Toddlers and preschoolers always love to weigh every item. They play “Which one is heavier?” game and we can now help them make a balance scale at home. Side by side you can also teach them about gravity.
My elder daughter is 7 years old now and she started learning about measurement and weights in Maths. So I had to make a homemade balance scale. Firstly, I thought it would be very difficult to make a balance scale but once I started working on it I realized that it is much easier than I thought.
Our balance scale is a simple balance, a rod with a pan at each end that is suspended in the middle. This is a perfect activity for introducing the kids to the concepts of weight and measurement. So let us add little balance to our day-to day life.
What Your Child Will Learn or Practice
- How to compare and contrast objects
- Estimation skills
- Measurement skills
- Force of gravity
- Two identical paper plates
- Measuring tape
- Pencils to mark
- A long and big straw
- Jump clips
- Paper clips
- A long stick (should be of same length like straw)
Building a Balancing Scale
Balance scales are often used to find weight. Balance scales work like a seesaw. They have two main parts: the beam and the fulcrum.
1) Making Baskets for the scale: To make a homemade balance scale at home, we require two identical paper plates. Punch three holes to each plate using a hole punch. Make sure to make the holes close to the rim of the paper plates and in a triangular shape. If you don’t have paper plates, you can make use of plastic or paper cups to serve the purpose.
2) Making the strings: Take six pieces of woollen thread that are each around two feet long and cut. You can use any kind of strings which perfectly balances the balance scale. Thick and strong strings make the balance scale more durable. After you cut the strings, please check whether all the strings are of same length or not. If not adjust them by cutting using scissors.
3) Attaching the strings to the plates: Insert the three strings to one of the paper plate separately in to the three holes made. Repeat the same to the other paper plate as well. Then bring the free ends of the strings together to the centre point and give a knot. Insert a paper pin around the knot as if to hold the paper plate perfectly. You can follow our pictures to get an idea on how to insert and tie up the strings.
4) Making a beam: Beam holds the objects to be weighed in the weighing baskets. In order to make beam, measure the length of the long straw and cut according to our required length. It depends on how big we are going to make the balance scale.
5) Attach the weighing baskets to the beam: Now beam is ready in your hands. Insert two jump clips one each at the free end of the straw as shown in the figure. These jump clips help to hold the weighing baskets freely on both sides of the beam. Now the model looks like a see-saw. J Take a piece of woollen string and tie it to the beam exactly in the middle. This helps to hold the beam to the fulcrum.
My younger kid Tisha started shouting and clapping seeing the see saw like model thinking that I am going to make one of her play area rides. J Sometimes kids are too innocent to understand the things that are happening around. No matter what she understands but younger kids enjoy watching this activity.
6) Making fulcrum: Fulcrum is also one of the major parts of a simple balance. It helps to hold the beam up and move. Take the wooden stick and a pencil and tie up both together. Now bring the stick and pencil perpendicular to each other. See the figures for reference. Now attach beam and the fulcrum with the help of the small woollen string (in the middle of the beam). But where!? The answer is you can attach to one free end of the pencil. Almost we are nearing to end the activity.
7) Wrapping up: Now that your balance scale is almost ready. I made a thick and hard base using hard thermocol sheet. Tisha was excited to paint thermocol and she used black color to paint. We made a hole exactly in the centre of the thermocol base so that we can insert our simple balance scale in the hole.
Now we are ready with the homemade balance scale to measure and weigh the objects. It is easy to weigh any objects using balance scale. Place the objects that you wish to weigh on one side of the weighing balance machine. Add standard weights to the other pan. Check the weight of the objects being placed according to the standard weights.
Here is our little homemade balance scale. My elder daughter proudly displayed it to all her friends in our society and explained how the balance scale works to measure weights. My kids enjoyed weighing the small objects like paper pins, dice etc…Every day they are using balance scale measuring whatever the objects they find in the home. 🙂 As a parent I am very happy to see kids learning some simple craft science experiments even at home. I highly recommend you to try out this simple experiment along with your kids and do amaze everyone around you with your discoveries and research.
Building a Simple Balance Scale Using Coat Hanger
I wanted to make a simpler version of the balance scale to teach my younger one. Here is another version of balance scale that you can try at home.
This 10 minutes craft is fun and can be made by kids very easily. Tisha my 2.11-year-old little one enjoyed making this and went crazy at the end of the day. It was so exciting and she was looking for objects at home to weigh them. Did not spare any single toy from weighing.
She compared weights of the following things.
- Christmas baubles
- Costume jewels
- Lego Duplo animals
- Decorative pebbles
She will collect things in the bucket and run to the balance scale and weight them. We composed a song in a rhythm and shouted “Which is heavier?” while comparing the buckets and she will point to the bucket that is heavier correctly. I will ask her how. Then she will explain to me that the bucket with more weight will go down when compared to the other.
I was happy for my Tisha as for her age she understood gravity very clearly.
Things required to make DIY Balance Scales
- paper cups – 2
- children’s clothes hanger and notches
- kitchen twine
- single hole punch
Links (*Affiliate) are added so that you can purchase things in case they are not available at home. However, I had all at home.
How to make a DIY balance scale using coat hanger
- Take one coat hanger and hang it in a place where it can swing. But make sure it is not tied at a height. Let it be accessible to kids. I did it on my pantry door.
- Using a hole punch create holes in the paper cup to tie twines of equal length and make it look like a bucket.
Let it be lengthier so that kids can handle them easily. Also, they can remove and hang them on their own.
3. Instruct kids to fill the bucket with things.
Let them feel free to do it and anything can be filled. As long as it is solid in nature to avoid any mess. Let the kids guess which will be heavier before they see the results.
4. Now by adding the buckets with the hanger, your kids can witness the heaviest bucket by noticing that heavier one moves down.
If they have guessed it correctly, then ask them how? Also, teach them about gravity. Allow them to change things and understand better about weight and balancing.
Slowly they will get a hold. Show them about balancing with equal weights in both buckets as well.
Do not keep on tracking them but let them explore and ask them to make a note of their observation. But let them guess every time to make sure they understand the weights correctly.
Tisha was explaining her dad with so much excitement and demonstrated everything to her.
This kept them busy in their “Which one is heavier?” game for couple of hours 🙂