Activities to Teach Students to Find the Areas of Complex Figures by Dividing Them Into Rectangles

As students progress in their math studies, they will begin to encounter more complex figures that require a bit more effort to find their area. One of the most effective methods for solving these problems involves dividing the figure up into smaller rectangles. Not only does this method provide a visual aid for students to understand how to approach the problem, but it also builds upon their knowledge of multiplying length and width.

Here are a few activities that math teachers can utilize to teach students how to find the areas of complex figures by dividing them into rectangles:

1. Breaking down real-world objects:

Have students bring in a few common household items, such as a book, a pencil holder, or a backpack. Ask them to identify any complex shapes of these objects and then challenge them to break down those shapes into smaller rectangles. This activity reinforces the idea that real-world objects are comprised of smaller, measurable parts and helps reinforce the concept of finding the area by multiplying length and width.

2. Group challenge:

Divide the class into groups and give them a complex figure to find the area of, such as an irregular hexagon or a triangle with an extended base. Challenge each group to come up with as many ways as possible to divide the shape into smaller rectangles to find its area, and the group with the most creative solutions wins.

3. Online tools:

Utilize online programs like Desmos or Geometer’s Sketchpad, which allow students to build and manipulate shapes. Teachers can use these programs to create complex figures for students to find the area of by dividing it into smaller rectangles.

4. Matching game:

Create a game where students are given a few complex figures, along with a set of smaller rectangles. They must match the smaller rectangle with the portion of the complex figure where it belongs, and then calculate the area of each rectangle and add them together to find the total area of the complex figure.

5. Scavenger hunt:

Create a scavenger hunt where students are given a sheet with a few complex figures to find in the classroom or school. When they find each shape, they must sketch it in their notebook and then divide it into smaller rectangles to find its area.

Teaching students to find the areas of complex figures by dividing them into smaller rectangles is not only an effective method, but it can also be an engaging activity for students. These activities help reinforce critical thinking skills, which will be beneficial for students in later math courses. By utilizing real-world objects, online tools, and classroom games, teachers can provide their students with a hands-on approach to learning that allows them to succeed and understand the concept in a deeper way.

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