“Room for Little Red”

Some people might view the task of cleaning a fish tank as dirty work. In our classroom, we view this experience as an opportunity to learn about measuring capacity!

You may have heard about our betta fish, Little Red. Little Red lives in a large pickle jar and has been with us for three years. Little Red shares his home with a peace lily. While this habitat keeps relatively clean for several weeks at a time, we have to clean the jar and replace the old water with clean water on a regular basis. This task is much more fun when accompanied by a good picture book, fraction insets, measuring cups, and a big jug of clean water.

On Thursday, we took on the job of cleaning the fish tank by first reading the story, “Room for Ripley,” by Stuart J. Murphy. In this story, a young boy is preparing a fish tank for a new pet guppy. He carefully measures out how much water to pour into the tank using cups, pints, quarts, half gallons and gallons. Just like the boy in the story, our classmates carefully measured the water to fill Little Red’s clean pickle jar. We used fraction insets to compare 1/16 (cups); 1/8 (pints); 1/4 (quarts); 1/2 (half gallon); and 1 whole (gallon).

We estimated how many cups of water it would take to fill the jar and kept count by using tally marks. It took 14 cups or 3.5 quarts to fill the jar.

These integrated lessons make a huge impression on the students. Connecting a real life task, such as cleaning the fish tank, to a mathematical concept like capacity, encourages the students to explore interrelationships between quantities and numbers. Look for opportunities at home to practice measuring liquids with your child. Cooking, party planning, cleaning, and pet care are just a few of the many opportunities to practice measuring liquids at home. Have fun practicing and enjoy the photos!

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