Activity #1: Tables configurations
Our third and final week at numeracy camp focused on area and perimeter, which we introduced using the picture book Spaghetti and Meatballs for All! A Mathematical Story by Marilyn Burns. It is an engaging story that describes a family reunion, where the arrangement of the tables and chairs is constantly changing as more and more people arrive. The story cleverly delves into the concepts of area and perimeter in an everyday situation such as a family meal.
We read the book aloud to our Mathletes, discussing the differences in seating plans as we followed the storyline. We then used the SMART board to explore the area and perimeter of the different configurations of tables and chairs. For each “seating plan,” we documented the strategies used to find the area and perimeter. After investigating multiple options, the students were able to see the logic in Mrs.Comfort’s original seating plan in the story. This hands-on activity was interesting for the whole group, and our Mathletes particularly enjoyed discussing their favourite meal for family get-togethers!
You can find a lesson plan based on this book by Cheryl Rectanus for grades 5/6 here (Math Solutions Professional Development Newsletter). It describes the lesson that Cheryl carried out after reading Spaghetti and Meatballs for All! aloud to the class, and gives some great ideas for prompts and questions that could be asked to deepen the students’ learning.
Activity #2: Area and perimeter art
As an extension to our discussion of area and perimeter, we tasked our Mathletes with creating a piece of artwork out of squares and rectangles on grid paper. We guided them in thinking about the following questions:
- What is the area of the spaces you used?
- What is the perimeter of your creation?
- Which strategy did you use to calculate area and perimeter?
The final products were colourful and creative (see below), and they prompted some great math talk among learners about area and perimeter!
Burns, M., & Tilley, D. (2008). Spaghetti and Meatballs for All! New York, NY: Scholastic Paperbacks.