Lesson Plan:

Capacity Comparison

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August 17, 2015
by Margie Morrissey

Learning Objectives

Students will demonstrate knowledge of capacity by using one container to compare the capacity of different containers.


Introduction (10 minutes)

  • Explain to students that today they are going to show you what they know about the capacity of an object, or the maximum amount an object can hold.
  • Let students know that today's class will be held outside in the sandbox.
  • Give the students 3-5 different containers, such as pudding containers, applesauce containers, and yogurt containers.
  • Give each student a scoop of some kind, such as measuring spoons.

Explicit Instruction/Teacher Modeling (15 minutes)

  • Go out to the sand pit.
  • Have students bring their math journals and pencils with them.

Guided Practice/Interactive Modeling (5 minutes)

  • Give students 5 minutes to make their estimates of how many scoops each container will hold. Have students record their estimates in their journals.
  • To show their mastery of relative size, you can ask your students to record their estimates in size order, from greatest to least.

Independent Working Time (10 minutes)

  • After recording their estimations, students will take their containers and scoops into the sand and start filling them. Remind the students to record the number of scoops for each container.



  • 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.


Assessment (15 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?

Review and Closing (10 minutes)

  • Have two or three students discuss their findings by following this format: "My estimate for this container was ____ scoops and it held ____ scoops. I thought that this container would hold ____ scoops but it held ____ scoops." Have students explain why they think they were correct or incorrect.

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