Keeping students excited and engaged about what they are doing in math class is always a struggle, since most teachers have a variety of learning styles from students such as auditory, visual, and hands-on. Having students play with Play-doh is the next best thing since it reaches all learners.
Instructions: Many of my students had heard somewhere along the way that volume equaled length times width times height. So, I started by having them make a rectangular prism out of their Play-Doh.
Once it was made, I had them draw a picture of it in their Geometry Booklets. Then they measured and recorded the length, width, and height of their prism in centimeters. Next, I had them cut their prism into 1 centimeter lengths. They observed that the cross sections were squares. I had them find the area of this square. We talked about how many slices they had. So if their area was 6 centimeters squared and they had four slices how could they find the volume of the box? They quickly deduced that they needed to multiply the 6 by 4 to arrive at 24 cm cubed.
I repeated this for a cylinder and a triangular prism. We observed what the cross sections were, found the areas of our cross sections, and then found the volume. To sum it all up, we talked about how volume of a prism or cylinder is the area of the base (cross-section) times the height (number of slices).