Math Background

Lesson: Measuring Weight, Mass, and Capacity
Developing the Concept

Children are becoming familiar with the units used to measure different things. In this lesson they will review finding capacities by using cups, pints, and quarts and will review reading a Fahrenheit thermometer.

Materials: containers that measure 1 cup, 1 pint, and 1 quart; large Fahrenheit thermometer; container with 1 gallon of water

Preparation: none

Prerequisite Skills and Background: Children should understand “more than” and “less than.” They should also know the vocabulary words cup, pint, and quart.

  • Say: Now let's measure the amount of water that each of these containers can hold.
    Show children containers that measure 1 cup, 1 pint, and 1 quart. Name the capacity of each of these containers as you hold them up for children to see.
  • Ask: How many cups of water will it take to fill the quart container? (4)
    Have a volunteer show that 4 cups will fill the quart container. On the board, record the result as 1 quart = 4 cups.
  • Ask: How many cups of water will it take to fill the pint container? (2)
    Encourage children to estimate the quantity. Elicit that the pint is about half the size of a quart; the container should hold about 2 cups of water.
    Have a volunteer show that 2 cups will fill the pint container. On the board, record the result as 1 pint = 2 cups.
  • Ask: How many pints will it take to fill the quart container? (2)
    Discuss how a pint is half the size of a quart. So it should take 2 pints to fill a quart. Have a volunteer show that 2 pints will fill the quart. On the board, record the result: 1 quart = 2 pints.
  • Say: So 1 pint = 2 cups; 1 quart = 2 pints; and 1 quart = 4 cups.
    Have children copy the chart and keep it for future reference.

    Hold up the thermometer for children to see.

  • Ask: Who can tell me what we measure with a thermometer? (Children may say “the temperature.”) Who can read the temperature on the thermometer?
    Guide a child as he or she reads the temperature on the large thermometer. If a large thermometer is not available, point to the temperatures on a large drawing of a thermometer as the children read from a smaller one. Record the number on the board.
  • Say: The units of measure on the thermometer are called degrees, so we write the degree symbol with the number.
    Write the degree symbol ( ° ) next to the temperature reading on the board.
  • Say: We measure temperature on a Fahrenheit thermometer. So we write F after the degree symbol.
    Write F on the board.
  • Ask: How can we make the thermometer reading different?
    Children may suggest putting the thermometer in water to raise or lower the temperature. If they don't say this, suggest it yourself or place the thermometer in warmer or colder water.
  • Ask: Who can read the temperature on this thermometer now?
    Have a child read the new temperature and record the reading on the board.
  • Ask: Who can tell me why the new measurement is different from the first measurement? (Children may say, “The water temperature is warmer/cooler than the air temperature.”) Repeat having children read the thermometer until they are comfortable with the procedure.

Wrap-Up and Assessment Hints
Children benefit from hands-on measurement activities. You may wish to have the class make batches of bread or cookies to have them work with cup, pint, and quart measures. For bread they will also need to use the thermometer to measure water temperature for activating the yeast. These hands-on activities make it easier for children to remember equivalent measurements and also provide you the opportunity to observe their mastery of the concepts.


Houghton Mifflin Math Grade 2