Grade Levels: K-3

This page provides information to support educators and families in teaching K-3 students about milliliters and liters. It is designed to complement the Milliliters and Liters topic on BrainPOP Jr.

Review with your students that volume is the amount of space something takes up, and that it describes how much a container can hold. Remind children that we measure volume using different units, such as cups or pints. Invite them to brainstorm other units we use to measure volume. You may want to watch the BrainPOP Jr. movie Cups, Pints, Quarts, Gallons to review these common units of measurement.

Remind children that to measure small amounts of volume, we use a unit called a milliliter, which we abbreviate as ml. Explain that a big drop of water is equal to about a milliliter. A milliliter of water doesn’t even fill a teaspoon! Show examples of items measured in milliliters, such as a small water bottle, small milk container, and a bottle of shampoo. Have them look at the containers to identify how many milliliters are in each. Ask what else we might measure in milliliters.

Now display items measured in liters, such a pitcher of water, large soda bottle, can of paint, etc. Explain that we use liters to measure larger amounts of volume and review that 1 liter is equal to 1,000 milliliters. Remind students that we abbreviate liters as l. Point out that a pitcher of water holds about one liter. Have children look at different bottles and identify the number of liters in each. What else do we measure in liters? Lead a discussion.

If possible, show a dropper and a measuring cup. Ask students which they’d use to measure milliliters and which they’d use to measure liters. Help them recognize that they’d use the dropper to measure milliliters since it’s such a small unit, while a measuring cup is more useful for measuring liters. When might they measure in milliliters? When might they measure in liters? Answers may include baking, cooking, conducting experiments, and measuring medicine. Discuss why we wouldn’t measure water in a swimming pool in milliliters. Remind students that it is important to choose the right unit when they measure.

Provide opportunities for children to measure volume in liters and milliliters. Model how to pour liquid into a measuring tool, such as a measuring cup or a graduated cylinder. Explain how to read the measurement—by looking at the bottom of where the liquid curves in the vessel and seeing where it lines up with the numbers on the tool.
For enrichment or extension, we recommend exploring other BrainPOP Jr. movies that explore the metric system, such as Grams and Kilograms and Centimeters, Meters, and Kilometers.