So we finally come to a subject none of us likes talking much about--weight! Because, you know at some point one of your little darlings is going to ask, "How much do ** you** weigh?". Luckily, in kindergarten, we deal strictly in non-standard units of measurement. So I'm honest. I tell them.

Approximately 15,000 cubes.

If they can figure out how many pounds that is, then I really am a phenomenal problem-solving teacher!

Texas kindergartners are only required to * compare* 2 objects based on their weights. A truck weighs more than a book. An apple weighs less than the school. You get it. But,

**, I usually expose my kids to using a balance and weighing with non-standard units.**

*if they are ready*The student directly compares the attributes of length, area, weight/mass, capacity, and/or relative temperature. The student uses comparative language to solve problems and answer questions. The student is expected to:

(D) compare two objects according to weight/mass (heavier than, lighter than or equal to).

- K.MD.1. Describe measurable attributes of objects, such as length or weight. Describe several measurable attributes of a single object.
- K.MD.2. Directly compare two objects with a measurable attribute in common, to see which object has “more of”/“less of” the attribute, and describe the difference.
*For example, directly compare the heights of two children and describe one child as taller/shorter.*

Day 1

To introduce this concept, we simply practice comparing weights by holding different objects in our hands. Of course, some objects are a little too heavy to actually pick up. Luckily, the kids already have a solid schema--most can easily tell you that a car weighs more than a soccer ball.

I have the kids use their water bottles and find objects that weigh less and weigh more. They record their answers in their math journals, and we make a class chart, as well.

The interesting part comes when they find an object that is fairly close in weight to the water bottle. Even I would have a hard time determining which one actually weighs more, so that presents an excellent opportunity to discuss--How can we know for sure which one weighs more? (We'll get to that in a few days when we start measuring with cubes.)

Another excellent discussion to have is:

How does an object's size affect its weight? Does bigger always mean heavier?

I pull out several objects specifically for this conversation--a feather, a marble, a beach ball and a baseball. First, I ask the kids Which ones are bigger? Both the feather and the beach ball are bigger. Then I ask Which ones are heavier? The marble is heavier than the feather, even though it is bigger. And the beach ball is much lighter than baseball, even though it is much bigger.

Why? Most kids will quickly realize that the beach ball is full of air, and air is very light. It's fun to hear what they think is inside of a baseball (rock). After some discussion, we decide that the more "stuff" (or matter) is inside of a given area, the more it will weigh.

Then we discuss the difference between weight and mass.

Just kidding!

I don't actually want to get too technical and risk the formation of misconceptions. I just want them to see that **size and weight are not always related and that big objects can sometimes be light and that small objects can sometimes be heavy.**

Warm-Up

As a follow-up activity/warm-up, I have the kids complete a heavy/light sort in their math journals.

WHAT is a "shoebox" balance, you ask? Only one of my favorite activities ever! Full disclosure: My team makes fun of me for this activity. I don't know why--it's an excellent way for children to figure out how a balance works. I never introduce "real" balances until we have played with our shoebox balances for a while.

You will need: a cylindrical object of some sort (a can works); a long, flat object (like a shoebox lid); and some play-doh (obviously, dollar store stuff works just fine).

Place a blob of play-doh on the table and place the can into it. This is so the can will not roll away. The can needs to be as straight as possible, so be careful to push the can down into the play-doh evenly.

Now, balance the lid on top of the can. Do not use play-doh to stick the lid on the can. That's cheating. Just balance it. It takes practice. I let the kids practice balancing the lid with nothing in it until they get the hang of it. They are learning that the lid has to be centered on the can for it to work. Why? Because then, the same amount of lid is on each side--so each side "weighs" the same.

After a while, I let the kids start placing objects on each side of the "balance." I give them an assortment of my mixed math tools--cubes, counters, etc. **I do not tell them how to do it--I let them figure it out on their own!** If one side falls down, they figure out that they have to add something to the other side. If that side then falls down, they might take that object out and try something lighter. It's all about trial and error. **They are problem-solving!**

They are gaining a solid understanding of how a balance works. (You might notice that my kids are using domino box lids and plastic cylinders from a building set I have. Whatever works!)

By the way, if you see this (look below), you might want to discuss with the students why it's not quite right. Technically, it *is* balanced. But because it is not on the curved part of the cylinder, it's a whole lot easier!

So as my kids are exploring, I ask them---Does this remind you of anything? Usually, someone will say a teeter-totter, or see-saw. I ask them how a see-saw works--and how that is like our shoebox balances? The light side goes up...the heavy side goes down! And what has to happen to make it balance? Both sides have to be the same weight--or equal.

Would it be fun to play on a see-saw with an elephant? No--because the elephant is so much heavier, you would be stuck in the air all the time. This is something that most kids can relate to--connecting their new learning to what they already know.

Finally, I have my kids record their results in their math notebooks.

Day 3

So after my kids have had lots of time to play with their shoebox balances, I bring out the "real" balances. I also collect a variety of objects for them to explore with.

The first activity is to compare objects to see which weighs more using the balance. **Again--do not tell the kids how to do it. Guide them through questioning, but do not model it.**

For a challenge, have the kids figure out which of the objects they compare weighs the * most*. That's true problem-solving! Watch to see what strategies the kids use to keep track of the objects they weigh. This is definitely a challenge. I always have them work together in a group for this problem.

Here's my old recording sheet, but I've updated it for this year and included it with the blackline masters. I chose objects that most people already have in their classrooms or that are easily accessible.

Day 4

This is just more practice using a balance. I give each group and eraser and a variety of objects. They see how many different combinations of objects they can find to balance the eraser.

Day 5

So here, instead of just comparing objects, we are actually weighing them using non-standard units. In the past, I have used bears, but this year, I'm using cubes. The kids will have to do some rounding, for sure. Sometimes 6 cubes isn't enough to make it balance perfectly, but 7 is too many. I tell them to get as close as possible.

While they're working, I ask them what the benefit of using the cubes (bears) to measure with would be. (It's a common unit that you can then compare weights with).

When they're done, I ask which object weighed the most? They can answer very easily...here it was the rock, because 13 cubes was the most. Was it harder or easier to tell which object was heaviest today, as compared to yesterday? They should (hopefully) say it was easier today--because they knew how many cubes each object weighed, they did not have to go back and compare each object. They had a common unit by which to compare.

Here I have the kids explain, either verbally or in writing, how a balance works.

And we make an anchor chart.

Challenge Problem

Here is a chance for the students to apply what they've learned to a more abtract problem. I do not get out the balances for this problem, although they can use math manipulatives if they want.

This little girl used tiles. She put out 5 tiles to represent the 5 tiles on one side of the balance. And then she added tiles until she got to 12 (because she knew she would need 12 on both sides to make it balance). She then counted how many more she added to get the answer 7.

This little girl is a little more advanced in her mathematical thinking.

She has great computational fluency skills!

She wrote:

First, I draw balance and I count to make 5 cube for 12. Now 5 cube need another 5 to make a 10. And 10 cube need 2 more so that 5+2+7 and so 5+7=12 and that make 12 and 12 and it make both equal.

She is clearly ESL, but brilliant, right? She kept adding on until she got to 12. 5+5+2...

Challenge Problem

This is another challenging problem. I made this blackline master to help the kids visualize it.

They have to figure out that if the book weighs 5 cubes, there are 3 cubes left. So the pencil must weigh 3 cubes.

I put most of my blackline masters here in this packet. You can download them for free by clicking on the link below. You'll see I have updated most of the pages.

Download Measurement Unit_Weight

And now, I need to get off the computer and go get some exercise. Because to be honest, I could stand to lose about 2,000 cubes!

Happy measuring!

Love the balance box and your comparison poster! Thanks for the measurement unit!!

Michelle

Posted by: Michelle Cooper | 07/10/2012 at 07:52 AM

I can't believe you just gave that way! I can't wait to use it! Thank you!

Markeeta

ATeacherAndABlog.blogspot.com

Posted by: Markeeta | 07/10/2012 at 07:58 AM

Awesome lesson on weight! I can't wait to use it. Thank you!

Posted by: Pam | 07/10/2012 at 10:52 AM

Extraordinary! I refer teachers to your site as an example of engaging, rigorous and developmentally appropriate content delivery. It can be done and you are doing it so well.

And the best part is you and the kids are having fun!!!!

When in your school year do you do this?

Posted by: susan warder | 07/10/2012 at 06:05 PM

Thank you for sharing! I think you could/should write a teacher's manual with these fantastic ideas!!

Posted by: Suzanne | 07/11/2012 at 12:54 AM

Love your homemade balance! So creative! Thanks for the measurment unit!

Posted by: Andrea | 07/11/2012 at 10:44 AM

You crack me up!(2000 cubes):)

I am sure that I could work with you so easily.

I am not stalking you ...but I have been a faithful fan for a long time and when you took a VACAY from blogging I felt very sad.

You encourage me to keep going..and I love the combination of old and new learning that you do.

So I guess I just wanted to let you know how wonderful I think you are and I wish we taught side by side.

Fondly, Barbara

Posted by: Barbara | 07/11/2012 at 04:38 PM

What a great post and thanks for sharing! Enjoy the rest of your summer!

Posted by: amber osterman | 07/15/2012 at 04:08 PM

Wow! These are great ideas! I can't wait to try it with my students. They will surely love these. Learning while having fun is a great tool in teaching. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by: Isabelle | 07/26/2012 at 03:08 AM

I love all your wonderful activities on measurement. Thank you for sharing these ideas. My students are going to enjoy exploring measurment!!!!

Posted by: Stacy | 01/17/2013 at 01:16 PM

Thank you so much for all of your ideas on this topic! I love the problem based way you teach weight and capacity to engage students in a higher level of learning. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

Posted by: Jennifer Cirar | 02/03/2013 at 09:33 AM

Hi, love your stuff! Just found you today on TPT! Do you teach all day kinder? We are half day and I find it difficult finding time to let them get this involved! Any suggestions?

Posted by: mrs E | 02/23/2013 at 09:17 PM

I did your water bottle T chart today, bottle I put a little spin on it. I picked items from around my room and had the kids act as the balance scale, their shoulders the balance part, their hands the pan. I had them hold the bottle in one hand and the other item in the other hand and the rest of the class could see that the heavier item pulled the child's arm down. It gave us room for great conversations. Items like shaving cream (larger but full of nothing - said one student) and a can of bean ( smaller but made of metal) were able to be sorted into heavier and lighter. PS thanks for a lovely activity! I love your ideas.

Posted by: Rebecca | 03/08/2013 at 04:54 AM

I have become addicted to your blog! It is my go-to source for all things kindergarten! Just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your generosity in sharing your units for free! Your heart is in this profession and it shows! Keep up the great work! You are an inspiration to me!

Posted by: Lydia | 03/18/2013 at 03:26 PM

So much appreciate this packet! Thanks!

Posted by: Cindy Keller | 03/23/2013 at 08:11 PM

This is great!! My students will love it!

Posted by: Andrea | 10/20/2013 at 05:22 PM

I just found this wonderful blog!! Thank you so much for sharing your ideas!!

Posted by: Janice | 02/06/2014 at 08:24 PM

hi, i really appreciate the balance you made at home, quite a useful way to teach. also it helpe the students master the concept.

Posted by: Ruby Dolcy | 04/03/2016 at 07:11 AM

Amazing, children are creative,we know. But adult is more creative to invent such learning model which in turns boost creativity and learning.It keeps tha small learners engaged and involved thus learning took place.

I cant wait to try it in my class, for trying it. Thanks a lot for sharing this idea with us.

Posted by: Ruby Dolcy | 04/03/2016 at 07:19 AM