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Measuring Mass in Grade 1

Measuring Mass in Grade 1
Catherine Beswick

The grade 1 students have been inquiring into ways to measure MASS - how heavy something is. 

The grade 1 students have been inquiring into ways to measure mass; how heavy something is. A new term "hefting" was introduced which means using your hands to measure two items, one on each hand and feeling which one is heavier. Some students realised there was another more accurate way of measuring mass - using scales.

The students were then introduced to a type of scales to compare and measure mass; a pan balance. Many of the students likened it to a seesaw. Firstly the students had some time in groups to explore how to use a pan balance and then as a class we came up with a list of tips on how to use a pan balance to measure mass. 

The students then were given an open ended problem to investigate in their small groups using the pan balance. 

"A book is on one side of a pan balance and two objects are on the other side so the pans are level. What might the two objects be?"

Here is Sara K explaining her thinking about which items are heavier and why.

Here are some of the responses from groups who were able to find 2 items that measured the same as the book. It was interesting to note that some children realised that each group might have to measure different items if they chose different books. 

Here is Mirei and Sawako explaining their thoughts on how they were tackling the problem.

Even though some of the students were unable to find two items that measured the same as their book they didn't give up and by the end of the lesson the classroom was in upheaval from things pulled from drawers, boxes and everywhere in the room. The girls sure did try hard to find items that had the same weight as their book!! 

We look forward to investigating more about mass and measurement over the last week of school. 



  • mass
  • Mathematics
  • measurement
  • open ended problem

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