# Teaching Children How to Weigh Things

by Maggie McCormick

As children grow, they start to realize that all objects have some sort of mass and become interested in this topic. Teaching children how to weigh things can help introduce them to scientific and mathematical concepts. Depending on the type of scale and objects you use, you can adjust the activity for a variety of age levels.

## Digital Scale

Your child can start using a digital scale as soon as he can recognize numbers. Show him how to turn the scale on and wait for the scale to calibrate to zero. Then, he can place objects on the scale, noting the weight shown. To make it more challenging, have him guess how much an object weighs once he's weighed a few objects to use as a standard.

## Balance Scale

Show your child how a balance scale measures two items against each other by placing objects on each side. You can balance the scale out by putting equal sized objects on each side. When she gets the concept, give her two objects and have her guess which one is heavier, then test her guess by placing them on opposite sides of the scale. The heavier one will sink lower. Another activity to use with this scale is to challenge her to select several different objects that will balance the scale.

## Double Beam Balance

The double beam balance scale is for older children to use, and is the type of scale he's likely to encounter in science class. Show him how, when you place an item on the scale, it pushes the balance marker up higher. When you move the largest weight over, it might sink the balance marker lower. Adjust the weights until the marker is right in the middle, then show him how to read the scale. Let him practice by weighing a variety of objects. As he gains more experience, he should be better able to guess which weights to move over.

## Subtracting Your Weight

You can also use math to find the weight of an item. Have your child step on the scale and note her weight. Then, have her hold an object and step on the scale again, noting the new weight. The weight of the object is the difference between her weight and her weight while holding the object. A digital scale that shows decimal points will be the most accurate in this method.

#### About the Author

Maggie McCormick is a freelance writer. She lived in Japan for three years teaching preschool to young children and currently lives in Honolulu with her family. She received a B.A. in women's studies from Wellesley College.

#### Photo Credits

• Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images