K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education


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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • discover the amounts that are equivalent to 1 pint, 1 cup, 1 quart, and 1 gallon through a simple hands-on activity.
  • draw and use the gallon man after a short amount of guided practice.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

90 minutes


  • Access to water
  • 3 one gallon containers
  • 4 one quart containers
  • 8 one pint containers
  • 16 one cup containers
  • Chalk, Board, Overhead etc…
  • Pencil/Paper


  • Students should brainstorm and list all of the standard units of liquid measure.
  • After students have listed cups, pints, quarts, and gallons they should list them in order from least to greatest if they can.
  • Estimate how many cups in a pint, pints in a quart, quarts in a gallon etc.
  • Read supplemental resources / Information for teachers ahead of time.


  1. The class should be divided into three groups. One group should have the 16 cups, one group should have the 8 pints, one group should have the 4 quarts.
  2. After they have their particular measuring unit, you should give each group a one gallon container filled with water.
  3. Allow the students to pour the water from the gallon into their particular measuring unit. As the students discover the different amounts, have the students record their findings.
  4. Allow students to see how many cups are in a pint, pints are in a quart, quarts are in a gallon.
  5. After they have “discovered” the correct equivalent measures, show them the Gallon Man organizer.


Students should be able to draw the gallon man.

Students should be able to make simple conversions with ease.

Use a worksheet with conversions from cups to gallons etc. (The students will be surprised at how easy the Gallon Man makes these conversions.)

Supplemental information

The “Gallon Man” is a large capital G. You draw four capital Q’s inside the “G”. You draw two capital P’s inside the of each Q. You place two lower case c’s inside each capital P.

After you have drawn your “gallon man”, you can simply look at it and make conversions easily.


This was a great idea that a good friend and colleague shared with me. It has helped my students tremendously. I hope that it will be beneficial to you as well.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • Mathematics (2010)
      • Grade 3

        • Measurement & Data
          • 3.MD.2Measure and estimate liquid volumes and masses of objects using standard units of grams (g), kilograms (kg), and liters (l).1 Add, subtract, multiply, or divide to solve one-step word problems involving masses or volumes that are given in the same units,...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Mathematics (2004)

Grade 3

  • Goal 2: Measurement - The learner will recognize and use standard units of metric and customary measurement.
    • Objective 2.02: Estimate and measure using appropriate units.
      • Capacity (cups, pints, quarts, gallons, liters).
      • Length (miles, kilometers).
      • Mass (ounces, pounds, grams, kilograms).
      • Temperature (Fahrenheit, Celsius).