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Weighing and Balancing

by Early Math Counts

I was looking for some great stuff about weighing and balancing (measurement) for a class I teach about math and science for young children, and I came across a book from my mother-in-law’s collection called Weighing and Balancing.  Written in 1970 and illustrated by Aliki (Classic!) it was written as a part of a series from the University of Illinois’ Committee on School Mathematics Projects.

This book is filled with really great ideas that begin with an exploration of weight.  Over the next couple of weeks I want to explore balance and weight as a Thursday Theme of November.  I am going to weave in some ideas of abundance and scarcity as well because November is often the time we think about the celebration of the harvest.


As a start, have children close their eyes and place an object in each of their hands.  Ask them which one feels heavier?  It is OK if they open their eyes  even though they may be confused by the appearance of the objects.  If one of the objects is bigger, the child may naturally believe that is is heavier. It doesn’t matter if they are right or wrong since you will follow it up with an exercise to find out which one is actually heavier.  Be sure to use the word lighter as well while you explore.

Now break out the classroom balance.  Place the objects on either side of the balance to discover which is heavier.  Start with dissimilar objects (a book and a marble) so the difference is remarkable.  Later, il you use two objects that are similar (i.e., a grapefruit and an apple) it might be less obvious to the children but more fun to explore.

These pictures were taken in an older 2’s classroom.  The two children balanced the fruits from the housekeeping area for a really long time.  As I observed them, they put dissimilar fruits on each side and tried to add fruit and take away fruit to get the balance to stay even.Bucket Balance Fruit 5

2 Replies to “Weighing and Balancing”

  1. One way I play on doing this is getting pennies and weight things by how many pennies used. This not only helps beginning measuring but also you can bring in the value of a penny.

  2. This would be a perfect activity for my home daycare. It will really open the discussion of weight for my littles. They will have fun trying to guess with their eyes closed!

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