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Activity 1

Full and Empty


We hope you have fun with this investigation and don’t get too wet. If you can you might like to do it out in the garden!


Parents … the ‘language of maths’ is very important in the development of a child’s mathematical understanding. To support you with this we have put parent prompt comments in italics. We hope you find them useful.


For this challenge you will need ... 3 empty plastic bottles that are the  same size,  a jug (not the same capacity as the bottle) and a bowl of water. Now you’re all ready to have some splashing fun and find out which container will hold more water.

Explain that when we measure and explore how much something holds, this is called finding its capacity. Its capacity is how much it holds.

Start by filling the jug with water. Make sure you fill it right up to the top!


Say ‘The jug is now full.’


Place the plastic bottle in a washing-up bowl to catch any spillages, and pour the water from the jug slowly into the plastic bottle.

Talk about what happens. Does the water spill over the top of the plastic bottle? Is the plastic bottle full? Is there any water left in the jug? Which container holds more?


Using the same plastic bottle and jug, this time fill the plastic bottle with water.


Say ‘The bottle is now full.’


Place the jug in a washing-up bowl to catch any spillages before your child starts pouring the water from the plastic bottle into the jug, ask them to predict what they think will happen this time.


Were they correct … Does the water spill over the top of the jug? Is the jug full? Is there any water left in the plastic bottle? Which container holds more?

Repeat with other containers of different sizes, asking each time to say which will hold more, and then test out.

Happy investigating!

Comparing different size and shaped jars