Teaching students about balance and weight can be daunting. Really Good Kindergarten Teacher Laine from Stephens City, Virginia shared with us how she combines literature and math to make sure her little learners comprehend the tough math concepts. If you’re looking for a way to make weight and balance more concrete for your students, check out Laine’s idea below!
Literature and Math Combine for Effective Learning
For measuring weight, I like to read my students Balancing Act by Ellen Stoll Walsh (Beach Lane Books, 2010). In this picture book, various animals attempt to share rides on one teeter-totter and find they must keep re-balancing themselves to make it work. This book provides many opportunities to help children understand balance and measurement.
I ask students to predict what will happen next, why one side of the teeter-totter went down while the other went up, etc. I like to assess what my students already know before we begin using balance scales, so my questions get the students talking and offer me insight into their level of understanding regarding this concept. We then use a balance scale and different types of pasta to “weigh” classroom objects (e.g., crayon, glue stick, marker, cubes, etc.). I explain that to find out how much each item weighs, the two scale buckets must be equally balanced, just like the teeter-totter in the story. If one is higher or lower, I ask students to tell me which weighs more, less.
I have students record their answers on a sheet featuring pictures of the items on one side of an equal sign, and a picture of the pasta used on the other. They count the number of pieces of pasta that balanced the scale and record that number on a blank line below the pasta pictured. I have students predict how many pieces of pasta will balance the scale and record their predictions before weighing.
How do you teach your students about weight and balance? Share your ideas below or on the Really Good Teachers Forum!