Counting on Frank

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This is an activity based on the picture book Counting on Frank.

Achievement Objectives
GM2-1: Create and use appropriate units and devices to measure length, area, volume and capacity, weight (mass), turn (angle), temperature, and time.
Specific Learning Outcomes
  • Students will explore and compare the volume of different containers using non-standard and standard units.
  • Students will be able to explain why standard units of volume are necessary when making comparisons.
Description of Mathematics

To understand measurement concepts such as length, rate, or volume, it helps to create units from our everyday experience and use these to compare to standard units.

Estimation is an important skill in measuring and comparing attributes.

Required Resource Materials
  • Cubic centimeters from place value blocks
  • Objects to fill boxes and jars
  • Containers of different shapes and sizes including large boxes and jars
  • Counting on Frank by Rod Clement
  • Rulers and measuring cups

Frank’s Units: Estimating and Measuring Volume
This activity is based on the picture book Counting on Frank.

Author: Rod Clement
Illustrator: Rod Clement
Publisher: Angus and Robertson (1990)
ISBN: 0-207-17322-2

Frank is a big dog and Frank’s owner has a brain and knows how to use it when it comes to numbers. Frank’s owner shares his knowledge of the size and scope of things such as the growth rate of a gum tree or the volume of the shopping trolley. It is a humourous look at measurement and comparison.

Lesson Sequence:

  1. Prior to reading, make the connection to the story by pointing out the lolly jar on the cover and ask
    Who has tried to guess the number of lollies in the jar?
    What strategies did you use to make your guess?
    Did any of you ever win?
    Do you have to get the exact number?
    What does estimation mean?
  2. Share the book with the students drawing their attention to the times when Frank’s owner makes an estimate (like when he uses the word “about”), when he calculates (exact numbers) and when he just knows a fact. You can have one student record all the measurements on the whiteboard or modeling book as you read the story so the numbers can be re-visited at the end.
  3. After reading ask
    How do you think he KNEW there were 745 jelly beans in the average lolly jar?
  4. Show the students a jar and have them estimate and record on scrap paper how many “lollies” will fit inside. Don’t show them how big the “lollies” will be. Save the “guesses. Demonstrate filling the jar with extra large “lollies” (such as large beads or tennis balls) and record the number and then with extra small “lollies” (such as counters or beads) and record the number. Introduce the term VOLUME and discuss how the number describes how much space inside the container is filled. Discuss why the volume in large lollies is a smaller number than the volume in small lollies.
  5. In partners or small groups ask the students to explore the idea of volume with the containers in the room. Ask them to select two containers and fill them both with the same objects (create a unit) and record their measurements with diagrams of the containers and a description of the volume using their chosen unit.
  6. Allow students the opportunity to share their recordings with the class and to compare the measurements.
  7. If students are confident with this type of activity you can move on to using standard units such as centimeters. Measure the height length and width of small boxes and then fill them with place value blocks. Compare the count for the blocks and the calculation using the formula: volume = length x width x height.
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Level Two