Thursday, March 22, 2012

Hands On Geometry - Part II

Guest Blog Post by Stephanie Moorman of Teaching in Room 6

Last week I shared Hands-on Geometry, Part I, and I'm back with Part II! The Hands-on Geometry Freebie shown on the right includes templates that go with both lessons.

Area and Perimeter
I love going outside for these standards.  Heading out with our rulers and paper in hand, the kids measure various signs and playground objects.  I usually have the students find both the area and the perimeter of the objects (depending upon what time of year I have them do this activity). This is really fun, since the kids often have to work together to measure the objects (since the lines on the playground are often larger than the 12 inches a ruler provides)  They are getting practice in converting inches to feet, measuring large objects, AND finding the perimeter and/or area of those objects.  So much math, all on the playground!

Surface Area
I like to have the students discover this concept for themselves.  I give them a tissue box, paper, and scissors, with instructions to cover the box with no overlap.  Then they have to tell me how much paper they need.  This takes some time, but they actually all do figure out that they need to create a net, measure each side, find the area of each side, and add it all together.

Back to the food again!  Using the marshmallows (they are cheap and easy because of their shape), the students need to create cubes and rectangular prisms of set sizes.  If I have them create a 36 marshmallow cube, they can see that the entire thing gets filled it.  It is 36 cubic units.  We then count the marshmallows on the length, the width, and the height.  Multiply them together, and you get 36 cubic units!

The circumference of a circle is about 3 times the diameter.  To show the students this, I take them outside to one of the painted circles on the playground.  We all sit around it and I have the students walk the diameter of the circle.   When we all have a basic idea of what the diameter is, the kids then walk the actual circle.  To their amazement, it really does take them 3x as long to walk around the outside of the circle!

There really are so many different ways to help the students learn the different concepts found within the Geometry and Measurement strands.  With a little creativity, it is easy to make these vital standards come to life for the students!  How have you made these standards more hands-on?  Please comment below.  I would love to hear about it!

Stephanie Moorman is a 5th grade teacher who has been teaching elementary school for 14 years. She has her Masters in Education and is Nationally Board Certified. She is the creator of the Teaching in Room 6 blog where she enjoys sharing her strategies with others. 


  1. Your blog is very informative and I want to share My views about Rectangular prism in a concise manner that A rectangular prism is a solid object which is 3-D and has six faces that are same as rectangles and Its a prism because it has the same cross-section along a length.
    What is a Rectangular Prism

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  3. Great ideas! I love getting those kids outside for learning!