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(ages 5, 6, 7)

Measures length, width and height using non-standard units

Fish Tank Volume
| Download Math Vitamin :   PDF   Notebook

Story: In this Math Vitamin the students are working to determine the volume of their own unique fish tank designs. Having recently adopted Coho salmon eggs from a local hatchery, the kids were very much interested in the mechanics of raising fish in an aquarium and the teachers capitalized on this enthusiasm with several Math Vitamins focused on the concept of area and volume. The students have been using different manipulatives to calculate area and volume. Today each child was given specific measurements for length, width, and height and are solving for their tank’s volume. Our intent on this particular Math Vitamin is to introduce students to the geometry of rectangular solids and working to determine their length, width, height and combining them to discover their volume. Learning what each dimension represents has been a key part to making this Math Vitamin successful. The students first worked to understand the dimensions: length, or long side, the width, or short side, and the height, how many blocks tall. Once they were able to build their design, they then counted the total number of blocks used for their fish tank to determine its total volume in cubic inches. All Math Vitamins require students to build, draw and record their work as well as share their thoughts with peers and teachers. The strong UCDS math community within each classroom is developed through the process of peer and teacher conversations that focus on exciting mathematical tasks and engaging ideas about the various approaches to solve them.

Suggested manipulatives: When children start to explore the concepts of area and perimeter you can use all sorts of non-standard measurement items like hands, scissors, toothpicks, beans, plastic bears etc. to learn the conepts. Once you move into exploring volume, you’ll need to use items that can be stacked. We usually choose one inch cubes for this initial work. For some students they are still counting one-to-one and for others they actually start to see the “cubic inches”.

Prep time: Adapting the vitamin wording to fit your specific story, putting manipulatives out in the room, creating the data sheets and copying the vitamin documentation forms will take about 15-20 minutes. Set up is always more fun and shorter on time if you do this activity with a colleague.

Classroom time: Asking children to “do their best work” for each Math Vitamin assumes that some children will need a longer time than others. Ideally you want to offer a block of time for Math Vitamin projects and have another task available (writing, free exploration etc.) for those students who finish work prior to their peers. For this project allow 30-45 minutes for students to work through all the steps.

How to individualize/stretch: In this vitamin, the teachers have pre-drawn a unique rectangular shape on one-inch grid paper for each child. Some tanks are larger than others based on the individual student’s level of understanding. To start with volume, consider making the first few tanks only two layers tall. For the children who are ready for more, start to use centimeter cubes and have them start finding patterns for square and cubed numbers as they build their projects.

Go to related Common Core State Standards:

Math Vitamins:

Ages 3-6

Find Volume of Garden Beds

| Download Math Vitamin :   PDF   Notebook The Bamboo Garden is soon to become a true garden! Our Facilities Manager, Nikki, ordered raised flower beds of different sizes for us to use for our garden. One is 6 feet long, 3 feet wide and 2 feet high and another is 8 feet long, 2 feet wide and 2 feet high.

Use cubes to build a model of one or both of the flower beds. Each one-inch cube represents one cubic foot. Count the total number of blocks used to determine the volume of soil contained in each flower bed.

Design Garden Bed & Find Volume

| Download Math Vitamin :   PDF   Notebook Yesterday for Math Vitamin, you built a model of one of the raised beds that will be in our new garden on the upper Early Elementary playground. After constructing the length, width and height from blocks, you then found the VOLUME (how many cubic feet of soil it will hold) by counting all the blocks that fit inside.

Today, you are the designer! Design a new raised bed with a new length, new width and new height. Build, record and calculate the new VOLUME of your unique raised bed. Have fun, gardeners!

Ages 6-8

Measuring Feet Using Any Object

| Download Math Vitamin :   PDF   Notebook Next Monday we will be ice-skating and we need to figure out how big our feet are!

This morning, measure one of your feet. You can use any tools or resources you can find to take this measurement. Record your findings on a Math Vitamin sheet. If you finish your first measurement, find another way to measure!

Measuring Objects Using Standard & Non-standard Tools

| Download Math Vitamin :   PDF   Notebook On Tuesday, we started our morning by using ANY tool we could find to measure our feet for our Ice-Skating trip. Let's use our resources to figure out the measurements for the rest of the warm clothing items we will need.

Length of Feet (Skates)
Length of Arms (Jacket)
Circumference Head (Hat)
Length of Legs (Snow Pants)
Length of Hands (Gloves)

Be creative with your measurements, but try to use one Standard and one Non-Standard tool for each clothing item. Standard Measurements are units of measurement everyone uses, like inches or centimeters on a ruler. Tape measures can help to measure when you need a more flexible tool. Non-Standard Measurements are any tools or resources you can use to measure an object. Be sure to record all of your measurements onto a Math Vitamin Sheet.

Math Continuum > Developing > Measures length, width and height using non-standard units