With the right introductory activities, area can be an easy topic for students to understand.
By Christina Lee
When introducing area, I give my students a concrete example to help them understand this topic. I tell students that a way to visualize area is to take a look at the carpet that covers the floor in the classroom. Area ia a method for describing this entire space. I use the rectangle as one of the first examples for finding area. This is one of the easier examples of finding area, and since the shape of a classroom is a rectangle, the carpet analogy can continue. The area of a rectangle can be determined by counting the square units “inside” the rectangle or by multiplying the length by the width.
When students are first learning how to determine the area of a rectangle, I believe that counting the square units is a good way to start. Students are easily able to count the squares in a rectangle that is drawn on grid paper. A rectangle that is four square units long and three square units wide would have a total of 12 square units. For students who need an extra hands-on opportunity, using square unit cubes (placed on top of the rectangle on grid paper) are helpful as well. They can count four cubes across and three cubes down. They would need to fill out the rest of the space to create a rectangle. The total number of cubes used to create the rectangle would be the area. Once students understand that the number of square units in the rectangle make up the area, they often move on to determining the area by multiplying the length and the width, as this can be done more quickly.
In order to determine the area by multiplying the length and the width, students need to count the sides of the rectangle. The length and the width are multiplied together. Often times, this is the calculation that some students get wrong. They confuse the area with the perimeter. Some students add up the sides of the rectangle, and mistakenly find the perimeter when trying to determine the area. I explain that the area of a rectangle requires one to multiply the length and the width because the area of a rectangle is essentially the same as multiplication with an array. When finding the number of square units in an array, the quick and easy way is to multiply the two numbers together. By multiplying the length and the width, the area of the rectangle in square units is quickly determined. What follows are some more area lesson plans that can help your students better understand this topic.
This worksheet has students find the area of a rectangle by finding the number of square units in each problem. Students can multiply the length times the width, or count the number of square units in each rectangle to find the correct answer.
This is an online quiz in which students calculate the area of a rectangle. The length and width of the rectangles are given. The answers are input online and the answers are checked upon completion of the online quiz.
The worksheet has students calculate the area of various rectangles by multiplying length times width.
This review worksheet defines a square unit. It has a review section for finding the area of a polygon at the beginning of the worksheet.
Students determine the formula for area by using a real-life scenario—students in a video who are operating a lawn care business and their need to charge fees based on the area covered by their business. This lesson also has a variety of extension activities for math, science and writing.