Full, Half Full and Empty

Full, Half Full and Empty

Teaching the concept of empty and not empty to preschoolers

  • Empty is a word that means that there is nothing inside a container.
  • The word empty can only be used if there is strictly nothing inside.
  • As soon as a container contains anything, we can no longer use the word empty.

Empty means that there is nothing inside the container.

Not empty means that there is something inside the container.

Teaching the concept of full and half full to preschoolers

  • Full means that we have filled the whole container with no more space.
  • However we sometimes say the word full if the container is very close to full and there is a small amount of space left.
  • This is because sometimes it is difficult or not practical to entirely fill a container.
  • For example, when pouring a hot drink, you would not usually fill the cup completely to the top.
  • We say half full if we have filled exactly half of the container.
  • If we double the contents of a half full container, we get a full container.

Full means that there is no more space in the container.

Half full means that exactly half of the container is full.


Full and Empty Worksheets and Answers

The Meaning of Full, Half Full, Empty and Not Empty when Teaching Capacity

This is a lesson teaching the concept of full and empty, when first introducing capacity to children.

We will start with the word empty.

Empty means that there is nothing inside a container.

Here are some examples of empty containers.

teaching the concept of empty with an empty bucket, teacup and room

We have an empty bucket.

An empty room.

An empty teacup.

Empty is the easiest concept to start teaching when talking about capacity and you can find some examples of empty containers to help show this.

We have started teaching capacity with the word empty and so, we will now look at some items that are not empty.

For your child to understand the word empty, they must be able to distinguish between empty and not empty.

Intro to Capacity different between the concept of empty and not empty

You can teach this concept by picking empty objects such as an empty box, putting objects in and out of it, whilst saying empty and not empty as you do so.

The next concept to teach is the opposite of empty.

The word full means that the container has no more space inside.

We can see a full container in the example below.

teaching the concept of full to preschoolers

It is important to mention that we sometimes use the word full, despite the container having some small amount of space inside.

We can see in the examples above, there is still some space in the bucket, the cup and the paper bin, despite us describing them as full.

It is important to explain that while they are technically not full, we may use the word full if we cannot realistically put any more contents inside.

For example, we may not wish to completely fill a bucket or a hot drink as it is much easier to spill the contents.

The final term we will look at is half full.

Intro to Capacity and the meaning of half full

Full means that the container is filled completely to the top.

Half full means that we have exactly half of this.

Half full means that the container has the same amount of space as contents inside it.

To teach this concept it is important to first compare half full with simply not empty.

You can start with an empty flask, slowly fill it with water and ask your child to stop you when they think you have reached half full.


Now try our lesson on Introduction to Fractions where we learn how to write fractions.

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