Introduction to Volume – Manipulatives (starting with perimeter and area)

Here is a Jamboard to introduce volume and units of volume. (See photo at very bottom for making a copy to edit.)

The students start with building an animal pen and shading in the space inside. The hands on approach and connection to prior knowledge of a fenced in area for animals sets the stage for actual measurement units in subsequent slides.

The photos below show how students will count out meters and square meters, adding a formal layer to the fence they built previously.

The following slide provides an entry point to understanding volume and units for volume. The students count out cubes, building on the counting of meters and square meters. The cubes were created using WORD Paint 3D. Here is an article I used to create these. For the grid that is tilted, I used functions on WORD – see this document. (I could have used Paint again.) I then show them the prism that is created but I am not discussing shapes yet to keep the focus on the concept of volume.

I then have students recreate the volume using NCTM’s Illuminations activity called Cubes.

Finally, I show examples of volume and move from cubic units to liters (litres – as I was initially teaching this lesson to a 5th grade class in India).

Make a copy and you can edit it.

Shopping is Dense with Math Tasks

I recently worked with a student on an online grocery shopping activity – finding ingredients for mac and cheese. We had the ingredients listed in a column on a Google Doc (allows both of us to edit the doc simultaneously) and then he cropped and pasted a photo of each ingredient (see photo below). The goal was for him to identify the total he need and the total cost in planning for actual shopping or to continue with the online shopping. Note: he wasn’t actually buying anything at this point but this was a step in preparing him to do so.

This activity is dense with math tasks and shopping related tasks. The math tasks include the following:

  • Identify the price (vs quantity of the item or unit price).
  • Interpret the quantity for the ingredient.
  • Identify the units (oz and cups)
  • Convert units
  • Compare amount in box with amount needed.
  • Determine how much more is needed, if any.
  • Compare choices before selecting the item, (Barilla Pasta vs another brand).

To convert units, the “mathy” approach can be used or the student may simply use an app. For this student we chose an online unit converter (see below). This is more complicated that it appears. The student must choose the units and the order (in this case convert cups to ounces or vise versa), distinguish between imperial and US cups, understand that you enter the quantity (the search results in 1 US ounce appearing by default), and then interpret the decimal (keep in mind the ingredient quantities are in fractions).

Life skills math is more complex and challenging that parents and educators may realize. As a result, the planning for developing these skills should begin much sooner rather than later – not to mention the actual logistical tasks of shopping, e.g. finding an item in the grocery store.