Composite Figures Are Fun!

Composite figures are a wonderful opportunity to have fun with art in math and cover Common Core standards at the same time. To find the area of composite figures, students must “decompose” them into simple geometric shapes, find the area of each of those, and combine them to find the total area.

The problem is that some children lack the perspective to visualize these other shapes. The best way to help them, in my experience, is through art projects and activities.

Tangrams

A tangram is a set of seven geometric shapes (called “tans”) which fit together to form different shapes. Given an outline, students must arrange the tans so that they will fit the puzzle.

Tangrams and puzzles can be printed out free at several online sites, including Activity Village.

Working with the puzzles helps children develop the perspective they need to decompose composite figures, and children really enjoy “playing” with them.

After they have some experience with traditional tangram puzzles, I have students use the tans to create their own animals for our Tangram Zoo, figuring the area of each animal.   Mountain Village

Teacher Led Center

Materials: rulers, construction paper, scissors, pencils

Instructions for students:

1. On a piece of construction paper, draw a square having an area of 9 sq. in.  – Lead students to an understanding that sides must be 3 inches long in order for the area to be 9 sq. in.

2. Adjacent to one side, construct a triangle with a height of 2 inches. – My children inevitably tried to use the length of one of the sides of the triangle as its height. Since this was in my center, I was able to clarify this.

3.  Find the area of the triangle. – The base is 3 inches so B X H = 6. Because it is a triangle, this must be divided by 2 making the area 3 sq. in.

4.  Find the total area of the house. (12 sq. in.)

5.  Cut out your house, turn it over, and exchange with someone else.

6.  Decompose the house into a square and a triangle.

7.  Write the area in the center of each figure. – As they completed this step, I had them explain to me how they arrived at their answers.   LET THE FORCE BE WITH YOU

More Math Pages

Math Teaching Strategies: The Language of Math
One of the best math teaching strategies is teaching math concepts through the use of math word walls which build vocabulary.

Math Terminology
Use of correct math terminology is critical to teaching math vocabulary. Placing math terms on a math word wall and using them daily makes ongoing review easy and fun.

Why Have a Math Word Wall?
Why have a math word wall? More than any other subject, math builds on what is already known. The brain operates that way, too - attaching new information to the old. So how can a math word wall help?

Teaching Kids Math Through Sight and Sound
Teaching kids math through sight and sound is particularly useful in teaching math vocabulary. When used along with a math word wall, involving the senses can improve memory and recall.

Integer Rules and How to Teach Them
Integer rules don't have to be confusing. When kids need help with integers, and you need help teaching integers, these techniques may be just what you need.

Teaching Math With Art
The connection between math and art is often overlooked in articles about teaching math, but using art in math significantly improves retention of key concepts and vocabulary.

Geometry
Geometry terms in middle school geometry and elementary geometry are easy to remember when geometry lesson plans include art projects.

Teaching Graphs and Charts
Teaching graphs and charts can be fun in math if graphs such as stem and leaf plots display data that is important to kids.

Coordinate System
Use free Facebook printable and other strategies to make learning the Cartesian coordinate system fun and creative.

Math Centers
Math centers are one of the best math teaching strategies around. With interesting math center activities, learning and teaching elementary and middle school math is fun!

Math Center Activities
Interesting math center activities keep students engaged and learning. Elementary and middle school math centers may include math labs in addition to games and other fun learning activities.