Measuring capacities (3 - 4 year olds)

Learn to understand volume and make predictions by measuring how much water different containers can hold.

Home Learning

You will need

  • A bowl of water and a selection of different sized containers.

What to do

Challenge the child to answer the following questions, or to make some predictions:

  • Which container can hold the most water?
  • How can we measure it?
  • Is that container full or empty?
  • How do you know?

Measuring capacities

Learning outcomes

  • Numeracy: measuring, weight distribution.
  • Understanding the world: capacities and how water moves.
  • Fine motor skills: pouring water with our hands.
  • Language skills: conversations with peers or parents about liquids.
  • Predictions and processes: Making an estimation about the capacities of each container, and then seeing what happens.

Discuss with your child

Discuss these concepts with your child:

  • half/whole
  • more/less
  • empty/full


  • Why not add things to the water (like slices of lemons or oranges, or a bit of food colouring)?
  • Add an extra bowl and work on your transferring skills.
  • Can you add the containers to bath time and explore then?