Perimeter (elementary)

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Students will learn about perimeter and the units used to measure perimeter using a variety of materials including their hands, feet, rulers, and computer applets.


Upon completion of this lesson, students will:

  • have practiced finding perimeter of rectangular shapes and irregular shapes with right angles.
  • understand which units of measure are appropriate for measuring perimeter.

Standards Addressed:

Student Prerequisites

  • Technological: Students must be able to:
    • perform basic mouse manipulations such as point, click and drag
    • use a browser for experimenting with the activities

Teacher Preparation

  • access to a browser
  • construction paper and pencil
  • rulers and graph paper

Lesson Outline

  1. Focus and Review

    Begin the lesson by asking the students if anyone has a fenced yard and ask them to think about how you might figure out how much fencing was required.

  2. Objectives

    Let student know what they will be doing and learning today. Say something like this:

    • Today we are going to be learning about the concept of perimeter and how to calculate perimeter.
    • We are going to use the computers to learn about perimeter, but please do not turn your computers on or go to this page until I ask you to.
  3. Teacher Input

    • Have the class measure the perimeter of their desk top using their hands as the unit of measure.
    • Discuss the different answers the students calculated.
    • Discuss why the answers differed.
    • Introduce the term perimeter.

  4. Guided Practice

    • Have the students work in pairs and measure the perimeter of 4 or 5 different objects around the room using different units: hands, feet, pencils, in, ft, etc.
    • Monitor the students' progress.
    • Have a couple of students share their examples.
    • Discuss why it might be necessary to have a standard unit like: inches, feet, or meters.
    • Discuss why someone might need to know the perimeter of something. (Example: fencing a yard)
    • Demonstrate how to use the Perimeter Explorer. (You may want to specify certain area settings.) Have the students answer a couple of computer generated problems with you.
    • Demonstrate how to draw the figure generated by the computer on a piece of graph paper.

  5. Independent Practice

    • Have the students work either alone or in groups of two with the Perimeter Explorer.
    • So you can check their progress, have the students copy the computer generated figures on a piece of graph paper.

  6. Closure

    • Draw a grid on the board and draw a few shapes in the grid.
    • Call on several different students to help you determine the perimeter of each shape.
    • Review the meaning of the word perimeter.
    • Review the different units used to measure perimeter.

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