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Juicy dilemma

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By John Davis — primary school teacher and educational writer

Estimating and comparing different measures

You will need

A range of plastic containers and bottles; word labels (see below); coloured water; jugs; yogurt pots; simple graded measuring cylinders.

What to do

Display six identical clear plastic containers each holding different quantities of fruit drink. Write out six cards with the words nearly full, full, half-empty, empty, half-full and nearly empty on them. Invite the class to help you to label the appropriate containers.

Repeat the activity, this time mixing up the containers and asking children to re-label them. Discuss which pairs of containers hold the same amounts of fruit drink.

With Reception children, consolidate the vocabulary full, half-full and empty by providing identical containers which the children have to fill with different amounts of water.

Introduce Year 1 children to the terms more than a litre, about a litre and less than a litre. Ask them to measure out these quantities using a measuring jug and to label them correctly.

Encourage Year 2 children to make their own graduated measure by pouring known capacities of water, such as 100ml measures, into clear plastic containers and marking the side with a felt-tipped pen. They can then use these ‘home-made’ measures as the basis for further measuring activities.


Collect commercial containers with capacities clearly shown on the labels. Encourage the children to check the capacities stated using measuring cylinders.



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