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Children's Scales and Balance Bucket Ideas - for 3 Years+

Scales and Balance Buckets at How we Montessori

Are you looking for ideas on how to use children's scales or balance buckets? Scales can be fun for exploring weight, quantities, more than/less than and heavy/light. Many of the items we can use with scales can be found in nature or around the home. 

"Children naturally have an interest in all aspects of mathematics, weight, order, systems, series, time, quantities, and symbols and so forth. We can serve the development of the mathematical mind by feeding this interest, giving sensorial experiences first." Child of the World: Global Education for Age 3-12+ by Susan Stephenson.

Here are a few ways we've used our scales:

  1. Balance Buckets with Water - we've coloured the water blue so it's easier to see. We started this with a small pitcher but found a larger bottle worked better. This is so fun if your child likes pouring and transferring. A pipette or ladle could also work well. 
  2. Balance Buckets with Coloured Salt - we could also use sand. We've coloured the salt so it's easier to see. I've presented this previously with a spoon and a scoop but I can see my child liked pouring the sand with a pitcher.
  3. Scales with Blocks - blocks are useful for measuring as blocks are usually uniform in size and weight, so the same size blocks weigh the same. This activity often leads to the child counting out the blocks. 
  4. Scales with Mini Pine Cones - I love to use natural materials where possible. This is presented with tongs. Unlike blocks, the mini pine cones are not uniform in size or weight. This is a good activity for children who love to use tongs and are interested in transferring.
  5. Scales with Found Items from Nature - we've included shells, feathers, a small log, rocks, seed pods. This allows the child to explore the weight of the items individually or collectively.  
  6. Which is heavier? - light and heavy sorting is a common Montessori activity for this age. While a feather is light and a rock is heavy this is slightly more challenging and this is an activity I do with my child. What weighs more our apple or our banana/ The child forms a hypothesis and then we measure using the scales. At 38 months, I've only presented this with two items, for an older child you could present more. 

Fun and often easily found items for weighing include found items from nature like seed-pods, sticks, feathers, leaves, and rocks. Also consider pom poms, glass gems, fruits (especially with those with a protective peel so we can eat them afterwards like avocado, banana, orange), wooden blocks, pegs, wooden peg people, small bean bags, lego, sand, coloured salt, dried beans, playdough, counters, plastic tokens, coins, model animals, model vehicles, match sticks/craft sticks, branch cuts/discs, pencils/crayons.

Resources we use: Clear Bucket Scales (in #1 & #2 similar here, similar UK), Lovevery Scales (#4), Gluckskafer Wooden Scales (#3, #5, & #6) (AU link, UK link, similar Etsy here). Large plastic tweezers (#4) similar. Useful link Precision Balance with Weights at Montessori Services. 

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