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Teaching Capacity

by Gail Englert

A response to the question:

Could you give suggestions teaching capacity?

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I need to have an article for class tomorrow on teaching capacity and I cannot find one. Please help!



Dear Diane,

This isn't an article... but it is an activity I have done to help students relate the different units of capacity they might not be totally familiar with. We begin with a piece of 8.5 X 11 paper, and label that "one gallon." We fold it in half (a "hamburger fold," if you are familiar with that term... if not, we fold it to make two short, fat rectangles, as opposed to two long thin rectangles). This becomes the body of our "Gallon Guy" or "Gallon Gal," with the fold a belt around the guy/gal's waist.

Now, take another sheet of paper, and fold it to make four long thin strips. These are the arms and legs for the Gallon Guy/Gal. Attach one strip to each upper corner, and two to the lower edge. Label each of these strip "one quart." Have the students compare the size of these four "quarts" with the entire "gallon."

Now take another sheet of paper and fold and cut four more of the long strips. Cut each of these strips in half to make two (eight in all) short, fat rectangles. Use two of the rectangles to make each foot (long and thin), and each hand (short and fat). Attach them to the appropriate locations on the Gallon Guy/Gal. Label each small rectangle a "pint", and note that each hand and foot uses two of them... Have students compare the sizes of these "pints" with the gallon and the quarts. Have them turn the gallon guy/gal over to label the back of each pint with the words "two cups." Help them relate to how much a cup is by having them look at the milk carton in the cafeteria. Most are one cup in capacity. (If you wanted, you could have your students cup out the 16 "cups" from yet another sheet of paper and glue them to hands and feet as "fingers and toes"...

Finish off the Gallon Guy/Gal with a paper plate head.

My fourth and fifth grade students alwasy enjoy this activity. I leave mine hanging in the room to use as a reference, and they take theirs home to share with parents.

-Gail, for the T2T service

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