Saturday, October 29, 2011

Don't Forget to "Squarea" the Area

When teaching my students area, I sing a little chant: "Don't forget to 'squarea' the area, or your teacher will pull out all her hair-ea!" After that we find the hAREA, I mean area of some large squares. I hit my local salon up for some old hairstyle magazines, cut some 1 inch squares out of card-stock, and put kids into teams of two. If you don't have hairstyle magazines, no sweat, any magazine will do. Animal magazines work very well, too. I tell the kids they may use pictures of fur or hair. Then students scour the magazines, and when they find some hair they use their template to trace and cut out. Finally they glue their hair squares to the large square until it is completely cover. All that's left is for them to find the area or hArea of their large square. I can't take all the credit for this idea. My sister and best friend,Victoria Jones, came up with this idea for her students in Virgina. This lesson is one that really sticks and helps them remember the difference between area and perimeter. It also helps them remember that you have to label square units when finding area and that is truly Classroom Magic!

Teaching Idea of the Week:

If you have tile floors use masking tape to outline some irregular shapes. Have students find the perimeter and area of each one. I put a number label in the corner of each and have them fill in a worksheet for all the floor shapes. I make them physically walk the perimeter. I deliberately make the perimeter the same on all the shapes. It's a real eye opener for them to discover that shapes can have the same perimeter but be a different shape and have different areas. The pictured irregular shape has a perimeter  of 16 feet and area of 8 square feet. I always include one regular rectangle, too.

Anchor Chart of the Week:
This weeks anchor chart is from the above activity. I attached some of the student's work and added the chant.

Question of the Week:
I would love to hear about your ideas. What activities do you use to teach area?


  1. I love this activity!

  2. This is such a great idea for teaching area! Every year my grade 4's look at me like I have three heads when I try to explain the difference between area and perimeter! Hopefully this activity will help them understand it-- and remember it!

  3. Amy, I hope this activity works for you. It seems to have helped with my 4th graders.

  4. I have been looking for new area ideas everywhere. Thank You!