Area and Perimeter – Helpful resources

Kids struggle with this topic.  They find the area by adding all the sides and multiply to find the perimeter… Or worse they add then multiply in a complex calculation!  Now I’m not saying i’ve cracked it using the resource below my kids have spent the week wrestling with challenging questions that has had them deeply engaged and discussing the two to an extent that I hope will mean long term gain.

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Blank 100 grid game

I’m finding more and more uses for a blank 100 number grid and this wee game is fast becoming my S1’s favourite.  In pairs, pupils are given a blank 100 grid, two different coloured pencils and two dice.  They take turns to roll and what ever numbers they are given they have to draw a rectangle with those dimensions on the grid e.g. if they roll a 4 and a 3 they’d draw a four by three (or three by four) rectangle. Play until grid is complete – winner has most squares coloured in or for a twist – whoever draws the last rectangle.

What do the pupils learn from this?

  • Simple motor skills of using a ruler
  • Simple counting – it’s amazing how the really poor kids will draw a five by three instead of four by three because they don’t count the first box as “it belongs to the three boxes”
  • Timestables – kinesthetic practice of 4 x 3 etc.
  • Strategy – where to put the rectangles on the grids
  • Probability – some numbers come up more than others – so they say – investigations to be pursued!
  • Area of a rectangle – by default and without mentioning it for the first few weeks of playing the game… Bonus!!!

Extensions I have been mulling over and will look to introduce this week are:

  • Add the numbers instead of multiply to give area and pupils will have to decide the rectangle dimensions
  • Use of half squares
  • Don’t need to draw rectangles
  • The number from the dice (added or multiplied) has to be the perimeter

Here is a blank 100 grid sheet if you fancy giving this a go.


NRich Worksheet

With all the kids practice of area of a rectangle within the game it seemed appropriate not to get them doing a simple textbook exercise so I had a look on my hard drive and found this beauty of a worksheet:

NRich Website – Area and Perimeter

The kids worked in pairs trying to come up with rectangles and other shapes which would meet the criteria asked of them which resulted in far more practice of area and perimeter calculations than would’ve been carried out if they were doing a straightforward ‘find the area/perimeter’ type worksheet/exercise. More than that though; my kids showed great resilience and the ‘have-a-go’ attitude that I’ve been wanting to see for months!

They drew lots of shapes and started to think about half squares (I could’ve jumped on this, went off on a tangent and talked about Pythagoras’ Theorem but instead I just told them the length of diagonal was 1.4 and built the suspense of “we’ll learn how to work this out for ourselves next year”) and some kids got very creative with their shapes e.g. one pupil drew a robot where squares were removed from rectangle head to make area less without effecting perimeter.

They might not have twigged onto logical processes that some of their peers in higher sets would have; they were mostly using blind luck and trial and error but they were thinking about what they were doing and noticing some patterns and that’s all I ever want from my kids 🙂

All in all, they’ll probably still get mixed up between working out area and perimeter but they’ve had more practice using these two resources with not a bored sigh heard all week.  I’m calling that a success.

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