Aesop's Arithmetic

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In this activity (located on page 9 of the PDF), learners are introduced to Aesop's fable, "The Crow and the Pitcher." In the story, a clever crow drops pebbles into a pitcher to cause the water level to rise. Eventually, the water is high enough for the crow to take a drink. Learners predict and experiment to see how many pebbles it would take to create the same outcome as in the fable. Use this activity to introduce the concepts of volume and displacement.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
free per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 11

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Small buckets or tall cups
  • Water
  • Pebbles or any other materials you have handy, like beans or marbles
  • The Crow and the Pitcher (fable by Aesop)


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Structure
      • Oceans and Water
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
  • Physical Sciences
    • States of Matter
      • Liquids
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Volume and Density
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results

Informal Categories

  • Literature


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



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