Understand Volume Using Sugar Cubes

What You Need:

  • Sugar cubes
  • Pencil
  • Paper

What You Do:

  1. Before you begin, it is a good idea to review the basic formula for calculating volume with your child. For a rectangular prism, length x width x height = volume.
  2. Using sugar cubes, have your child build a rectangular prism of any size. To ease into the concept, encourage him to start small and work his way toward building bigger models.
  3. Have your child count and record the dimensions of the rectangular prism. How many sugar cubes long is it? How many sugar cubes high is it? How many sugar cubes wide is it?
  4. Help him substitute these recorded dimensions into the volume formula for a rectangular prism. Record the answer that he comes up with.
  5. In order to check his answer, he can simply take his prism apart and count the sugar cubes!
  6. If his answer was correct, have him build a new model and try the formula again. If he got the answer wrong, help him check his calculations and see where the mistake occurred.
  7. Practice makes perfect! Encourage him to try this hands-on activity often. With repetition, the concept of volume and its formula will become second nature to him!

Another option for this activity is to make a building out of multiple rectangular prisms and then help your child figure out how to mentally break down the building into separate rectangular prisms. He’ll find the volume of each section in order to calculate the volume of the whole building. Then, he can physically break down the building and check his answer!

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