When teaching abstract geometry concepts like volume, the more hands-on, the better. Increase time on task with hands-on activities. Here are 20 ideas for teaching volume to middle schoolers to get you started.

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**1. Build Volume with the Wooden Volume Unit Cubes**

Students will make a table on a piece of paper with the headings - base, side, height, and volume. They will start with 8 cubes and will build prisms to find all of the possible combinations of calculating volume with 8 cubes. They will repeat this math task with 12, 24, and 36 cubes.

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**2. Volume with Birdseed**

In this activity for students, they have a variety of containers and birdseed. They arrange the containers from smallest to largest. Starting with the smallest, they estimated how much it will take to fill the container with birdseed. They use this information to estimate the next biggest container, and repeat the process with all of the containers through the largest volume. This gives an understanding that volume is the space inside a 3-dimensional shape.

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**3. Volume of Rectangular Prisms**

This is another hands-on activity that builds a conceptual understanding of box volumes and reinforces the idea of volume. Students measure a variety of wooden rectangular prisms and calculate the volume.

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**4. Volume of Irregularly-shaped Objects **

Students record the water level of a graduated cylinder. They add the irregular object and record the new water level. By subtracting the old water level from the new water level, the students find the calculated volume of the irregular object.

Learn More: Middle School Science

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**5. Rectangular Volume in Paper Sacks**

This is a hands-on volume activity. Put everyday objects in paper bags. Students will feel the object and record their observations - what shape of prism it is and approximately what the volume measurements are.

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**6. Cylinder Volume**

Students look at two paper cylinders - one is taller, and one is wider. They have to decide which one has the bigger volume. Students gain visual skills in seeing that different cylinders can have surprisingly similar volumes. This is an example of volume with complicated volume equations.

Learn More: Better Lesson

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**7. Guessing Gum Balls**

In this favorite math unit, students get a jar and candy. They have to measure the volume of the jar and of a piece of candy, then they estimate how much it will take to fill up the jar.

Learn More: Tap Into Teen Minds

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**8. Mix, Then Spray**

In this volume project, students have to fill the spray bottle with equal parts water and vinegar. They must calculate how far to fill the bottle with vinegar to add an equal amount of water. This exploratory lesson reinforces the concept of the volume of cylinders and cones.

Learn More: Tap Into Teen Minds

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**9. Volume of Composite Figures**

Students build a 3D composite shape and calculate the volume of each individual prism using formulas. Through the design process, they build the composite shape and calculate the total volume. This reinforces volume formulas through building designs.

Learn More: Middle School Mathman

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**10. Candy Bar Volume**

In this geometry lesson, students measure and calculate the volume of various candy bars using the formulas for volume. Students increase their knowledge of volume by measuring the dimensions of volume - height, length, and width.

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**11. Measuring the Volume of Spheres and Boxes**

Gather various balls and boxes for this inquiry-based volume activity. Have students recall information from a previous lesson to measure and calculate the volume of these everyday items using the formulas.

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**12. Volume with Popcorn**

This is a volume design project. Students create a box design that will hold a certain amount of popcorn, say 100 pieces. Students must estimate how big the container will need to be. After they build it, they count out the popcorn to see if the container is the right size. They may need more than one design attempt to build these paper boxes.

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**13. Building Rectangular Prisms with Marshmallows**

Students use marshmallows and glue to build rectangular prisms. Students record the dimensions and volumes of the cubes they build, and this leads to an understanding of volume.

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**14. Draw a Mini-Cube City**

Students combine art and volume in this work to make an original design of a city. They draw roads with the rulers, and they draw buildings that are of certain dimensions. They can build the buildings with centimeter cubes before drawing them in their city by measuring the distances with centimeters on their ruler.

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**15. Build a Box That Will Hold the Most Popcorn**

This is a volume building challenge. Students are given two pieces of construction paper. They use the attributes of design to build it into a box with no lid that holds the most popcorn.

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**16. Building Volume with Legos**

Students use legos to build complex buildings. They draw the different views of the buildings to show how they are made of combinations of different rectangular prisms using the volume formula. They measure and calculate the volume of the individual rectangular prisms to find the volume of the whole building.

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**17. Liquid Volume**

Students put containers in order from smallest to biggest. Then, they predict the amount of liquid that different 3D shapes hold. Finally, they pour the liquid in each shape and measure the amount of liquid it holds to compare them.

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**18. Build 3-Dimensional Shapes with Marshmallows and Toothpicks**

Students use marshmallows and toothpicks to build prisms. This requires them to recall their knowledge of shape characteristics while building prisms.

Learn More: Smith Curriculum Consulting

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**19. Volume Sort**

Students have 12 cards with pictures of 3D shapes and their dimensions or simply the dimensions with the equations for volume. They have to calculate, cut, and paste, then sort these volumes into two categories: below 100 cubic centimeters and above 100 cubic centimeters.

Learn More: Smith Curriculum Consulting

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**20. Skin and Guts**

In this amazing math resource, students are given the nets of three rectangular prisms. They cut them out and build them. They see how changing one dimension affects the size of the prism. The students learn about how scale affects volume.

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