Learn About Measurements Using a Homemade Scale

Create a balance scale to compare weights of household objects.

Which is heavier, my marble or my teddy bear? Measuring different things in our daily lives is an essential principle in early math. With this easy craft, we make a scale from household materials to compare different weights.

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This activity is included in backpacks PBS SoCal shares with parents of young children in our communities. The Frieda Berlinski Foundation is helping us offer these activities as digital tools for other parents who can watch these videos everywhere.

Learning Goal

In this activity, children will explore measurable attributes of objects, such as length and weight. Together, families and kids will create a balance scale to compare different weights.


  • 1 Ruler
  • 2 Paper cups
  • Scotch tape
  • 1 marker
  • Small counting teddy bears
  • Marbles


Step 1: Attach the marker to the ruler. Place a marker at the center of a ruler (around the 6-inch mark) so it makes a cross. Tape the marker down to the ruler to secure it.

Step 2: Attach the cups. Take your two cups and flip them upside down. Tape each end of the ruler to the bottom of each cup.

Step 3: Flip the cups upward again. It’s a scale!

Bonus: Can your child find five items around the house that could fit inside the cup?

Step 4: Now you can compare objects by weight. Explore weight by putting a different number of marbles in each cup and observe what happens.

Bonus: Before adding items to the cups, ask your child which cup will weigh more and why?

Step 5: Compare the weight of different types of objects. Add a marble to one cup and a small teddy bear to the other cup.

Keep the conversation going

  • Use any other objects to compare their weights!
  • Is there an object that is small but weighs more than a larger item?
  • How many of each item can you fit in each cup?

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