Measuring Volume of Soil in a Raised Bed

Part of the "There's Dirt in my Bed" Collection


Students will calculate the volume of soil in their garden.

Estimated Time

45 Minutes

Setting Required



  • CCSS.M.5.MD.C.3. Student will recognize volume as an attribute of solid figures and understand concepts of volume measurement.
  • CCSS.M.5.MD.C.4. Students will measure volumes by counting unit cubes, using cubic cm, cubic in, cubic ft, and improvised units.
  • CCSS.M.5.MD.C.5. Students will relate volume to the operations of multiplication and addition and solve real world and mathematical problems involving volume.


  • Tape measures (1 per small group)
  • Set of about 50 unifix cubes (1 per small group)


  1. Optional: Complete the Square Foot Garden collection to review area and perimeter.
  2. Challenge students in small groups to determine the volume of a raised bed (how many cubic square feet can fit into the raised bed) in order to determine how much soil would be needed to fit it. Provide students with a tape measure and with unifix cubes.
  3. Guide students in calculating the volume by calculating the surface area (in square feet) then multiplying it by the depth of the bed to find the cubic feet.
  4. Model for students how to create a model of the bed using unifix cubes with the scale being 1 inch (the side of a unifix cube) equaling 1 foot (on the raised bed). In this way, students can double check their calculations of the volume of the raised bed.
  5. Challenge students to determine the total volume all of the raised beds using the concept that volume is additive.