Perimeter and Area Made Easy with STEM

Have you ever hung wallpaper? If you have then you know a very simple truth. You have to understand the measurement of the area to get the right amount of paper for your walls! To make it even more complicated you have to deal with matching the wallpaper patterns so it usually requires figuring for extra lengths. It's a nightmare.

I have hung a lot of wallpaper and my favorite part is not the measuring. I love creating the corners and wraparound parts. It's great problem-solving! Speaking of problem-solving, have you ever hung plaid wallpaper? Let's not even talk about that, okay!

Let's talk about kids and measurement! Especially perimeter and area!
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Perimeter = Per-RIM-eter

This is the way I always talked about perimeter with kids. I stressed the RIM part of the word and let them know (repeatedly) that this means the rim, the outside edge of something. Like a fence.

You know that hands-on experiences are the best teachers with our students so here's a STEM challenge we have completed a few times that really worked on the perimeter.
STEM Challenge- students use grid paper to practice creating rectangles with a static perimeter and then they design tiny dog runs!
In the first part of the challenge students practice finding the perimeter of several shapes. I use my projector to make the shapes on the board and we learn to mark each line of the grid paper to count accurately.

Then the kids have to find all of the ways to create a shape using a given perimeter. They work together to draw rectangles and label them with the perimeters.

Then we find the area of each and with your smallest engineers, you might have to actually let them count those grid paper boxes. They will eventually see that these arrays work by using times facts!

The Design Challenge 

This is the really fun part! Students use their data- the arrays they have drawn- and pick the shape that will make the best dog run. They make that choice and then write reasons why it is the best.

Then, they build a tiny version of it! Check the photos of our tiny dog run models!
STEM Challenge- students use grid paper to practice creating rectangles with a static perimeter and then they design tiny dog runs!
Above, the team made a dog food bowl out of pipe cleaners with pipe cleaner food. That is also a real rock sitting by their tree. The grass is shredded paper. The actual dog run is made from one of the grids they drew!
STEM Challenge- students use grid paper to practice creating rectangles with a static perimeter and then they design tiny dog runs!
Above, you can see real rocks and sticks. The doghouse is made from craft foam and the small disc is either a dish or a frisbee.
STEM Challenge- students use grid paper to practice creating rectangles with a static perimeter and then they design tiny dog runs!
Above, this team made a palm tree- even though we don't have those near us! I guess it could be a banana tree and we can grow those! They have a grid paper house and grid paper dog bowl. The string is a toy rope for the dog.

So, what about using area to design?

In another challenge, students must find at least 10 polygons that all have the same perimeter, but the area of each will be different.
STEM Challenge- students use grid paper to practice creating rectangles with a static perimeter and then they design dog house floor plans.
After finding 10 polygons, they must join together three of them to design the floor plan of a doghouse. The arrangement of the polygons has to follow some specific design rules which include where they can touch and what the final area can be.

It's a fabulous set of STEM challenges all about perimeter and area, but here is the best part!

We tackle these two challenges after reading a picture book!

This is the story of Lisa who is given a homework assignment to go home and measure something. She decides to measure her dog, Penny. She does this in such creative and unusual ways it makes the kids laugh. It sparks a discussion of what it takes to care for a pet- which leads to creating the dog run and the floor plan for the doghouse.

Total fun! It works on two important math skills. And, I added two homework tasks to these two products that will allow even more extensions of the skills! Perfect - and so much easier than hanging wallpaper!

2 comments

  1. LOVE LOVE LOVE it! Thanks for such great ideas for area and perimeter!!

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    Replies
    1. My pleasure! Thanks for visiting! Let me know if there is anything Ic an help you with!

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