EL Support Lesson

Area with Multiplying and Adding

Start a dialogue around area models! In this lesson, encourage students to ask questions as they multiply using area models. Use this lesson on its own or as support to the lesson Area Models and Multiplication.
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Area Models and Multiplication lesson plan.
Grade Subject View aligned standards

No standards associated with this content.

No standards associated with this content.

Which set of standards are you looking for?

This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Area Models and Multiplication lesson plan.

Students will be able to create area models and decompose the factor on one side of a rectangle.


Students will be able to ask questions about multiplying with area models using graph paper and color-coding.

(3 minutes)
  • Display a photo of a corn maze. Explain the concept of the corn maze and provide a realistic scenario that would involve area. For example, say, "The owners of the corn maze have one location for the maze, but they would like to break it up into two mazes: one for kids and one for adults." Ask students to think about the mathematical process the scenario relates to.
  • Allow volunteers to share aloud and direct them to understand that the visual represents many different ideas (e.g., length, area, distance, angles, etc.) but today they'll focus on area—and more specifically on decomposing areas.
  • Read the student-friendly language objective (e.g., "I can ask questions about multiplying with area models using graph paper and color coding.") and define the keywords in the objective (e.g., area model, multiplying, graph paper). First ask for student input and then give the definition and have students repeat it.
(6 minutes)
  • Model how to draw a rectangle on graph paper and portion it off so that it is a large rectangle that is 30-by-20. Make sure students are in agreement with the length and width measurement, and then cut off a piece of the rectangle so there are two rectangles, one that's 10-by-9 and the other that is 20-by-11.
  • Tape the 10-by-9 rectangle on the board and label the sides and color in the boxes with a marker. Cut the 20-by-11 rectangle so that it becomes two separate rectangles where one measures 15-by-5 and the other measures 5-by-6 and have different colors. Tape both of those rectangles on the board and label the sides.
  • Calculate the area of each of the rectangles using the area equation and counting the squares of one for reinforcement. Solicit help from students and make sure to use key vocabulary as you think aloud the process to find the areas of all three of the rectangles.
  • "Reattach" each rectangle one at a time so that it becomes a 30-by-20 rectangle with different colored areas. Retape them on the board together and label the colored lengths and width. Recalculate the area of the rectangle and show that it would be the same if they added up the individual areas of the rectangles. Write the equation that represents the joined together rectangles (i.e., (10 + 15 + 5) x (9 + 5 + 6) = 600).
(8 minutes)
  • Choose students one by one to recall the steps you made to decompose the rectangle and add the areas again. Allow students to assist their peers and offer suggested answers that the presenter will repeat after you accept the suggestion as correct.
  • Distribute one sheet of graph paper and copy paper to partnerships and ask students to cut out a rectangle that would be large enough for them to decompose twice. Then, have them write down "Rectangle #1" and, next to it, write the area equation that corresponds to the rectangle (e.g., 34 x 10 = 340). Have students follow that same process for the second and third rectangles they'll create in partnerships, but have students label them "Rectangle A," "Rectangle B," and "Rectangle C."
  • Model asking questions about the rectangles as you're decomposing them. For example, "Why do you think that the area, when added together, equals the original rectangle?" or "Would the area be the same if I cut the rectangle vertically rather than horizontally?"
(15 minutes)
  • Tell students they'll now practice composing partitioned rectangles in an information gap card game that requires them to find their group members by matching three cards together. Explain to students they cannot show anyone their cards and they need to ask their potential partner questions to see if they are a match. For example, they can ask "What is the length and width of your rectangle?" or "Do you have a rectangle or the area on the card?"
  • Distribute the Info Gap Cards: Area as Additive (one card per student) and review the instructions. Have students find their partners by asking questions to match three cards together. Have them use the back of their copy paper as scratch paper for their calculations.
  • Remind students that the areas of two rectangles will add together to equal the area listed on the third card. Once they find their partners, have them create the appropriate equation when they merge the two rectangles together and input the lengths and widths into the area equation (e.g., (10 + 15 + 5) x (9 + 5 + 6) = 600).
  • Have students find their partners and explain how they know they got the right answer. Then, ask students to ask questions about their area cards and questions they still have about adding areas and multiplication. (For example, "I wonder if I can create irregular figures with the rectangles and the area will still be the same," or "Why do you think my rectangle has equal sides and my partner has unequal sides?")
  • Provide the following sentence frames to guide student questions or statements, and ask students to provide more sentence frames if they can:
    • "I was wondering why ____?"
    • "How come ____?"
    • "Why do you think ____?"
  • Ask students to share some of their ponderings and see if students can answer some of the questions.


  • Allow students to use their home language (L1) or their new language (L2) in all discussions. Provide reference materials in their L1 to assist in their vocabulary word acquisition.
  • Encourage them to use the vocabulary cards and terms in their conversations and writing. Allow them to draw pictures to support their understanding of the terms.
  • Pre-cut decomposed rectangles for students to manipulate and practice adding the areas and writing the corresponding equations.
  • Pair students with a partner for the Info Gap Cards: Area as Additive game and have them alternate with their partner as they answer questions about their shared card.


  • Pair students with mixed ability groups so they can offer explanations and provide feedback to beginning ELs when appropriate.
  • Challenge them to discuss how area is added onto a rectangle to create an irregular shape. Have them use their graph paper to model the process and explain their ideas.
  • Give advanced students the rectangles with the harder computations from the Info Gap Cards: Area as Additive game (e.g., Group 6 has the largest area to multiply).
(5 minutes)
  • Distribute an index card and ask students to write down one thing they learned from the lesson and something they still wonder about the topic. Provide the following sentence frames:
    • "I learned ____."
    • "Before I thought ____, now I think ____."
    • "I was wondering why ____?"
  • Use some of their questions to guide further lessons on area and its relationship to multiplication and division.
(3 minutes)
  • Allow one student to share their assessment index card and allow the other students to answer the presenter's question.
  • Ask students to consider real-world scenarios, similar to the corn maze, where people may decompose or compose areas (e.g., designing anything involving area, partitioning rooms, opening up partitioned rooms, etc.). Allow volunteers to share answers aloud and relate their math from the lesson to the question.

Add to collection

Create new collection

Create new collection

New Collection


New Collection>

0 items