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Understanding Volume Measurements (0 Favorites)

ACTIVITY in Measurements, Volume. Last updated June 30, 2021.


Summary

In this activity, students will use base ten-centimeter blocks to fill containers in order to understand the concept of volume. Through discussion and review of the data, the teacher will lead them to discover the formula for determining volume.

Grade Level

Elementary School

NGSS Alignment

This activity will help prepare your students to meet the performance expectations in the following standards:

  • 5-PS1-3: Make observations and measurements to identify materials based on their properties.
  • Scientific and Engineering Practices:
    • Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking
    • Analyzing and Interpreting Data

Objectives

By the end of this activity, students should be able to

  • Demonstrate an understanding of volume.
  • Use formula to calculate volume of rectangular prism.
  • Record data properly in a table.

Chemistry Topics

This activity supports student understanding of

  • Measurement
  • Volume

Time

Teacher Preparation: 30 minutes
Lesson:  60 minutes

Materials (per student)

Safety

  • Students should be reminded to be careful when using scissors and to carry scissors safely, point them down.

Teacher Notes

  • This lesson was designed for students in 2nd-4th grade. Students should have some understanding of multiplication and area. You will lead students to discover the formula for volume. l x w x h = V
  • Students will explore volume using cubes and containers. First estimating and recording how many will fit then, recording the actual number that fit. Teachers can introduce this concept by using cups and containers with all students.
  • Students will use grid paper to create boxes to hold cubes. Again, estimating first then finding the actual capacity. Teacher will lead students to discover that the volume can be determined mathematically.
  • Background:
    • Khan Academy has a helpful Volume Review section that could be beneficial for the teacher to review.
    • Volume (or capacity) are used to measure substances that can be poured such as water. The unit we will use in this activity are centimeter cubes. To understand what volume means we will be making rectangular prisms.
  • Part 1:
    • Use box A (box cutouts are available for download) or create your own box with different dimensions. Model how to cut out boxes and tape them together for students.
    • Note that on the cutouts included with this activity that the black tabs are to help in attaching the sides of the boxes. Make all creases before taping. Fold so the grid is on the outside of the box. You may need to be very specific about how much tape to use.
    • Instruct students to record their estimate before putting cubes in box.
    • Students should make an estimate and then find the actual number of cubes needed to fill a box.
    • Next, make an estimate for another box. As students gain experience, their estimates should become closer to the actual number of cubes needed. Make sure students fill the box completely without gaps.
    • Once students have completed the data table, I suggest having them check their own work with the answer key. Note: I suggest making answer key copies on colored paper for students to check their work. Make sure to cut apart the key for Part 1 and Part 2. You do not want students to see answers for Part 2 when checking Part 1.
    • If you do this, minimize the number of students waiting in line to check work by posting several copies around the classroom.
  • Part 2:
    • Gather students together to define base: width and length.  The height is how tall the box is. Model this with box A. Show students how to fill in the data table for part 2. 
    • Again, either check their work once completed or have a key available for self-checking.
    • Students should respond to prompt on bottom of Part 2.
  • Once most have completed part 2, gather students together to discuss what students wrote as a response to the question: What if you didn’t have blocks? How could you determine the volume of a box? Do you have any ideas about a rule for figuring the volume of a rectangular prism (box)? Lead students to discover the formula for volume of a rectangular prism. l x w x h = V
  • Finally, I suggest showing students the short video about volume from MathAntics (~12 minutes).
  • Optional Enrichment activity:
    • Using grid paper (cardstock), students create containers/boxes of their own for others to use to estimate and determine actual volume.

For the Student

Lesson

Background

Volume or capacity is used to measure substances that can be poured such as water.

Problem

How is volume measured?

Materials

  • Base ten centimeter cubes
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Pencil
  • Box Cutouts

Safety

  • Be careful when using scissors, and point them down when carrying.

Procedure: Part 1

  1. Look at cut out A. How many cubes do you think will fit inside once the box is cut out and put together? Record your guess in the “estimate” part of the data table.
  2. Cut out box A. The black tabs are to help connect the edges. Fold on the dotted lines and tape it together. You may adjust your estimate if needed.
  3. Fill the box completely with cubes. Record how many cubes fit without any extra space or gaps in the “actual” part of the data table.
  4. Repeat these steps with each box B, C, and D.
  5. Once you have completed the data table check your answers. Make corrections to actual numbers if needed.
  6. Complete the Analysis question in the space provided underneath the data table.

Procedure: Part 2

  1. In the data table record the number of cubes for the width and length of the base (the bottom of the box).
  2. Record the height of the box in the data table.
  3. After you have completed the entire data table for all boxes, A, B, C and D, check your answers. Make corrections to actual numbers if needed.
  4. Look carefully at the numbers recorded.
  5. Write the volume, the total number of cubes, used to fill the boxes.
  6. Complete the Analysis question in the space provided underneath the data table.

Data Table: Part 1

Estimate
Box
Actual
A
B
C
D

Analysis: Part 1

What if you didn’t have blocks? How could you determine the volume of a box? Do you have any ideas about a rule for figuring the volume of a rectangular prism (box)? Discuss with your neighbors.

Data Table: Part 2

Box
length
width
height
volume
A
B
C
D
E

Analysis: Part 2

Write what you notice about those numbers and the volume of each of the boxes. Discuss with your neighbors.