Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Workshop Wednesday: Math-Area

It's Workshop Wednesday and I'll be focusing on AREA today! I have lots of fun and engaging ideas to share with you today!

Did you know you can teach area with Post-Its?
**Disclosure: I promise I do not work for 3M, although I would like to!
Post-Its fit PERFECTLY on graph paper making it a great manipulative for students! I placed 5 different size sticky notes and numbered them on the graph paper. They had to calculate the area on their own paper. If you look at the picture on the bottom left you see a student using the "array" method to calculate the area. The student on the bottom right lifted the sticky note to count the boxes. When I observed this, we discussed different strategies for determining the area.
MORE Post-It uses!!! Do you know that chart paper that has the squares (close up on bottom)? This paper holds those sticky treasures perfectly too! This is a great model to break apart the shape.
As a challenge (and one more use of sticky notes!), I gave my students two different size Post-Its and a specified area to find. They worked in groups to solve. Most groups had different shapes or different amounts of each size of sticky note, but they all arrived at the same area. Again, a teachable moment to demonstrate shapes can have the same area, but not look the same.
A really cool observation I made was students realizing the 3"x3" sticky notes had an area of 9 and the 2"x3" sticky notes had an area of 6, so they just used multiples and factors to determine how many of each they would need to get the specified area. Much faster and smart thinking! That makes me an excited and proud teacher when I see math transfer over to different concepts!
One of my favorite ways to teach area of an irregular shape is to have students find the area of their shoe! First of all, they think taking off their shoe and tracing it is fun! haha! After they trace their shoe they shade in all the "whole" squares one color and shade in the "less than one whole" squares another color. I have them count all the whole squares, then count all the less than whole squares and divide by two, and finally, add the two numbers together. We discuss when measuring irregular shapes it is an estimate and they will answer with "about _____". There are some squares that are almost filled and some that are barely filled, so together they almost even out (which is why count them as half).

Some students wrote the numbers in each box to keep track, and others just placed a dot to count.
Of course, I have to model this lesson, so I traced my heel! :) Notice the difference between their shoe drawing and mine? I don't have as much to count!
*Just another reason to wear heels!
For fun, I thought I'd have them find the area of their was much harder to make those letters than they thought! If you want a challenging activity, this is it!

Our students have to be able to "cut" a shape apart and find the area. I made some shapes for them to physically cut apart and measure the area of each shape, then add together. This hands on activity helped them to understand the "cutting apart". This help transfer to the shapes in their book that you can't cut. Score!
My students love Scoot, so I created this Area Scoot for them. It's a compilation of all the skills we've covered and learned, a perfect assessment!
To further my students understanding and offer them a creative challenge, I'm using my friend Matt's (Digital: Conquer & Divide)  Zoo Design Area & Perimeter. One word: AMAZING! Such a thorough resource with two levels (both look the same, so you're struggling students won't know the difference!). It's such a great culminating project to finish up our unit!
I hope you can use some of the ideas to teach area! I'd love to hear from you, please leave a comment! :)


  1. Your shoe print looks like those crazy new shoes you posted the picture for the other I right??? Of course you would find a way to include Post-Its into your math curriculum. :) They should definitely send you some freebies for all the promotion you give them!!

    Mrs. Laffin's Laughings

  2. I absolutely love these ideas! Thanks for sharing!

    PAWSitively Teaching.

  3. I have used the shoe and name before... totally forgot about using them this year!!! I will have to use these for a review at a center! Loved the resources... off to spend money!!!


  4. You are one brave "sole" for letting the kids take their shoes off to find the area. I don't do stinky feet very well. Lol! Okay for real....I need to contact 3M. They NEED you on their staff! I'm pretty sure you have thought of more things than maybe some of the people that work there that get big bucks to think of ideas on how to use Post-Its. I love Matt's Zoo Design too. Definitely a wonderful resource that everyone needs to check out! XOXO
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

  5. I love all of these great ideas! We start area next week...I'll definitely be coming back to add some things to my lesson plans!
    Short and Sassy Teacher

  6. Oh you and your post-its! You come up with such creative ideas to use them!! I looooove all of your ideas in this post! Sorry it took me so long to comment........ the email got buried and guess what I'm doing today? Cleaning out email! LOL I agree with Alison, you should work for 3M on the side! ;-)

  7. This is soooo wonderful! I'm soooo glad that I stumbled upon it. I can't wait to do this its my own class..:)

  8. This is soooo wonderful! I'm soooo glad that I stumbled upon it. I can't wait to do this its my own class..:)


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