Measuring Liquids: Elementary School Students Make Their Own Rain Gauges

Let's assume you have taught your students how to measure liquid into a measuring cup. In this elementary school lesson plan we are going to discuss another way of measuring liquids. The instructions for this lesson plan are listed below.

Before beginning this lesson plan, you may want to review with the students what they know about measuring liquid so far. This will help the students to get into the mindset of measuring liquids and make learning about new ways to do this much easier as students associate their prior learning with the new material. One way to review is to ask students how they have seen liquid measured within the past couple of days, such as in their kitchen or watching their parents perform some sort of task.

  • Ask your students to bring in a jar or some other type of clear, upright container.
  • You will need enough magic markers for each student to have two colors. You may also use enamel paint, which actually makes for a more creative and lasting item, but can be a bit messy.
  • Each student should have a ruler.
  • Bring in your own clear, upright container.

Before beginning the activity, discuss rainfall with your students. Have they ever watched the weather on the news and heard the weather announcer say that we got 3 inches of rain? Ask them how the meterologist could possibly know this.

Ask the students to place their ruler upright next to the clear container. The ruler should measure up, which is to say zero is at the bottom of the upright container. Now, have the students mark off each inch in one color. Demonstrate this action on your own container. Instruct students to repeat the action in a different color for each half inch. Assist students in decorating their containers.

The students now have rain gauges. They can either take them home and record their measurements or leave them in a safe place at school so that the entire class can observe as a unit how rain is measured. Either way, assist or instruct the students in placing their rain gauges so that they are outside and in an area where they are able to collect rain. Once it rains and the rain gauges are used, observe the amounts and discuss any differences. What is a possible cause for the differences? Does it matter that each container is a different size?