The best way for your students to learn about surface area is for them to experience it hands-on.
This bundle starts out with a few simple pages of foldable nets. Students need experience folding in order to visualize the concept of surface area! I purposely don't include tabs used for gluing the faces together, because I believe it's more valuable for students to open and close the nets instead of spending time gluing.
Next, your students can demonstrate their understanding of bases, faces, and lateral faces in the Secret Message Math activity. It's one of the only ways my students have every been excited about the properties of 3D figures!
Finally, over the course of 3 introductory activities, your students will find the surface area for grid paper nets. These include a rectangular prism, a cube, a triangular prism, and a square pyramid. The grid paper enforces the idea that area refers to "square units". The nets help your students visualize the individual square units on each surface, which are needed to calculate surface area.
Each grid paper net page includes a detachable set of questions, which can be used to monitor student comprehension.