Spatializing Area (Part 1 of 3)

Early Years/Primary
Age 3-9


Kindergarten: Demonstrating Literacy and Mathematics Behaviour ​

  • Measure, using non-standard units of the same size, and compare objects, materials, and spaces in terms of their length, mass, capacity, area, and temperature, and explore ways of measuring the passage of time, through inquiry and play-based learning (#19).​

Primary: Measurement​

  • Estimate, measure, and record length, perimeter, area, mass, capacity, time, and temperature, using standard units.​


  • Students are sitting in a circle on the carpet.


  • Pre-made shapes (Appendix A – download)​
  • 2” x 2” square tiles – enough for each student to have at least 12

Lesson: Part 1 of 3

  • Present students with two different sized rectangular shapes (see Appendix A – download). ​
  • Ask students: Looking carefully at these two shapes, which one do you think takes up more space? Which shape has more of the shaded area?
  • Students should see that the two shapes are different in size and area. ​
  • Prompt students to use comparative language: How do you know that shape takes up more space? What shape is longer?
  • Introduce a single square unit and hold up one of the blue square units for all students to see. ​
  • Tell students: Just to be sure that these two shapes really do have a different area, we’re going to measure and compare them. Now, just using your eyes and your imagination, how many of these squares will it take to completely cover the shaded area of this shape?
  • Start with the smaller of the two rectangles and place a square in the top left corner.​
  • Tell students: Once you think you know how many it might take, just keep it a secret and put your hands behind your back. Now, keeping your hands behind your back, use your fingers to show how many squares will be needed to cover the entire shape. Ok, everyone, please show me what number you’ve made with your fingers.
  • Once students have their estimates, have a few students share with the group. ​
  • Next (or if need be), take two other blue tiles and line them up beside the single blue square to complete the row. ​
  • Tell students: Now that we have a row of 3 squares all lined up beside each other, does this help us figure out how many it will take to cover the whole space? Get ready to show me your fingers. Ok, let’s see!
  • Complete the next row and ask students to confirm their response.​
  • Complete the same process for the square template. ​
  • Ask students: How many squares did it take to cover up the rectangle? And how many squares did it take to cover up this bigger square?
  • Ask students: So what shape has the larger area? What shape has the smaller area?

Look Fors

  • Can the students accurately predict which shape takes up more space?​
  • Can students explain and justify their predictions?​
  • Can students accurately predict how many squares will fill the larger shapes?​


  • See Part 2 and Part 3 of Spatializing Area. 
  • Click here to download all three parts of the Spatializing Area lesson. 

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