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Team Digital

Basics on the topic Capacity

In this capacity video…

Freddie and Zuri are contestants in a baking competition. They have decided to bake a cake shaped like their van but, in order to do this, they need to learn more about capacity.

What is Capacity?

Sometimes we may wonder what is capacity in maths? Capacity is the amount that a container can hold. It’s a word we use to describe when the empty space in a container. We have different measurements for capacity depending on the size.

Units of capacity

These are the different measurements we use. The measurement used depends on the size of the container needed. As we need to hold more in a container, we change the unit of measurement.

What are the Units of Capacity?

There are many different units of capacity but in this video we think about metric units of capacity: millilitres and litres. Millilitres are a smaller measurement than litres. For example, a spoon like this could hold about 15 millilitres.


If we need to measure larger amounts of liquids we might use litres. For example, a bottle like this could contain about 4 litres which is 4,000 millilitres.


After the video, you can find additional capacity maths activities. There are exercises to practice and a capacity worksheet.

Transcript Capacity

“Let’s welcome our next bakers to the competition. Straight from the landfill it's Zuri and Freddie! Tell us what you will be baking.” “We will be making a triple berry cake in the shape of our van.” “Wow! That does look extreme! Ok, bakers, you have seven hours and all the supplies you need. Your time begins now.” In order to make the most extreme cake, Zuri and Freddie will need to know about capacity. Capacity is the amount that a container can hold. We can use the word to describe the empty space of a container. We often measure capacity using litres and millilitres. Different containers can hold different amounts. For example, a spoon might hold five millilitres. A small jug might hold five hundred millilitres. A tub like this might hold a litre which is one thousand millilitres. A bowl like this might hold two litres and a bottle like this might hold four litres. The measurement used depends on the size of the container needed. As we need to hold more in a container, we change the unit of measurement. We use these units of measurements in many areas of life especially when we are cooking or baking. Let's take a look at Zuri and Freddie's cake baking skills to help us understand the measurements. The smallest unit of measurement Zuri and Freddie are using today is millilitres. We use this unit to measure liquids that we need a very small amount of. The vanilla and food colouring would be measured in millilitres and contained in teaspoons or tablespoons. If we need more than a few millilitres we could use a measuring jug like this. In recipes, when we need items like milk and cooking oil, we can use measuring jugs to measure and contain these ingredients. We can fill the jug many times when we need several units. Larger pieces of equipment can hold many litres. Zuri and Freddie would be able to put two jugfuls of liquid into this tub for example. And they could use an even bigger container if they need more! They could fit four jugfuls of liquid into this bowl. With only seconds left in the competition, let's review what we have learnt about capacity today. Remember capacity is the word used to describe what a container can hold. We have different measurements for capacity depending on the size. The units we often use to measure capacity are millilitres for measuring small amounts and litres for measuring larger amounts. "Bakers, your time is up. Let's take a look at your results!"

1 comment
1 comment
  1. Yahyaa

    From Yahyaa Zafar, 9 months ago

Capacity exercise

Would you like to apply the knowledge you’ve learnt? You can review and practice it with the tasks for the video Capacity.
  • What is the amount of space inside a container called?


    We often measure this using litres or millilitres.

    Length measures distance, not the amount of space inside a container.


    The maximum amount a container can hold is called the capacity.

    • length is the measure of distance
    • containers are used to hold things
    • jug is a type of container

  • Which container holds the most?


    A spoon holds a very small amount of liquid, only around 5 ml.

    A bucket holds a large amount of liquid, around 10 l.

    A small juice carton holds about 200 ml.


    The containers should be sorted from smallest to largest in this order:

    • teaspoon
    • juice carton
    • shampoo bottle
    • bucket

  • Matching containers to units.


    The largest container is the milk carton.

    Remember that millilitres (ml) are smaller than litres (l).

    • The smallest container is the teaspoon, this holds about 5 ml.
    • The second smallest container is the drinks can, this holds about 350 ml of liquid.
    • The next container is the jug of juice, this holds about 1 l.
    • The largest container is the milk carton, this holds about 2 l of liquid.
  • Statements about capacity.


    There are 3 correct statements.

    Use this image to help visualise the different sizes to measuring capacity.

    Remember that there are 1,000 millilitres in 1 litre.

    • A litre is larger than a millilitre ✅
    • There are 1,000 ml in a litre ✅
    • A teaspoon holds about 90 ml ❌
    • Capacity measures the space inside a container ✅
    • 100 ml is the same as 1 l ❌
    • Three jugs holding 500 ml is equivalent to 1 l ❌
  • What can we use to measure capacity?


    Can the item measure an amount of liquid?

    There are two items that can measure capacity here.


    The two items here that can measure capacity are the measuring jug and the water bottle.

    The ruler measures length and the scales measure mass.

  • Calculating with capacity.


    Look at the capacities shown on the image at the top. Use this to help with your calculations.

    Remember that 1,000 ml = 1 l so 2,000 ml = 2 l.


    The total capacity of these two containers would be 1,500 ml. This could also be written as 1.5 l

    • 1,000 + 500 = 1,500 ml or 1.5 l.
    Four of these jugs is the same as saying 4 x 500 ml which totals 2 l.
    • 4 x 500 = 2,000 ml. 2,000 ml = 2 l.

    To fill these two bowls, it would take 8 of the measuring jugs.

    • 1 jug = 500 ml so 2 jugs = 1,000 ml or 1 l. 4 jugs = 2 l and 8 jugs = 4 l.