Saturday, May 19, 2012

Learning About Capacity with Gallon Man

When coming up with lesson ideas I try to keep in mind that it is the process not the product that is most important. Here is a great example of that statement. We were working through our measurement unit and were reviewing capacity in standard units. We had worked through filling gallons with quarts of water, pints, and cups.   Today we were taking a look at it again using Gallon Man. I love having them make Gallon Man and they love doing it. The process begins with giving students a paper that represents a Gallon. From there I gave them another piece of paper which would represent the quarts. We discussed how many quarts filled the gallon (I had my water and gallon, quart, pint and cup at the ready so we could fill and dump once again)  and students determined how they should fold the paper to get the number they needed. We determined it would be fourths. One of my kids had the ah-hah moment and called out, "This reminds me of when we made our fraction bag." Yes, this ends up being an excellent review of fractions! We continued in this manner until they had created all the pieces they needed. Then I sent them to the floor to build and rebuild their Gallon Creations.

My students' creativity and originality were on display as I walked around to see what they created. We had Gallon Woman:
Gallon Gladiator:

My personal favorite: Gallon Panda:

Then I asked them to use some time to write an observation using their pieces or to come up with a question to pose to the class.  One student started us off by writing this and the magic began: 

We ooohed and aaaahed over the brilliance of that child's smart thinking. That sparked everyone to rush back to their gallon creations to come up with some more problems.  It was a frenzy of math thinking!
Love, Love, Love how this child is showing her math thinking on this board!
Someone drew it out in chart form!!! All without my prompting!

More equalities!

I let them go and I just basked in their brilliance.  They wanted to start posting it for other to see so I let them use the board.  It was FILLED with marvelous math thinking by the end of the lesson and although I was coaching and asking questions as they created, it was really all student generated!

I told kids I was going to use their questions to make the next day's worksheet for the practice session. They were feeling really proud.  So we bagged our Gallon Creation pieces in a Gallon Sized Ziplock for the next day.
The next day we reviewed what we learned using a smartboard lesson I found on The Smartboard Exchange. It included this other way of remembering the same material. 

Next I gave them the student created worksheet and their gallon creations and they headed to the floor to work through each other's problems. 

They used their gallon creation pieces to check their thinking and prove their answers.

I think this repeated practice of filling and refilling the units will be what  helps them recall this information in the end. 
We bagged all the pieces again and I will have them build and work with  them again next week and by then we will be ready to glue and hang them as a reference tool. In my mind, it's the process and not the product that is most important when I teach with Gallon Man. Do you have a lesson idea for measurement.  Please share by comment or email!


  1. If you want a different measuring idea, I came up with the gallon house. All the measurements are contained within the house, not as extensions. Go to my blog and look under math. I am enjoying reading your blog, by the way.

  2. Oh my goodness- I LOVE the way you didn't just 'make' a gallon man, but you made the pieces so they would all actually stack up to equal a gallon. Putting Gallon Man apart and together is so much better than making it once and gluing it!

    Can't WAIT to use this idea next year! :) (And hope that my students use half of the awesome math thinking yours did!)

    Love, love your blog.

    Luckeyfrog's Lilypad

  3. Love how your gallon people make fraction shares, brilliant!
    Stories From Second

  4. I would love to know which Smart Exchange program you showed. There are SO many of them!

  5. I can't wait to do this with my kiddos tomorrow. Thank you for sharing!!!!

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