Activity Plan 5-6: A Balancing Act
What weighs more: cereal or noodles? Let the children decide.
- Grades: PreK–K
Ready-To-Use Teaching Ideas: Math
- pan balance scale
- dry cereal O's
- dry noodles
- small cup of juice
- small cup of water
- counting toys (bears, disks, checkers)
- small wooden blocks
- chart paper
Objective: Children compare, predict, measure, and record the weight of different items using a pan balance scale.
In Advance: Divide a sheet of chart paper into three columns: Comparing, Predictions, and Conclusions.
1 Show children a pan balance scale and ask them to share what they know about it. Next, ask them to place objects onto the scale to demonstrate the concepts of "heavy" and "light." Explain that objects are the same weight or equal to one another when the balance is even. Place the same type and number of objects onto each side of the scale to demonstrate this concept.
2 Tell the children that they will investigate different types of materials using the pan balance scale. Show them the assortment of materials that they will use to compare, predict, and measure.
3 Place a small wooden block onto one side of the scale and a cracker on the other side. Using the prepared chart paper, list the two materials children are comparing. Ask them to predict how many crackers they will need to add to make the cracker side heavier than the block side. Record their predictions on the chart paper. Invite children to take turns placing a cracker onto the scale until the pan with the block rises higher than the one with the crackers. Next, ask children to predict how many crackers will be equal to the weight of the block. Record the number of crackers used for each investigation in the Conclusions column.
4 Encourage children to continue the investigations. How many mittens will equal the weight of a cup of juice? Are four checkers equal to, or heavier or lighter than, two bears? Record the children's comparisons, predictions, and conclusions.
Sandbox or Said Table: Place a pan balance scale in the sand table or the outdoor sandbox. Provide children with film canisters, small cups, plastic containers, and other vessels that can hold sand. Ask them to measure the sand using a variety of containers. Include water in the investigations so children can measure wet and dry sand.