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Preschool Balance Scale Activity: What is Mass?

Make your own balance scale to compare household items and measure them by mass with this preschool balance scale activity!

This preschool balance scale STEAM activity is so simple to set up! It’s also a great activity to inspire scientific learning.

I love preschool aged kiddos because they are super curious about how things work. This balance scale activity is a great activity to introduce scientific, mathematical, and engineering concepts. 

Make your own balance scale to compare household items and measure them by mass with this preschool balance scale activity! #STEAMactivities #preschoolSTEAM #littleengineers #kidengineers #simplemachines #DIYbalancescale #STEMactivities #engineeringactivitiesforkids

Our goals were to make observations about the physical properties of each object, measure and compare the mass of each object, and measure the mass of each object with a non-standard unit.

To encourage the practice of observing and recording results, I came up with a simple Balance Scale workbook that an adult can help with.

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Why STEAM Activities?

STEAM is the abbreviation for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math.

For the month of October, we will be sharing a daily low-prep STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) activity. You and your kiddos are going to love all of the low-prep STEAM activities that we have in store at OurFamilyCode! #daysofSTEAM #31dayschallenge #STEAMactivitiesforkids #monthofSTEAM #scienceforkids #engineeringforkids #technologyforkids #artforkids #mathforkids #lowprepSTEAM #5minuteSTEAM #STEAM #STEM

STEAM, like STEM, is an integrated approach to learning that encourages learners to make connections between the concepts they are learning and how they apply them to real-world problems.

STEAM helps students ask questions, problem solve, think creatively, and produce innovative solutions. Many schools have adopted STEAM learning activities into their curriculum, but it’s never too early to start building critical thinking skills.

We love to learn through play at our house and have a blast doing activities for toddlers all the way to tweens!

STEAM Kids Pin

Looking for some more hands-on activities that incorporate Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM)? Then you have to check out STEAM Kids! 

This book features more than 50 hands-on activities that are organized into easy to implement categories, so you know exactly what concepts your kids are learning! 

Grab your copy from Amazon today or get instant access to this great book by purchasing a downloadable PDF!

Key Simple Machines and Mass Activity Terms 

Weight is the measure of the pull or force of gravity on an object and mass is the amount of matter in an object and a measure of the force needed to accelerate it.

A lever is a simple machine that is made of a fulcrum and beam with an input force and an output force. A balance scale is a Class 1 type lever designed with the fulcrum in between the load and the effort.

The fulcrum is the point on which a lever moves. Load is the mass the lever is trying to move, while effort is the force that moves the lever.

Think about a seesaw. The fulcrum of a seesaw is the center point on which the board balances. The load would be the amount of mass on one end that is moved by the effort that moves the seesaw.

This activity also explores key terms such as equal, balanced, more than, less than, compare, heavier, and lighter.

You might also like: Free Bingo Marker Letter Recognition Workbook for Preschoolers

Preschool DIY Balance Scale Activity Supplies

  • Shoebox lid
  • Can of soup
  • Marker
  • Tape
  • 2 plastic cups
  • Pencil
  • 15 pennies
  • 10 nickels
  • Small objects (gems, rocks, building bricks, blocks, shells, dice, etc.)
  • Optional: Magnets (We use these magnets for all of our crafts and activities.)
  • Free Balance Scale Workbook (grab this at the end of the post)

Preschool Balance Scale STEAM Activity

Begin with a handful of different sized objects. Write the objects you are using in your Balance Scale Workbook.

Balance Scale Workbook - Record Objects Used

Next, use physical properties to sort your objects from largest to smallest. Record your objects in your workbook.

balance scale order by size
Balance Scale Workbook - Record Objects Used

Build a balance scale with a can of soup (you can also use a pencil), a shoebox lid, tape, and a marker. The can of soup will be your fulcrum.

Tape the can of soup to a surface, so it doesn’t roll. Balance your shoebox lid on top of the soup. Do not use tape to secure the lid to the can.

Place two empty cups on either end of your shoebox lid. Make sure that the cups are all the way to the end on either side. Make sure that the cups are balanced before beginning.

I used magnets on the inside and underneath my shoebox to secure the cups in place. Make sure to balance your lid if you chose to add magnets to your cups.

DIY lever balance scale
balance scale with magnets

Use your balance scale to measure your different objects and compare them to one another. Record your results in your Balance Scale Workbook.

balance scale compare objects

Did the order of your items change from Step 1? 

Balance Scale Workbook - Sort Objects by Mass

Use pennies to measure the mass of your objects. Make sure to record how many pennies each object weighs in your Balance Scale Workbook.

balance scale weigh with pennies
The mass of our rock was equal to 8 pennies.
Balance Scale Workbook - Record Mass in Pennies and Nickels

Invite your child to explore independently. Use the balance scale cards in your workbook to help guide them.

Balance Scale Task Cards

Questions to Discuss During Your Balance Scale Activity

  • Does the size of an object always determine its mass?
  • Do you have a small object that has more mass than you expected?
  • Do you have a large object that has less mass than you thought?

Levers in Our Everyday Life

Some levers in our everyday life include: seesaws, scissors, tweezers, crowbars, bottle openers, and hammers!


STEAM word design

Connect this Preschool STEAM Activity with other STEAM Buckets

Check out these STEAM extensions!


Pair this with a density experiment and place each item in a density tower to compare the density of each item. Larger items don’t always have more mass than smaller items.


Use the K6 Think Central Math Tools balance scale to explore more objects.


You built a balance scale, which is a lever. This is a way to introduce simple machines to preschoolers. Discuss other types of levers. Move your fulcrum to one side of your lid and show how you can lift heavier items by using this type of lever.


Use the Balance Scale worksheet provided to write the names of your objects. Draw a picture on the back to show the size of each item in Step 1.


Graph your results. Use one color for pennies and another color for nickels. Discuss what you see.

Some Books to Read with Your Preschool Balance Scale Activity

We love incorporating books into our activities. Here are some great books about mass and simple machines to read with your activity!

Looking for more preschool STEAM activities? Check these out!

31 Days of STEAM Activities AD

31 Days of Low-Prep STEAM Activities for Kids

This activity is part of our 31 Days of Low-Prep STEAM Activities for Kids. Every activity focuses on each of the buckets of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, & Math) although these integrated projects fit in more than one bucket.

You and your kiddos are going to love all of the activities that we have in store! Visit the 31 Days of Low-Prep STEAM Activity hub and pin it, so you can come back and visit it daily!


preschool balance scale measuring mass activity

Hands-on Toddler & Preschool Activities

Find more hands-on learning activities for toddlers and preschoolers!

Meet Toni, the Maker Mom behind Our Family Code

A picture of Toni, the author, wearing a green tie dyed shirt.

Hey there, I’m Toni! I’m a software engineer and Maker Mom that finds my joy in unleashing my children’s curiosity by exploring STEAM concepts with my fantastic five!

When I’m not chasing toddlers or raising tweens, you can find me tearing things up and putting them back together over here at Our Family Code.

I am the owner and content creator of multiple educational websites designed to increase access to STEAM & STEM education with a focus on teaching computer science and coding to kids of all ages!

You can also find out more about me by visiting!

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Mary Leigh @ Live Well Play Together

Sunday 7th of October 2018

What a fun idea! My son would love testing out different objects! We can't wait to give this a try!

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