Calculate Area with Shapes


Base ten units, 10 rod, and 2 by 2 layered with a mock robot build. A legend gives measurement of the unit being 1 cm.
Whenever I took out manipulatives to use while teaching math, students undoubtedly used them as a creative outlet and building tool. Why not ask learners to build first, then ask some powerful wonder and notice questions afterwards? 

Really thinking about how learning through play never grows old. 



Instructions to create using the shapes provided, reminding that shapes can be broken apart or grouped together.

 Ask students to build a robot with the shapes allowed to them- it can be as simple or complex as they would like. 



Left side has base ten pieces (unit, 10 rod, 2 by 2 square) and a legend sharing the unit piece to measure 1cm on one side.

Scaffold building a landscape, a personal logo, and a 'free choice' creation. 


Workspace of base ten units, 10 rods, and 2 by 2 piece with space for a logo or a landscape build.

Once the build and creations are complete, use the Robot build to ask questions about how many centimetres it would take to walk around your Robot. How do you know? Can you support your answer? Discuss with the students the variance in perimeter and why they have differences. Ask for some predictions about the calculation of Area. 


  • Group/Break apart- you can group and break apart shapes you’re using to move creations around easily and duplicate shapes

There are so many ways to tweak this lesson to make it cross-curricular. Your build can also support any themes or subjects you are studying in other areas. As a challenge, limit the target area or perimeter desired. As a class, build a community with specific parameters included. Have your learners decide what they would like to collaborate on creating as a community of creators.  

 Learn how, and explore more Everyone Can Create Projects >


An image of an illustrated student with an iPad showing their work to their teacher.


All Replies

Posted on August 13, 2023

Really love the focus on the inquiry process here -- what a fun and playful way to get students thinking critically about math concepts!

Posted on August 13, 2023

TamiB, Thank you for sharing. What fun use of grouping/ungrouping shapes. I wonder, would using screenshots of buildings from Maps and then overlaying shapes on the screenshot add any additional value?

Posted on December 02, 2023

Great idea. And it could also be done in Numbers to be able to add a table to calculate in the same file and leave traces of their learning.

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