Fall is here and all the farms around us are harvesting all their crops. Grain bins are filling up and trucks are moving out. It’s so fascinating to see. That’s why we brought the farm to our house to explore weight with our own set of crops. This activity is part sensory play and part math exploration. It’s a fun way to experiment with weight and make comparisons using a small balance scale.
Materials Needed for Balance Scale:
2 small cups (the 3 oz. bathroom cups are perfect)
Large craft stick
2 paper clips
Extra Materials for Exploring Weight:
Dried beans, popcorn, split peas, or lentils. (I explored the bulk bins of our grocery store and picked up small quantities of several different items to use in this activity.)
Spoons or scoops
To Prep: I came up with this mini version of a balance scale using a little bit of trial and error. But, finally I got one to work using a few supplies from our craft closet.
First, take your two cups and punch two holes in each one.
Cut identical lengths of string (mine were 12 inches each) and tie them in each hole (see picture above). Try to make the strings on the cups as equal as possible.
Loop the strings on each cup over opposite ends of your craft stick.
Use the paper clips to hold the strings in place so they won’t slip and slide all over the place.
Finally, create a hook using your chenille stick. Wrap it around the middle of the craft stick leaving enough at the top to form a hook.
Hang your scale somewhere so that neither cup touches the ground and they both have room to move up and down. We used the back of a chair.
Now it’s time to explore! I poured each of our grains in separate bowls. We used popcorn, dried beans, and split peas.
Keep the exploration open-ended or you can guide the exploration with a few questions:
How much popcorn is equal in weight to a half a cup of beans?
Which weighs more, popcorn or split peas? How can you tell?
Can you find equal amounts of split peas and dried beans?
Let your kids start exploring the concept of weight through play. They can weigh a cupful of beans and a cupful of popcorn. Or they can put one popcorn kernel on one side of the scale and one bean on the other side of the scale. Which one weighs more?
Scooping. sorting, and weighing. It’s a great day to explore weight at the farm.