Target Age Range: 3rd-7th
Skills Covered: volume, length, width, height, formulas, 2-dimesional shapes, 3-dimensional shapes
Snap cubes are great for teaching perimeter, area, and volume in a hands-on way. This lesson focused on volume and understanding the formula for finding volume.
Before jumping into the subject of volume, we reviewed the formulas for finding perimeter (p = 2l + 2w, or perimeter = 2x the length plus 2x the width) and area (a = l x w, or area = length times width.) If you’d like some hands on ideas for teaching perimeter and area, check out these previous posts:
- Fun With Patterns (towards the bottom of the post)
- Preschool Leaf Study
- Candy Heart Valentine’s Math Printables
After reviewing perimeter and area, I asked my son to build a 3-D rectangular structure using the snap cubes. Then I asked, “Do you think there’s a way to determine the number of cubes in your structure without counting all the cubes individually?”
“Consider that you already know how to figure out the area. Knowing the area is 2/3 of the answer!”
Of course, he figured it out quickly, but couldn’t explain the exact formula that might be used to determine rectangular volume. Out came the handy white board – yes, it’s very well-used preschool easel we’ve had for years and years. All it took was a little drawing to define the new term “height” and he came up with the formula easily (v = l x w x h, or volume = length times width times height.)
I asked my son to tear apart his structure and count each and every piece to see if his new formula worked. It did! Then, I asked him to make a few more rectangular structures using the snap cubes, working the formula, then counting each and every piece to make sure the formula works every time. It does!
Finally, I asked him to collect several boxes from around the house. Using a ruler and the formula, he had to determine the volume of each box. Guess what? He “gets” rectangular volume now and isn’t soon to forget.
Need a living math “how-to” guide? You might like Loving Living Math!
Leave a comment, and if you'd like your own picture to show up next to your comments, go get a gravatar!