Lesson plan

Area: Whole, Parts, and Shapes

Use this lesson to help your students learn about partitioning shapes into parts with equal areas. Students will explain rectangular shape area in fractions of a whole.
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Students will be able to define area in terms of fractions of a whole.

(5 minutes)
  • Show an image of a circle divided into four equal parts. Ask your students what they see.
  • Take notes of student responses for the whole class to see. Circle terms that refer to a fraction (part, of) or the whole (the entire shape).
  • Ask your class probing questions to tease out answers that prompt fraction terms, if necessary.
(5 minutes)
  • Point out how shaded and unshaded parts of the circle are a fraction, or parts, of the whole. Write them in fraction number form. For example, each part is equal to 1/4.
(5 minutes)
  • Hand out and preview the Area: Parts of a Whole in Shapes worksheet directions.
  • Complete the first few exercises as a class and answer any clarifying questions.
(15 minutes)
  • Students will finish the remaining questions independently, in pairs or small groups.
  • Early finishers should cross-reference their work with one another.


  • To scaffold, label one or all internal shapes with fraction forms for each problem on the Area: Parts of a Whole in Shapes worksheet.


  • Have students generate new challenge problems with a tessellation (see suggested media).
(5 minutes)
  • Have a student retell an exercise from the Area: Parts of a Whole in Shapes activity, in their own words. Ask them to describe what steps they plan to take. Clarify misunderstandings with probing questions.
(10 minutes)
  • Draw connections to examples in this lesson. Make sure to re-evaluate the essential question, "Why must a square be a standard unit of measure?"
  • Ask students to turn and tell a neighbor one new thing they learned in the lesson.

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