March 3, 2017
by Byron Delcomb

Lesson plan

Volume and Rectangular Prisms

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Students will be able to model volume with base-ten cubes using the formulas V = l × w × h and V = b × h.

(5 minutes)
  • Show your class a handful of base-ten cubes and ask, "What kind of container could you fill with these with with little to no air space?” Have them turn and tell a neighbor.
  • Have students share out their ideas with the whole class.
  • Share a magnified base-ten cube and describe the features using words like length (side-to-side), width (depth, front-to-back), and height (how tall top-to-bottom).
  • Explain to your students that volume is the area of space something takes up.
  • Explain that the area of the base-ten cube is one cubic centimeter. That volume is calculated with this formula: Volume = length (l) width (w) height (h) - or - V=lwh.
(10 minutes)
  • Tell your class that they will build model volumes for rectangular objects, also known as rectangular prisms, made up of cubed units.
  • Demonstrate a rectangular prism with a volume of eight cube units. Note the unit length, unit width, and unit height are observed by counting the cube unit edges.
  • Show your class how measurement of volume is written as a number and the abbreviation for cubed units (u³).
  • Have your class model volume for a rectangular prism with a volume of 15 u³, sharing its unit length, unit width, and unit height measurements with a neighbor.
(5 minutes)
  • Hand out and preview the Modeling Rectangular Prisms worksheet to your class. Go over the example and answer any clarifying questions.
(15 minutes)
  • Students complete the Modeling Rectangular Prisms worksheet grouped accordingly for peer collaboration.


  • Students can add detailed illustrations to their explanations and provide the different views of their rectangular prisms.


  • Students who have difficulty sketching rectangular prisms can draw an outline of their rectangular prism and list their length, width, and height unit measurements.
  • Check in with students and have them point out the edges for each dimension as they calculate the volume for their rectangular prisms.

Cell phones are great tools for taking pictures of student models. Sending pictures to yourself and import them into a newsletter template makes for a great way to showcase student work.

(5 minutes)
  • Show your students two to three sketches of rectangular prisms and ask them to tell you the volume. They should also be able to add a brief explanation as to how they got their answers.
(10 minutes)
  • Have students create a model of an exercise of their choice for students to observe and have them do a Gallery Walk around the room to silently look at classmate’s work.
  • When students return to their seats, have them share observations using academic language from the lesson.

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