Metric Measurement: Volume

Contributor: Meghan Vestal. Lesson ID: 11339

OK, a gallon of milk, but a 2-liter bottle of soda. A teaspoon of sugar, but 10 mils of cough medicine. Lower the "volume" on your complaining, and practice online the metric way to measure capacity!


Measurement and Data

learning style
Kinesthetic, Visual
personality style
Lion, Beaver
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!


In the United States, you may ask your mom to go to the store to get a gallon of milk.

  • What size container of milk would you ask for in Germany?

Throughout this Metric Measurement series of Related Lessons, found in the right-hand sidebar, you have been learning about different metric units of measurement.

So far, you have learned about metric units of length and weight. Let's take a few minutes to review what you have learned.

  1. Make a list of the four metric units used to measure length and the two metric units used to measure weight.
  2. Next to each unit, write an example of something you would measure with that unit.
  3. Share your list and examples with a teacher or parent. Do they agree with the examples you selected?
  4. If you were unable to remember all the units of length and weight, or if you had a difficult time coming up with examples, review those Related Lessons in the right-hand sidebar before moving forward with this lesson.

In this lesson, you will continue learning about metric units of measurement by learning what metric units are used to measure volume.

Do you know what volume is? If you do, tell your teacher or parent.

If you are uncertain what volume means, look at the Definition of Volume on Math Is Fun. After reading through the page, explain to your teacher or parent what volume means.

Volume is the capacity or amount of space within a three-dimensional object. Remember, two-dimensional objects do not have volume. Therefore, you can only measure volume with three-dimensional objects. Which of the following objects does not have volume? Tell your teacher or parent:

paper, gift box, apple

The paper does not have volume because the paper is a two-dimensional object.

As with metric units of length and weight, all units of volume have a root word with one of the following prefixes in front of it:

  • kilo-
  • hecto-
  • deka-
  • deci-
  • centi-
  • milli-

In metric units, volume is described in liters, and the most commonly-used metric units of volume are milliliters and liters.

When you were learning about length, you learned how small a millimeter is. Tell your teacher or parent an example of a millimeter. Like millimeters, milliliters are very tiny. Get an eyedropper and a clear cup. Use the eyedropper to place 20 drops of water in the cup. These 20 drops of water are equal to one milliliter. Now, get out a teaspoon. Describe how big it is to your teacher or parent. It would take five milliliters to fill the teaspoon. That's about 100 drops of water!

The other commonly-used metric unit of volume is liters. A one-liter bottle of soda is equivalent to one liter (That makes sense!). There are 1,000 milliliters in a liter.

Look at the question from the beginning of the lesson. Tell your teacher or parent what unit of volume would be used to measure how much milk is in a container if you were living in Germany.

If you said "liters," you are correct! Now, move on to the Got It? section to continue practicing when to use milliliters and liters.

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