Third graders are hard at work deepening their understanding of area and perimeter. Earlier in the year, time was spent learning what area is and how to find the area of a rectangle. Now, we are taking it a step further and finding the area and perimeter of polygons (any closed shape with three or more straight sides).
After spending a couple of days practicing, students were given a project that required them to use area and perimeter in a real world situation. Students were told that the city of Woodridge is building a zoo and needed their help with designing it. Their job was to choose three different types of animals that allowed them to stay within their budget of $10,000. They then had to create a habitat for each of the animals in the zoo. Students were told the square footage each animal needed and they chose how to design it on their zoo blueprint. After drawing each habitat, they found the perimeter of the habitat in order to let the builders know how much fencing would be needed.
This project was great for introducing the concept that two rectangles can be added together to create a larger area. For example, if 125 square footage was needed, students drew a rectangle of 100 square feet and attached another rectangle of 25 square feet. It showed them that when they are finding the area of an odd-shaped polygon, it can be divided into multiple rectangles with the area of each being added together.
The students loved this project, and I loved seeing them think like actual designers. They thought of what would make sense for the layout of their zoo and what would make their visitors happy. They also applied what they knew about the animals in their zoo to decide what was needed in each animal habitat.