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Monday, April 22, 2013

Perimeter and Area

We finished our perimeter and area unit several weeks ago (right before fractions!), but I never got around to posting some of the fun things we did.  This was really a review for my kids, so it was fun to pull out some of the more inquiry-based activities and watch them go to town.

 We started our review by making this anchor chart.  We needed to review how to find perimeter and area of irregular shapes, which is why there are two examples.  The kids caught on to this much more quickly than I thought they would!

Then we did one of my all time favorite perimeter and area lessons.  I LOVE it!  We use Spaghetti and Meatballs for All by Marilyn Burns.  The book is all about how a family has a big spaghetti dinner and has to figure out how to seat all of the people invited with only 2 chairs.  They try several different arrangements in the hilarious story, and all along the way, we chart the seating arrangements and compare the area and perimeter.  The kids all have 8 tiles (the amount of tables they have) that they can manipulate as we read the story and then record it on our paper.  There is a great free lesson at Beacon Learning (click here) that walks you through teaching it and also provides you with a worksheet similar to my anchor chart above.  I have used this lesson with kids in grades 3-5, and I've never had a kid NOT love it and learn something from it.  By the end, they are YELLING at the characters in the story trying to tell them how to arrange the chairs.

It also has great extension activities.  At the end, I always ask my students to figure out how they could seat 12, 16, 24, etc. people, and they enjoy that part, too.

Since this is such a great real-life concept to apply this skill to, I keep it going with my perimeter and area math project.

In this math project, the students have to build their own city.  They start by laying it all out, then they "zoom in" on the buildings in separate guided tasks.  I LOVE it!  You can see the project HERE.

This is another one of my favorite activities for the older kiddos.  I think I originally got some version of this idea from a Mailbox Tips magazine and then have adapted it over the years to meet my needs.  It hits on so much...the relationship between area and perimeter, finding missing measurements, additive area, etc.  And it's so easy... just whip out some index cards for groups of kids and have them find different combinations of cards to make different shapes.  I require that one of the shapes by width to width and one of the shapes be length to length, and then the rest they get to configure any way they want.  In the end, they realize that even if shapes have the same area, they can have a different perimeter.

Again...this is a VERY valuable lesson when trying to teach missing measurement and area of irregular shapes.  They know that every index card is a 3x5, so no matter (almost) how they put it together, they should be able to figure out all of the side lengths.  I can't recommend this activity enough.

I also blogged about using pentominoes to teach area and perimeter.  Another great hands on lesson for this skill!

You can read more about this activity HERE!

And finally...would any of my math units feel complete without a good ole' set of task cards?  Of course not!  The kids finished these task cards as their assessment.  I even have a few bonus cards in there for students to really show what they know. Click here if you are interested in purchasing these Perimeter and Area Task Cards.


  1. I have a practicum student who needs to teach a math with literacy lesson and this is PERFECT for kicking off our area and perimeter unit. Thank you!

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  3. They're all so pretty! Great activities for kids. These days, most would just keep them occupied...and quiet playing games on their ipads

    kids learning and fun

  4. You got me excited to teach Area and Perimeter! Just put the book Spaghetti and Meatballs on hold at my school and adding these ideas to my lessons.Thanks so much for sharing!

    I Heart Teaching Elementary

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