Aboriginal Perspectives


Volume and Mass

Jessica Wesaquate

Subject Area:



Shape and Space (Measurement)

Grade Level:



Main Objective:

Students will describe and compare everyday phenomena, using direct or indirect measurement.

General Outcome:

Estimate, measure and compare, using whole numbers and primarily standard units of measure.

Specific Outcomes:

  1. Select an appropriate object or nonstandard unit to measure capacity or volume of a container.

    Estimate, measure, record, compare and order containers by volume/capacity, using:

    • Nonstandard units

    • Litres

  2. Estimate, measure, record, compare and order the mass (weight) of objects, using standard units (g, kg).

  3. Construct objects to equal a given mass (weight).


Activity One:
wild rice, ice cream bucket, a cup, a spoon, a litre milk carton, an old pop can, pencils, math journals

Activity Two:
wild rice, three empty tin cans – drink, soup, and a tuna can, pencils, math journals, balance scale

Activity Three:
Pieces of dowel with total mass of 1kg, and 5kg

Related Videos:  

Glen Anaquod Tipi Rising or Tim Haywahe Tipi Rising

Activity/Lesson Ideas:


One of the traditional foods that the Métis ate was wild rice. The nomadic Métis adopted this food from First Nations people. Bring some wild rice into the classroom. Pass some samples around the classroom for students to smell, and feel the texture.

  1. Pose the following to the students: You are to fill up an ice cream pail with wild rice. Which would be best to use to fill the pail –a cup, a spoon, a litre milk carton or an old pop can? Have the students explain the rationale behind their choice in their math journals.

    Using the choice they wrote about in their math journals, have students use that measuring object to carry out the task at hand. They can write about their results in their math journals.

  2. Fill three empty tin cans with wild rice. Have students estimate in standard masses what they think the weight of each is. Students should write their estimates in their math journals. Once their estimates have been recorded they can use the balance scale to check the estimates made. In their math journal they can write a sentence or two about how well they are at estimating and explain.

  3. Watch tipi raising videos from Glen Anaquod or Tim Haywahe section. Talk about the significance of the poles to the structure of the tipi. What are the tipi poles made from? What type of work do students think went into creating the tipi poles seen in the video?

    Since real tipi poles are not easily accessible, this activity will require dowels to mimic tipi poles. Dowel can be found in a store such as Rona.

    Have students build a stack of dowel with a total mass of about 1 kg. Students can use a scale to check the mass. Ask students to brainstorm how doing this will help them to build a stack of dowel that has a total mass of 5 kg?