Lesson 11 — Activity 3: Capacity

Getting Ready

This third activity will focus on capacity. Capacity is the amount a container can hold. Another unit that is associated with capacity is volume. Volume is how much space an object takes up. In this activity, you will focus on capacity.

                               This is a way to measure volume.


You may be quite aware of the measurements of capacity. Here are some examples you may see every day:

This is a litre of pop.
This is 4 litres of milk.

Measuring capacity in the metric system is very similar to measuring length or mass. The prefixes remain the same and you move between the units the same way.

The main difference between capacity and mass or length is that you only use two of the units when you talk about capacity in everyday situations.

             This measuring cup will measure volume.

Look at this chart:

millilitre (ml)

centilitre (cl)

decilitre (dl)

litre (l)

dekalitre (dal)

hectolitre (hl)

kilolitre (kl)


Have you chosen two measurements from the chart that you use on a daily basis? If you chose litre and millilitre, you are correct!

Here, once again, is the metric conversion chart. This time one litre is the basic unit for measuring capacity.

Metric Conversion Chart

(kilo  — kl; hecto  — hl; deka — dal; litre — l; deci — dl; centi — cl; milli — ml)

It is still 3 steps up to litre from millilitre, so there are 1,000 millilitres in a litre. It is still 3 steps up to kilolitre from litre, so there are 1,000 litres in a kilolitre.

Let's look at an example:

What if you had 2,306 ml of milk and wanted to know how many litres of milk you had?

It is 3 steps up from millilitres to litres. Since you are going up the stairs, you will move the decimal place 3 places to the left in your number. Since your number doesn't have a decimal showing, put it at the end of the number and then move it.

2306. becomes 2.306

You have 2.306 litres of milk.

You can easily determine how much milk you had.

Try this:

What if you had 4.5 litres of milk and wanted to know how many millilitres you had?

It is 3 steps down from litres to millilitres. Since you are going down the stairs, you will move the decimal place 3 places to the right in your number.


Notice that you don't have enough numbers to move the decimal 3 places to the right. Remember, that when this happens, add zeros into the blank spots.


You have 4,500 millilitres of milk!

Digging Deeper

Click here to try an activity to practise measuring metric lengths, mass, and capacity. Try some questions in each section on Reading Mass, Reading Volume and Capacity, and Reading Length.

Go to the next page to try a Self-check Activity on capacity conversions.

Images courtesy of www.imagesgoogle.com