Starting at around third grade, students make the transition from learning shape names to actually performing calculations with them. We’ve put together our favorite ways for teaching area and perimeter for all types of learners. Choose your favorites to implement in your classroom.
1. Make an area and perimeter anchor chart
Start with an anchor chart! This clever option lays out the differences and similarities between area and perimeter measurements.
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2. Decorate your classroom
Many students have trouble remembering the difference between area and perimeter. But if they pass this display on their way out of the classroom each day, they will eventually get it!
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3. Snack while you learn
Square snacks like Cheez-Its are perfect for a hands-on activity with area and perimeter. Starburst candies work as well too.
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4. Pull out the pattern blocks
This is a great way to introduce perimeter without introducing the actual formulas right away. Students can simply count the sides, which gets them ready for the next step.
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5. Read Spaghetti and Meatballs for All!
In Spaghetti and Meatballs for All!, the Comfort family reunion gets more complicated as guests insist on rearranging the seating chart. Read the book, and have students draw and calculate the table formations as you go.
6. Draw a Perimeter Person
Have students draw themselves on graph paper, then figure out the area and perimeter. So cute!
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7. Make a math mosaic
Projects like these put the “A” in STEAM! Have students use square sticky notes to make a self portrait mosaic, or any other theme you choose. They can write in their calculations around the figure.
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8. Explore area and perimeter with LEGO bricks
LEGOs are the perfect teaching tool for talking about area and perimeter. Plus, children love them!
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9. Sing a catchy song
This cool little tune will help students remember when and how to use area and perimeter calculations.
10. Write block letter names
Students love activities using their own names. Draw them using block letters, then calculate the perimeter and area. (Name too long? Try initials instead.)
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11. Use your floor tiles for area and perimeter
Got square floor tiles? Use blue painter’s tape (it peels off easily, we promise) to make shapes and have your students calculate the areas.
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12. Bring out the pentominoes
If you’ve played Tetris, you’ll recognize pentomino blocks. They’re a great tool to have on hand for a variety of math activities, including perimeter and area.
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13. Grab your geoboards
Geoboards are another terrific tool that belong in every elementary classroom. (Find more great ways to use them here.)
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14. Use area and perimeter to furnish a room
Students love to ask, “But when I will ever use this in real life?” Area and perimeter actually have a lot of real-life applications, like this project where students fill a room with furniture to see if they can make it all fit.
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15. Build a city
One room isn’t enough? Build a city! This is a cool activity for students who are ready to move on to volume, too.
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16. Send them on an area and perimeter scavenger hunt
Need a quick and easy activity? Hand out rulers to students and send them off to measure lengths and widths of items. At their seats they can then calculate the perimeter.
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17. Make a π plate
Working on the area of circles? Make these cute pi plates!
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18. Play ‘Conquer the Area’
Grab graph paper and a pair of dice, then play this classic game that’s all about perimeter and area.
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19. Remind them to use the formulas
Counting squares is a good way to understand the concept, but eventually, students need to learn the formulas. Grab the free printable cards at the link below to give them some practice.
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