. At this point it was clear that they really had no idea what a litre of water looked like. The estimates ranged from 2ml to 2.5L. I then IMG_0281showed them a 1L milk container to give them a reference point and asked them to make a second estimate. Their second estimates were a bit better but they were still amazed when we poured the water out and measured it. They were all a litre!!! The conclusion, the amount of one litre always stays the                                                                                 same but looks  different depending on the container.

IMG_0282The second part of the capacity lesson was hands-on     measuring. I filled a big tub with water and placed a range of different measuring tools on the tables. The children worked in groups to put water into containers, photograph, measure and record (using Explain Everything). They then exported their video to photos and used Easy Blogger Jr. to upload it their own personal blog, this creating another opportunity for them to document their own learning.



Could I have used a simple worksheet and achieved the same outcome? Would I have been able to assess whether or not they could read capacity measurements through a worksheet? I guess the answer is yes, I could have taught, assessed and achieved similar outcomes with a worksheet BUT would it be memorable? Would the children make the connection to the real-life task of measuring liquids? Would it have been authentic? To the latter questions I say no, and I truly do believe that when learning is authentic and real-life connections are easily made the children benefit ten fold. They are more likely to remember the learning and it is more likely to contribute to developing a true love of learning which really is the ultimate goal.


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