Step 1: Gather materials.
- Two baskets (one labeled lighter and the other labeled heavier)
- Objects set aside for the children to weigh (these objects should fit on a balance scale)
- One object to use as a measuring tool. (The children should be able to carry this object, fit it on a balance scale and easily manipulate the object as they weigh both objects in their hands.
- A balance scale
Note: Small parts pose a choking hazard and are not appropriate for children age five or under. Be sure to choose lesson materials that meet safety requirements.
Step 2: Introduce activity.
- Ask the children to explain weight and the concept of weighing something. Ask the children about their experiences with being weighed or weighing something. (The doctor weighs you. You weigh produce at the grocery store, etc.)
- Demonstrate how the balance scale works. Weigh objects that are the same weight, as well as objects of different weights, emphasizing which is heavier and which is lighter.
- Tell the children that they are going on a Scavenger Hunt to find objects that are heavier and lighter than objects given to them to use for comparison.
Step 3: Engage children in lesson activities.
- Give each child a measurable object. Explain that the children are to find objects that are lighter or heavier than their objects. Ask the children how they will be able to tell (by using the balance scale or their hands).
- First, the children will find objects that are heavier than their objects and place them in the basket labeled “Heavier.”
- Then the children will find objects that are lighter than their objects and place them in the basket labeled “Lighter.”
- After all of the objects have been collected, gather the children around the two baskets to discuss the objects collected in relation to their own objects. If there are some discrepancies, put the objects on the balance scale to determine the weights of the objects.
- Once the children have collected items using their measurable objects, have the children switch objects and do the Scavenger Hunt all over again.
- In addition to placing the found objects in the two baskets, the children can also record their findings on a recording sheet. Leave a space at the top of the recording sheet where you can write or draw a picture of the measurable item being used and then create columns for the lighter objects and the heavier objects. The children can either write the name of their found objects on the recording sheet or draw a picture.
Step 4: Vocabulary.
- Weigh: To measure according weight (e.g.,”Today we will weigh objects around the room.”)
- Heavier: Having greater weight (e.g.,”Which of these two objects is the heavier object?”)
- Lighter: Having less weight (e.g.,”Which of these objects is the lighter of the two objects?”)
- The same: Identical in kind or quantity (e.g.,”These two objects are the same weight.”)
Step 5: Adapt lesson for toddlers or preschoolers.
Adapt Lesson for Toddlers
- Choose unrealistic items to measure (items that are too big or items that cannot be held with one hand)
- Struggle with the concept of weight and not yet understand that items are of different weights
Child care providers may:
- Place the items to be measured into a basket labeled “Items to Measure”
- Concentrate on one measurable (collect items that are lighter than their objects and let the children feel the difference as they hold the two items in their hands. Repeat this activity several times with lighter objects and then make the same comparison with the heavier objects.)
Adapt Lesson for Preschoolers
- Understand the concept of weight and move through the scavenger hunt with great ease
Child care providers may:
- After the children have collected items using their measurable objects, have the children switch objects and do the scavenger hunt all over again
- In addition to placing the found objects in the two baskets, the children can also record their findings on a recording sheet. Leave a space at the top of the recording sheet where you can write or draw a picture of the measurable item being used and then create columns for the lighter objects and the heavier objects. The children can either write the name of their found objects on the recording sheet or draw a picture of the objects.
- Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Weights And Measures Book Paperback by Jerry Pallotta (New York: Cartwheel Books by Scholastic, 2002)
- Me and the Measure of Things by Joan Sweeney (New York: Dragonfly Books, 2002)
Music and Movement
Children can collect outdoor items such as acorns and stones. They can then use the balance and weigh the items to explore the concepts of heavier, lighter and same or equal.
- Children drag and drop bear counters onto a scale that weighs them using numbers rather than balance. When you get to the page, scroll down and click on “Simple Scales.”