After introducing the concept of area yesterday by having students use patterns blocks to cover the surface of the smallest and largest book cover from books in their literacy bins, we discovered that squares tend to cover surfaces more efficiently than the other shapes.
Hence, when we worked on the practice question today, students began by using colour tiles to measure the area of a piece of paper.
Many of the students covered the full sheet of paper, but sure enough, some of them discovered "shortcuts". For example, one group decided to fold the paper in half, and measure only half the sheet's surface, then double their measurement results to get the area of the whole sheet. Several other groups discovered that you merely needed to line up one row of square tiles, and then figure out the number of tiles in the "vertical row" (as some of them called it), to see how many rows would be needed to cover the whole sheet. In this way, they were able to calculate the area of the sheet of paper without actually covering the whole thing.
It was exciting to see the lightbulbs go on for some students as the "short-cutters" explained their thinking during the debrief.
We'll further consolidate the learning about area with tomorrow's lesson, during which they'll explore shapes with the same area, but different perimeters, and calculate the area of a newpaper page that is taken up by advertisements vs. the area taken up by actual news articles.