Short Blocks

Maths Year 1 Summer Measures and Shape

Each unit has everything you need to teach a set of related skills and concepts.

Compare and measure capacities (suggested as 3 days)

Planning and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Show two containers with different capacities and of different proportions. Fill the larger with coloured water. Pour into the smaller. Then vice versa. Which has larger capacity? Rehearse vocabulary ‘full’, ‘half full’, ‘nearly full’, ’empty’, ‘nearly empty’.
Group Activities
-- Match labels to pictures of containers.
-- Compare and order containers by capacity.

Day 2 Teaching
Show children a container and a plastic cup. Ask children how many cups will fill the container. Less than 5? More than 5? More than 10? Take suggestions, then measure. Place four containers in order from the least capacity to the greatest capacity.
Group Activities
Use the ‘Fill the Bucket’ in-depth problem-solving investigation below as today’s group activity.
Or, use these activities:
-- Order containers by capacity.
-- Estimate and measure container capacity.

Day 3 Teaching
Show children 4 containers of different proportions, e.g. a wide shallow bowl, a tall thin vase, etc. Ask children which holds more/less, most/least. Discuss. Suggest counting how many cups of sand will fill each container to check the order. Measure and order them.
Group Activities
-- Sort containers into 2 groups by capacity.
-- Estimate how many egg cups of sand a range of containers holds.

You Will Need

  • Various containers, food dye and washing up bowl
  • ‘Empty and full’ sheet (see resources)
  • Water, plastic cup and funnel
  • ‘Comparing capacities’ sheet (see resources)
  • Sand and labels
  • Mini-whiteboards and pens

Mental/Oral Maths Starters

Suggested for Day 1
Say the number that is 1 more (simmering skills)

Suggested for Day 2
Write the number that is 1 more (simmering skills)

Suggested for Day 3
Counting in 10s (simmering skills)


Day 1
Draw levels showing how full up the containers are.

Day 2
Order the containers on the shelf by their capacity. Reason about capacity.

Day 3
Compare container capacities.

Mastery: Reasoning and Problem-Solving

  • How many cups full of sand would it take to fill a tray from the maths equipment cupboard?
    -- Make a good guess
    -- Write it down.
    -- Use cups to measure and check
  • Make a cone out of paper. Estimate how many egg cups of lentils or rice it will hold. Measure to check your estimate.
  • How many cups more does your water bottle hold when it is full, than it does when it is half empty?

In-depth Investigation: Fill the Bucket
Children estimate then measure the capacity of a bucket, and play a game filling it.

Extra Support

Don’t Drink the Water!
Comparing capacity by direct comparison