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This week: Volume and capacity

This is a practical, hands on activity with lots of problem solving and discussion. The most important part is the thinking and discussion that takes place. Asking your child to explain why they believe something when estimating or explaining why they have the outcome they do.

Have fun, set some boundaries, and maybe have a towel nearby in case their predictions go very wrong!! If you have an outside space for this activity, so much the better!


Collect a variety of bottles or containers in lots of different shapes and sizes. Discuss their properties; tall, short, round, most, least, curvy etc.

Then ask your child to sort them in a line from the one that holds the least water to the one that holds the most.

Ask your child to explain their decisions, resist the urge to give anything away by your tone, face, body language.

Otherwise your child may change their mind or the order not because they have thought about it, rather because they think you don’t believe it is correct.


It is far better and lots more beneficial to your child if you let them make a mistake and then address their misconception!

Next, ask your child for ideas on how they can test their order to see if it was right? Once again, let them use their idea first (even if it is ridiculous and inefficient!) and then address this when they realise it’s not working or they are becoming frustrated.



Chat about why certain bottles/containers hold more/less than others. Is it always the tallest one which holds the most? Why?


Problem Solving

Label the containers 1, 2, 3, 4 etc.

Then ask; How many number 1’s will it take to fill container number 5? Your child should estimate first, then test their hypothesis. Again, more discussions around were they correct? How many more/less did it actually take?



Allow and actively encourage your child to explore the different containers. How many of each does it take to fill another?

Mark a large plastic bottle with numbers up the side. Then ask your child to estimate how many cups/scoops it takes to get the bottle to number 6 etc?



Introduce vocabulary such as full, empty, half full, most, least.


This topic must be explored and revisited over the week. Do not try to do everything in one session. Rather, concentrate on one aspect and let your child investigate this fully.


If your child poses their own questions or problems to solve, so much the better as it shows they are trying to reason and thinking critically.

The questions you can pose are endless, can they find another container that holds the same as number 4?

Which container would you use to fill a paddling pool? Why?