Math Games to Help Kids Understand Capacity

In math, capacity refers to how much liquid or how many items a container can hold. As adults, we consider capacity as part of our everyday lives, whether it's filling up our gas tanks or pouring milk into a cereal bowl. However, if your child is just beginning his or her study of capacity, it can be challenging. Below are some engaging activities to help your child understand the concept.

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How to Make Capacity Fun

Children typically start their study of capacity in third grade, beginning with volume, as a precursor to later geometry studies in area and volume. If your child is just beginning to learn about capacity, it may be difficult for him or her to comprehend how a tall, skinny container can hold the same amount of liquid as a short, squat one. Luckily, the study of capacity lends itself well to hands-on activities, which can help your child gain a better grasp of the subject.

You can help make capacity fun for your child by giving him or her the opportunity to interact with a variety of measuring tools, such as cups, bowls and even tablespoons and teaspoons. Remember that real-life situations, such as cooking, can be valuable opportunities for your child to actively use capacity. It can be especially fun if you participate in capacity activities with your child.

Capacity Activities

1. When you and your child visit an office that has a container filled with candy, encourage him or her to guess how many pieces of candy there are in the container. This can help your child think about capacity and volume as it exists in the real world.

2. At the store, note to your child that milk is sold in a variety of volumes. Engage your child by asking him or her to compare the sizes of various milk containers.

3. When cooking, you can help your child understand capacity by asking him or her to measure ingredients. For instance, your child can learn through hands-on experience that two 1/4 cups have the same capacity as one 1/2 cup.

4. Measure out the same amount of an item or liquid, such as water, dried beans or cereal, into two or more different sized containers. Next, ask your child to hypothesize about which container holds the most. Your child can them use measuring tools to check his or her hypothesis.

You could vary this activity by giving your child a pre-measured amount of liquid. Then, have him or her guess how high the liquid will reach on each of a variety of different sized containers. For instance, if you have a thin, tall glass, the liquid will reach higher than it would in a large bowl.

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