This video from our Focus on the Lesson series demonstrates an activity for teaching capacity in kindergarten and preschool. Students look at two containers and try to determine which one would hold more liquid.
One of the goals from this lesson is to get young students thinking about precise ways to describe their thinking. Many children use general terms—“it’s big!”— when explaining their ideas about measurement. This activity requires children to use more specific words and concepts to clearly explain their thoughts. While one container might be taller, the other might be wider.
Because it reinforces strong, precise vocabulary, Which Holds More? is a great activity for teaching capacity to English Language Learners.
“The language of capacity is difficult for any child but especially English Language Learners,” explains one of the teachers featured in this video. Students are able to practice using these new words, but the concrete objects in the lesson still allow them to fall back to using gesture to communicate their ideas.