Exploring volume science is fun and easy to set up for young kids! We enjoy using everyday items to test out our science ideas. So many classic science experiments can be done around the house! Grab some different-sized bowls, water, rice, and something to measure with and get started!
Exploring Volume With Kids
Simple preschool STEM activities like this volume activity are a fantastic way to get kids thinking, exploring, problem-solving, and observing what is happening around them.
All you need is an assortment of containers, water, and rice, and you are ready to go! Take the learning outdoors if the weather allows for easy clean up. Alternatively, place everything on a large tray or in a plastic bin for indoor play and learning.
Here is a fun and easy way to introduce kids to volume or capacity in science. Extend the activity with some simple math. We used a 1-cup measurement to calculate our volume.
What Is Volume in Science?
Volume in science refers to the amount of space that an object occupies or the amount of space within a container. It’s a measure of how much three-dimensional space an object takes up. For kids, understanding volume can be simplified by thinking about how much “stuff” can fit into a space.
Young kids learn by exploring, observing, and figuring out how things work by doing. This volume activity encourages all of the above.
Kids will learn that volume in science is the amount of space a substance (solid, liquid, or gas) takes up or the 3-dimensional space a container encloses. Later on, they will learn that mass, in contrast, is how much matter a substance contains.
Kids can observe the differences and similarities of containers’ volumes when they fill them with water and compare the results. Which container do they think will have the most? Which one will have the least?
You can also learn about States of Matter here.
Everyday Examples of Volume
These examples show how volume is a part of everyday life, from simple tasks like pouring a drink to more complex concepts like measuring ingredients for cooking. Kids can easily understand and relate to these examples as they encounter them regularly.
Drinking a Glass of Water: When you fill a glass with water, the volume of the water is the amount it holds, which could be measured in milliliters (mL) or liters (L).
Filling a Bathtub: The volume of water needed to fill a bathtub is quite a bit larger than a glass, usually measured in gallons (or liters in some countries).
Pouring a Bowl of Cereal: The volume of cereal you pour into a bowl is an example of how volume is used in serving food.
Inflating a Balloon: The volume of air you blow into a balloon determines how big it gets.
Filling a Juice Box: A juice box contains a specific volume of juice, often measured in milliliters or fluid ounces.
Measuring Ingredients for a Recipe: When you measure flour, sugar, or other ingredients for baking, you are dealing with volume.
Space in a Backpack: When packing a backpack, you need to consider the volume it can hold to fit all your school supplies.
Volume of a Book: The number of pages in a book determines its volume, and thicker books have a larger volume.
Inflating a Soccer Ball: The volume of air you pump into a soccer ball affects its bounce and playability.
Gas in a Car’s Tank: The volume of gas in a car’s tank is what determines how far you can drive before needing to refuel.
Tips For Exploring Volume
Exploring volume with kids can be a fun and educational experience. Here are some tips to make the learning process engaging and effective:
Hands-On Activities: Use hands-on activities and experiments to demonstrate the concept of volume. Kids learn best by doing, so engage them in activities like pouring water, filling containers, and measuring objects.
Use Everyday Objects: Incorporate everyday objects that kids are familiar with, such as cups, glasses, toys, and food containers, to help them relate to the concept of volume.
Comparisons: Encourage kids to compare the volumes of different objects and containers. Ask questions like “Which one holds more?” or “Which one holds less?” This helps them develop a sense of relative volume.
Water Displacement: Water displacement experiments are a great way to explore volume. Kids can see how the water level changes when an object is submerged.
Check out the simple steps to set up a water displacement experiment below.
Measuring Tools: Introduce kids to essential tools like rulers, measuring cups, and graduated cylinders. Show them how to use these tools to measure volume.
Volume Activity for Younger Kids
Why not pair this simple volume activity with other fun water experiments?
- different size bowls
- food coloring
- rice or other dried filler
- 1 Cup Measuring Cup (additional sizes too if desired)
- large container to catch the spills
Here’s a fun and simple volume experiment for young kids to explore. This experiment helps kids understand the concept of volume and how it can change with different container shapes. In this experiment, you’ll compare the volume of water in different containers.
Materials You’ll Need:
- Two or more containers of different shapes (e.g., a tall glass, a short and wide cup, a small bottle, etc.)
- A measuring cup or graduated cylinder
- Food coloring (optional, for added fun)
Gather all the materials and set them on a table.
Step 1: Fill the Containers
Fill each container with water to the top. Make sure the kids use the same amount of water for each container. You can use the measuring cup to ensure consistency.
Step 2: Add Food Coloring (Optional)
If you want to make the experiment more engaging, you can add a few drops of food coloring to each container. This will help kids see the water level more clearly.
Step 3: Observe and Compare
Have the kids observe and compare the water levels in each container. Ask questions like, “Which container has more water?” and “Which container has less water?”
Step 4: Pour the Water Into a Measuring Cup
Pour the water from each container into a measuring cup and record the volume of water for each container. You can use milliliters (mL) or cups for measurement, depending on what’s more suitable for the kids.
Discuss the Results
Discuss the results with the kids. Explain that even though the containers looked different, they can hold different amounts of water. This is because of the different shapes and sizes of the containers. This shows that volume can vary based on the shape and size of the container.
Extend the Learning: Try Different Containers (Optional)
If you have more containers with different shapes, repeat the experiment to reinforce the concept further.
This experiment is an excellent way for kids to visually see how the volume of water can change with different container shapes. It’s an engaging and hands-on way to introduce them to the idea that the same amount of water can look different in different containers, helping them understand the concept of volume and how it’s influenced by shape.
Volume Activity for Older Kids
Here’s a simple experiment to help kids understand the concept of volume using water displacement. In this experiment, kids will measure the volume of an irregularly shaped object, like a rock. This experiment is best suited for kids of elementary school age.
Materials You’ll Need:
- A clear container (like a plastic cup or a beaker)
- A measuring cup or graduated cylinder
- An irregularly shaped object (a small rock or toy)
- A marker
- Paper and a pen
Gather all the materials and lay them out on a table.
Step 1: Fill the Container
Fill the clear container with water to about halfway.
Step 2: Initial Water Level
Use the measuring cup or graduated cylinder to measure and pour a specific amount of water into the container. For instance, you can start with 100 mL.
Step 3: Record Initial Water Level
Mark the water level on the container using a marker. This is your initial water level.
Step 4: Displace Water
Place the irregularly shaped object (rock or toy) into the container with the marked water level. Make sure the object is fully submerged in the water.
Step 5: Record New Water Level
The water level will rise due to the displacement caused by the object. Mark the new water level with a different marker or in a different color.
Step 6: Calculate the Volume
Now, subtract the initial water level from the new water level. This difference represents the volume of the object. For example, if the initial water level was at 100 mL, and the new level is at 150 mL, then the volume of the object is 50 mL.
Discuss and Conclude
Discuss with the kids about what they learned. Emphasize that the object’s volume is the amount of water it displaced. You can also ask them to compare the volume of different objects and observe how the volume changes with the size and shape of the objects.
This experiment is a hands-on way to help kids understand the concept of volume and the idea that the amount of water displaced is equal to the volume of the object. It’s a fun and educational way to introduce them to the principles of measurement and volume in science.
More Hands-on Math Activities
We love helping our kiddos learn in a multi-sensory way with one of these fun hands-on activities below. See our list of preschool math activities.
Compare the weights of different objects with a balance scale.
Use gourds, a balance scale, and water for a Fall theme-measuring activity.
Explore what weighs more.
Have fun with this measuring length activity.
Practice measuring your hands and feet using simple cube blocks.
Try this fun Fall measuring activity with pumpkins. Pumpkin math worksheet included.
More Helpful Science Resources
Here are a few resources to help you introduce science more effectively to your kiddos or students and feel confident when presenting materials. You’ll find helpful free printables throughout.
90 Printable Science Projects For Kids
If you’re looking to grab all of the printable science projects in one convenient place plus exclusive worksheets, our Science Project Pack is what you need!