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Language and Communication Activities to understand and use the concepts of full and empty  This resource has been viewed by a moderator.


These activities help your child to develop understanding and use of the concepts 'full' and 'empty'.

Early years skill:Shape, space and measure
Early years typical range:22-36m
P-scales/Curriculum skill:Maths Shape Space and Measures
P-scales/Curriculum level:P6
TAP skill:Understanding of Language/Comprehension
TAP level:TAP36
Pre/Nat. Curriculum Area:not specified
Pre/Nat. Curiculum Standard:not specified
Section:Early Years (0-5yrs) info; Primary (5-11yrs) info
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Activity/strategy name and materials required How to do the activity Key principles for doing the activity and comments
Introducing full/empty

- full/empty symbols - click here to print

- play activity - water/sand/soil/small toys

- different containers

1. Print and cut out the symbols set you wish to use - you could work on full empty straight away or simply if by using full/not full.

2. With your chosen play equipment, model to your child what full and empty look like with a range of different containers and items to fill them.

3. Comment on your child playing, encourage them to make full containers then empty them.

If your child is finding it challenging to grasp the difference between full and empty. Choose one concept first, e.g. full, and use 'not full' as the alternative. Once you are confident that your child understands this concept you can start to teach the concept of empty.

Water play

- Aprons for you and child

- Symbol for 'full' and 'empty' - click here to print

- Four identical see-through containers

- Two large  jugs/bottles

- Paper towels

- Plastic sheet to work over




1. Present your child with two clear containers (i.e. clear glass or plastic).

2. You also have two clear containers.

3. Show them the empty symbol and say "Look. Empty".

4. Show them the jug of water.

5. Pour the water into a container until it is full. Stop and show your child the container. Say "Full" and show them the symbol.

7. Show them the other container and say "Empty" and show them the symbol.

8. Say "your turn" and then push their containers nearer to them. Give them the jug and say "pour". Encourage them to fill the container until it is full. Say "stop". Show them the 'full' symbol and say "full".

9. Continue to take turns making the containers full and empty.

Watering the garden

- Watering can

- Garden/soil

- Water

- Symbols for 'full' and 'empty' - click here to print

1. Tell your child what you are going to do, for example, "We're going to water the garden".

2. Show your child the watering can and say what it is ("watering can").

3. Show them the inside of the watering can and say "empty" - show the empty symbol.

4. Take the child with you to the sink/outside tap and fill it up. Show them the contents and say "full" - show the full symbol.

5. Take them outside and together water the garden until the watering can is empty. Say "empty" and show the empty watering can.

6. Say "more?" and take them back to the sink/outside tap. Fill up the watering can. Again, when it is full say "full" and proceed to water the garden.

7. Finish the activity when your garden is watered.

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