Area and perimeter are the first geometry calculations students master. It’s important for students to understand what area and perimeter are, how to calculate them, and why they’re important. Here are our favorite area and perimeter activities to introduce, practice, and extend students’ work with area and perimeter.
1. Start with an anchor chart
Start with an anchor chart! This clever option lays out the differences and similarities between area and perimeter measurements, and the color coding will help students use it while solving problems.
Learn more: Area and Perimeter Anchor Chart at Room 330 Anchor Charts
2. Decorate your classroom
Use your classroom—doors, bulletin boards, tables—to reinforce the idea of area and perimeter. Students can refer to the decor to reinforce the concept, and if you need to reteach, you have a tool at the ready.
Get it: Free Area and Perimeter Posters at Math = Love
3. Use four square tiles
Once students understand what area and perimeter are, they work with four square blocks in this investigation to see how many ways they can create shapes with four blocks and calculate the area and perimeter of each shape they make. Are all the calculations the same or different? Why?
Try it: Four square tiles activity at Jillian Starr Teaching
4. Solve a ribbon square problem
The ribbon square problem is a more advanced application of area and perimeter, and it’s a great way to stretch higher learners who have really mastered the concepts. In this project, students address the problem: Students stand around a square swimming pool holding ribbons and have to make squares with the ribbons. How many squares can they make? What happens if the size of the pool changes?
Learn more: Ribbon Squares at the University of Cambridge
5. Read Spaghetti and Meatballs for All!
In Spaghetti and Meatballs for All! by Marilyn Burns, 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.
Buy it: Spaghetti and Meatballs for All! at Amazon
6. Draw a Perimeter Person
Have students draw themselves on graph paper, then figure out the area and perimeter. So cute!
Learn more: Perimeter Person Drawing at A Word From Third
7. Use sticky notes
When students are learning about area and perimeter, use sticky notes to cover large shapes and calculate how many sticky notes it takes to go around or fill an object. When students have more knowledge and skills, assign lengths to each color of sticky notes and challenge students to calculate the area and perimeter of shapes made with each color.
Learn more: Hands-On Manipulatives To Teach Area and Perimeter at Jillian Starr Teaching
8. 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.
Learn more: Math Mosaics at I Want To Be a Super Teacher
9. Explore area and perimeter with LEGO bricks
LEGO bricks are the perfect teaching tool for area and perimeter. Plus, children love them!
Learn more: LEGO activity at Grade School Giggles
10. Sing a catchy area and perimeter song
This cool little tune will help students remember when and how to use area and perimeter calculations.
11. Write block letter names
Students draw their own names on grid paper. They get to decide how large or small they go. Then, they calculate the area and perimeter. (Name too long? Use initials instead.)
Learn more: Block Letter Names at Upper Elementary Snapshots
12. Turn floor tiles into an area and perimeter activity
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 of your creations. Once students have solved for the shapes, have them create their own and calculate the area and perimeter of each other’s shapes.
Learn more: Differentiating With Area and Perimeter at Being Ladylike
13. 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. Have students trace a block on grid paper, then calculate the area and perimeter.
Learn more: Perimeter & Area of Irregular Shapes at Teaching With a Mountain View
14. Use area and perimeter to build a kite
Making a kite is a fun way to reinforce area and perimeter that ends with a great outdoor activity. Give students the materials, have them create a kite, and then measure its area and perimeter. When you fly them, you can talk about whether the area or perimeter had any impact on their flying.
Learn more: Building Kites at Math Engaged
15. Become an interior designer
Here’s an answer for when students ask, “but when will we 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.
Learn more: Teaching Area Using Applied Math at The Owl Teacher
16. Build a city
Another area and perimeter activity that is a real-life application: building a city. Incorporate volume into this activity where students work together to create a city and calculate just how much area and perimeter each building takes up.
Learn more: Area and Perimeter City at Teach Beside Me
17. Play Island Conquer
Another fun area and perimeter game, in Island Conquer, students pull points to plot rectangles or “islands” on a grid and calculate the area and perimeter. The person with the most island area at the end of the game wins.
Learn more: Island Conquer game at Laura Candler’s Teaching Resources
18. Make a π plate
Once students have mastered area and perimeter with polygons, it’s time to study circles. Introduce students to circles and pi with “pie” plates.
Learn more: Pi Plate Activity at The Reading Buddies
19. Area and perimeter pizza party
After teaching the concept of area and perimeter of a circle, have students figure out which is the better deal, two small pizzas or one large pizza. It’s all about the area!
20. Provide an easy reminder
Have students glue this printable card into their math notebooks for an easy reference.
Learn more: Area and perimeter note card at Math Coach’s Corner
21. Build a tiny house
Use card stock and give students parameters for how big the walls and roof are. Then, students create a tiny house using the specifications you give them.
Learn more: Build a tiny house printout at Witry Library Pages
Buy it: Digital Divide and Conquer at Teachers Pay Teachers
22. Create area and perimeter art
This is a great way to bring math into art class, or art into math. Have students create polygons with different perimeters to create designs. Then, measure the area inside each.
Learn more: Area and Perimeter at The Teacher Studio
23. Plan a garden plot
In this project, students map gardens using different area plots. It’s another way to apply area and perimeter to a real-life scenario. If you have space in your playground, use this project to map out a real garden plot.
Learn more: Garden area and perimeter activity at 3 Dinosaurs
24. Use a pegboard
Pegboard activities show students what perimeter and area look like and how they are different. They can make shapes and report how many pegs it takes to go around an object and how many pegs it takes to fill it in.
Learn more: Using pegboards in the classroom at Nurturing the Tender Years
Buy it: Pegboard at Amazon
25. Create a playground
Students apply area and perimeter (and surface area if you’ve taught it) to create their dream playground.
Learn more: Playground Project at Mrs. E Teaches Math
26. Explore area and perimeter with geoboards
Geoboard activities are a great way for students to see how area and perimeter change as shapes change.
Learn more: Perimeter and Area Geoboard Exploration at Life Over C’s
Buy it: Geoboards at Amazon
27. Calculate area you can eat
Use square crackers to cover shapes and calculate the perimeter and area of each. It’s a fun way to reinforce the idea of area and perimeter as students grasp the concept.
Learn more: Using Cheez-Its To Teach Kids Area and Perimeter at Mashup Math
28. Use tangrams
Tangrams are another exploratory activity that students can use to explore area and perimeter or complete more complex area problems.