Why do this problem?
Working on this problem will give students a deeper understanding
of area and perimeter, and how they change as a shape is altered.
The problem will address some students' misconception that as area
increases, perimeter must necessarily increase too.
Display a simple shape made out of squares on a small square
"On your squared paper, shade in squares to make a different
shape with the same area as mine."
"My shape has a perimeter of 14. Does anyone else have a shape
with a perimeter of 14?"
Collect any examples and display them.
"Does anyone have a shape with a perimeter less than
Again, display any examples.
"Does anyone have a shape with a perimeter greater than
Once more, display any examples.
If there are no examples for any of the categories, challenge
them to find suitable shapes.
"Area and perimeter are two attributes of these shapes. On this picture
robots have been arranged according to two of their attributes. Can
you work out how they have been arranged?"
Draw out the key ideas:
As you go from left to right, the width of the
As you go from top to bottom, the height of the robots
All the robots in the middle column have the same width.
All the robots on the middle row have the same
Now display this
to summarise what they have (hopefully) noticed
and to introduce the type of grid the students will be using for
the rest of the problem.
"We could arrange shapes in a 3 by 3 grid in the same way,
sorting them by their area and perimeter instead of the height and
Give each pair of students the cards
for the first
part of the problem, display the grid on the board and ensure that
students understand what they have to do:
As each pair finishes, they can be given the second set of cards
to work on in the same way. For those who finish quickly, ask them
the question from the problem about extending the grid like
Towards the end of the lesson, bring the class together to share
any efficient ways they found to compare areas and perimeters
without having to work them all out.
In sharing feedback on the first activity, ask students what they
notice about the shapes on the top row of the grid.
To explain why all shapes drawn by cutting corners out of a 4 by 4
square have a perimeter of 16, these images might be useful:
"How much perimeter has been lost by cutting out the pink
rectangle? How much has been gained?"
Shapes on the second and third row can be compared in the same
For the second activity, we want students to recognise:
"Rectangles that are closer to squares have smaller perimeters than
long thin rectangles with the same area"
One prompt that could draw out this thinking might be:
"If two rectangles have the same area but different perimeters, how
can I decide which has the greater perimeter?"
Finally, discuss the possible content of the four extra spaces in
the extended grid, focussing in particular on why some of the
spaces are impossible to fill in.
Finally, students could be challenged to create their own set
of cards with a $1$ by $5$ rectangle as the central card. This
forces them to consider rectangles whose side lengths are not whole
provides a good starting point for the thinking
expected of students in this problem.