Section 4: Working with weight

Key Focus Question: How can practical work be used to teach the measurement of weight using inexpensive resources?

Keywords: Standard units; grams; kilograms; practical work; balances; extension; differentiation; groups; demonstration.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this section, you will have:

  • helped pupils develop their understanding of weight by using progressive practical activities;
  • established pupils’ understanding of the need for and use of standard units for weight;
  • explored different ways to organise your class.


When exploring weight with pupils it is important to use a lot of practical hands on activities in the early stages so that they are able to build up mental models which will help their understanding in later stages. In this section you will plan ways to introduce your pupils to the concept of weight by following three stages:

  • comparing weights of two or more objects by holding them at the same time
  • estimating and measuring weight of objects using non-standard units such as stones
  • measuring and comparing the weight of objects using standard units

Central to this work is the use of simple balances that can be made from cheap and readily available materials (see Resource 1: Simple balance). For advice on collecting materials, see Key Resource: Being a resourceful teacher in challenging circumstances [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

Resource 5: Kano’s rainfall

1. Doing practical work in groups