Utilization Strategies

Lesson Plans

Meet the Teachers






by Dawn Klinge
University of Idaho


GRADES 4 - 5


The students will explore the area of rectangles by viewing a video about a son whoseDad offers to pay him 1 penny per square unit to mow an irregularly shaped lawn. The two must find the area of the lawn to find how much the Dad will pay the son. Students will practice finding area by playing an online computer activity where they must calculate the area of the rectangle to solve a puzzle. Science will be integrated by the students carrying out an experiment that involves predication, estimation, and classification of insects within a square foot of soil.


Students will be able to:

  • Find out how many square units cover a figure

  • Relate square units to measuring area

  • Develop the formula for area of a rectangle

  • Apply the formula for area of a rectangle to find area of irregular shaped figures by finding rectangles within the figure and adding the areas together for total area

  • Use prediction, estimation, and classification within a scientific experiment.

  • Apply measurement skills to plot a square foot of land.


Each group of students will need:

  • Ruler
  • Poster Board
  • Scissors
  • Sidewalk chalk
  • One inch grid paper
  • Color tiles
  • Computer with internet access
  • Plastic spoon
  • Sorting dish
  • Magnifying glass
  • Large plastic tweezers
  • Pair of latex gloves (optional)


  • Area
  • Square Units
  • Formula
  • Predication
  • Estimation
  • Classify


Using grid sheet and square tiles ask, "How many square tiles do you think it will take to cover the grid?"

Have students estimate first then cover the grid with tiles.

How many tiles did you use?" 24 tiles

Did each group use the same number of tiles? Yes, all groups should use 24 tiles.

The number of square units needed to cover a figure is called its area.

"How can you use multiplication to find the number of tiles in a rectangle?"

"What are you measuring when you measure the area of a figure?"

Describe how to find the area of an array with 6 rows of 8 square inch tiles. (Multiply 6x8; 48 square inches)

Instruct whole class on how to play Funbrain Shape Excavator with directions given on web site. http://www.funbrain.com/poly/index.html

Have students move to computers with Funbrain Shape Excavator on screen and begin game.

Assess understanding of area by observing student progress on the game.



The focus of viewing is to give students a specific responsibility while viewing to integrate what they already know about finding the area of a rectangle with discovering how one might measure an irregular shaped area like a lawn.


BEGIN the video Math Talk: Daddy Knows Different and PAUSE after Buddy shows a map of the lawn. Ask the students to use what they know about finding the area of a rectangle to predict how Buddy might determine the area of the lawn.

Ask students to use their prediction to determine how much they think Buddy's Dad will need to pay him. RESUME the tape and continue it to until the end of Buddy's solution to the problem is explained.

PAUSE the tape on the map of the yard and ask students if they have any other ways to divide the yard into rectangles. Ask "will you still get the same answer if you divide the yard up a different way?" RESUME video and continue it to the end of segment.


Have each group of students measure a 1 square-foot sheet of poster-board using a ruler.

Students cut out the square foot with scissors to use as their unit of measurement.

If possible use a large area of blacktop or concrete that has been outlined in chalk into an irregular shaped figure that can be divided by square units.

Ask the class to estimate how many square feet they believe are needed to cover the area.

Students discuss how to test their estimates by working together as a class using their poster-board units and chalk

Have students carry out their plan to determine the area of the outline.

Discuss how using the 1 square-foot sheets of poster board is another way of dividing up a figure to make it easier to determine the area of an irregular shaped figure.

Ask students what they think their results would be in different locations/environments.




Students who do not want to handle insects may wish to wear latex gloves during this experiment. Remind students to handle insects gently, harming the insects will not be tolerated!

Have students predict how many insects are in a square foot of soil. Have each group of students use their 1 square-foot unit to measure a square foot in an area of dirt outdoors by using a tool such as a spoon to trace around the paper in order to mark off a square foot of dirt.

Ask students to assign roles within their groups such as counter/recorder, excavator, and sorter.

Have excavator use large plastic tweezers to place insects found within the square foot of dirt into sorting dish. The counter/recorder and the sorter can then use the magnifying glass to inspect the insects and classify them into two groups based on group selected characteristics such as insects with four legs/insects with more than four legs, etc… ·

Ask students to compare predictions with results and share their different methods of classifying insects. · Ask students what they think their results would be in different locations/environments.

Funbrain Shape Excavator

Students may also enjoy sketching what they find and researching unknown insects on the Internet.

For additional lesson plans and ideas relating to this topic and many others try TeacherSource at PBS Online! You will find activities, lesson plans, teacher guides and links to other great educational web sites! Search the database by keyword, grade level or subject area! Mathline and Scienceline are also great resources for teachers seeking teaching tips, lesson plans, assessment methods, professional development, and much more!

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