Capacity: the maximum amount something can contain.
In order to teach my students this term, I purchased four new sensory tubs from Amazon.com. I must have grabbed them on sale because I told my co-worker about them and the price was ten dollars more expensive the next day. I snagged four for $43.00 which was about ten dollars for each bin! I was beyond excited.
Here is the link if you want to watch it in case it goes down again! http://amzn.to/1S4f251
To teach my students about capacity we explored filling containers with a variety of materials.
The first station included recycled containers, measuring cups, a scale, and rice.
The second station was my sensory table that was filled with water . I added our plastic three dimensional shapes, mason jars, and pitchers.
The third station included a sensory bin filled with water, sphere ice cubes, and a scale.
To being the exploration time, I explained the definition of capacity (the maximum amount something can contain) and told them their task was to find out how much each container at their station could hold. They quickly got to work filling containers and trying to determine which one held the most. Some students then suggested using the scale to see which container held the most. They stayed at each station for about ten minutes and then had to set it back up for the next group. With each rotation, more and more observations and discoveries were made.
This was a great way to build schema and get the ball rolling.
The next day, I filled two containers with water. (I wish I took a picture!) One was tall and skinny and the other was short and wide. I colored the water in the tall and skinny jar blue and the water from the short jar yellow. I then asked my students which container they thought would hold the most amount of water. This produced a REALLY great discussion. Some students were CERTAIN that the tall skinny jar would hold the most. While others believed that the wider jar would hold more.
I then took out two identical mason jars and poured the blue water into one and the yellow water into the second. To the surprise of MANY students, the short wide jar held more water than the tall jar!
We then completed one last experiment. For this one, I set out three muffin pans, a pitcher of water, and waterbeads. At first I filled up one section from the first muffin tin FULL of water beads. We talked about how I was filling the section to capacity.
In the second muffin tin, I filled one section half way with waterbeads.
In the third muffin tin, I filled one section with just a few waterbeads.
I then had my students fill up each section with beads with water. I reminded them that capacity was the MAXIMUM amount that the section could hold so they could not overflow the section. I then set the sensory tub to the side and asked my students which waterbeads they thought would get the BIGGEST. They were convinced that the first muffin tin would produce the biggest beads. However, after about 15 minutes, they began to notice something astounding. The muffin tin that had the LEAST amount of waterbeads was producing the LARGEST beads! I asked them why this happened and they responded with,
“The waterbeads (in the third muffin tin) were beginning to fill to capacity!”
“These (the waterbeads in the first muffin tin) don’t have enough water! They need more space!”
With that, my students asked if we could take beads from the first section and divide them in the different sections.
They carefully worked together to divide the beads and then asked if they could fill each section to capacity with water.
Throughout the morning, the beads got bigger and bigger and my students could not help but talk about capacity. By exploration centers, all the beads had ‘filled to capacity’ and were ready to play with!
We had a blast with these activities and I even had a parent text me saying her daughters went home and “played capacity” in their sandbox after school that week! Things like that make me SO happy!
I hope that you are having a great week!