This activity is designed to facilitate student exploration of surface area in order to build a conceptual foundation that can later serve as a context for surface area formulas.
There are six figures included in this surface area lesson: cube, cylinder, triangular prism, rectangular prism, triangular pyramid, and square pyramid. Personally, I like to set up six stations and have small groups travel to each station and work collaboratively to complete each station activity page.
Each station activity page provides step-by-step instructions that have students analyze the component shapes of a net, find the area of each component shape individually, and then add the area measures of all faces in order to arrive at the total surface area. Hopefully, as students go through this (pretty tedious!) process, they will come up with more efficient ways of finding surface area, and these observations will prepare them to better understand surface area formulas when they are later introduced. Questions to prompt this kind of thinking are included at the bottom of each station activity page.
For this activity, kids will need a net for each figure. I use this set
, but if you don’t have a plastic set available, you could use a resource like this
to print and cut out your own. Kids will also need rulers and colored pencils or crayons.
Two formats are included. One is a full page (standard paper size) format for teachers who would prefer to leave a stack of activity sheets at each station or run packets for each student. The other is a foldable booklet format (made from standard-size copy paper) for teachers who use interactive notebooks. Both formats contain the same information and activity structure. The foldable has a front cover (similar to this product cover) and a blank back cover so it can be glued into students’ notebooks.
As with all of my products, this activity carries a multiple license so you can share it with other teachers within your school system on a non-commercial basis. Please see my copyright page for more details on that.
If you enjoy using this product in your classroom, I’d love to hear your feedback! If you’d like to receive a notification when I post new products (I list them for 50% off during the first 48 hours), click on the green star next to my picture to follow me.
For more resources related to surface area, check out my:
Surface Area and Volume Koosh Ball Game for Interactive Whiteboards
7(9)(C) – Determine the area of composite figures containing combinations of rectangles, squares, parallelograms, trapezoids, triangles, semicircles, and quarter circles.
7(9)(D) – Solve problems involving the lateral and total surface area of a rectangular prism, rectangular pyramid, triangular prism, and triangular pyramid by determining the area of the shape’s net.
8.8A – Find lateral and total surface area of prisms, pyramids, and cylinders using concrete models and nets.
8.8C – Estimate measurements and use formulas to solve application problems involving lateral and total surface area.