Monday, May 5, 2014

The One With Polygons (Made It Monday)

Geometry has never been my favorite thing as a student or as a teacher, but I must say I have really enjoyed helping my students study polygons for the past week.  I dare say that this little series of activities has been my favorite of the year.  

We started the unit with discussion about what we knew about polygons.  We talked about the different types of polygons and their characteristics.  Students worked in small groups to create posters and we did a lot of comparing and contrasting of polygons especially quadrilaterals.  

Students were then asked to complete this dissecting shapes task on their own.  

I'm not going to lie this was a challenging tasks.  A few students got frustrated with me because I would not help that at all.  I knew that it was important for them to discover the answers on their own.

The task ask them to cut a parallelogram into pieces and rearrange them to form a rectangle.  Then it has them describe how they did that in several different ways - in pictures and in words.  

They were then given a second parallelogram and asked if their strategy would still work for it.

The most challenging part of this task was when they were asked to turn a rectangle into one right triangle.  They all wanted to cut the rectangle in half diagonally and make two right triangles.  They become very frustrated when I reminded them it wanted them to make one triangle not two.  

Those students who persevered eventually figured it out and they were incredibly proud of themselves.

We also spent a day working through three stations.  One of the stations asked students to create different polygons using tangrams.

Next came time to discuss how to find the area of different polygons.  I have done a few foldables with my students this year but not nearly as many as I would have liked.  Because I want to do interactive notebooks next year I'm trying to start thinking with that mindset now.

I made my foldable with paper and pencil and then decided that I wanted to type it up and put it together so that students only had to work examples in them.  I didn't want to waste precious class time showing them how to put together a foldable.  This also ensured me that the polygons were accurately represented.

I couldn't figure out how to correctly size everything so that it came together when I printed it out.  I was going crazy!  Thankfully my computer genius of a husband came to my rescue and helped me out.

I printed them out on neon paper and assembled them.  I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly I was able to get this done.  It was well worth the time I spent not to have to have students assemble them in class.

My students oohed and awwed over these when I passed them out in class.  It melted my teacher's heart because I was so stinkin' excited over these.  I was glad to see that they were equally as excited. 

We would discuss how to find the area of a square, work a few examples on the board as a class and then they would do the two examples in the foldable.  We repeated this process until could find the area of all six polygons.  We split them up and did three on the first day and the other three the following day.  

Because of the dissecting shapes and tangram activities students were able to come up with the formula for each polygon on their own.  I was incredibly proud of them.  While we were discussing how to find the area there were a lot of "OH.  So this is why we did that activity."  

In that moment they understood why I would not help them.  

Score one for the teacher.

Today they had some independent practice with our Match Up: Area of Polygons.  They were given three problems for each type of polygon and asked to calculate the area.  To liven things up a bit, they were asked to cut out their answer and glue it in the appropriate space.

The foldable and the Match Up activity can be found in my TPT store.

And the best part?  My ENTIRE store is on sale starting tomorrow.


  1. That booklet makes my teacher heart happy, too! The bright colors and cute fonts.. a teacher's dream! But then I saw all the formulas and was like oh.. oh my! I'll stick to my 3rd grade math where we do area of a rectangle and that's all! I'm sure your students learned a lot because you made it engaging and interactive. All the best!

    The 4th Grade Journey

  2. I'm with Mandy....third grade math is where I stop! These look like excellent resources for your students!
    Short and Sassy Teacher