3 Tips to Help Students Tell the Difference Between Area and Perimeter

For as long as I can remember students have mixed up the difference between area and perimeter on standardized tests. Around this time of year as state testing approaches, we all get this nutty feeling that we need to start hammering test prep activities and get out flashcards with vocabulary. Here are three easy ways to ease your test prep anxiety and get students engaged with these two concepts.

First: make it part of your every day practice. For example, when it’s time for a class meeting and you’d like them to sit in a circle, make it a rectangle instead and ask them to sit on the perimeter of the mat/rug. “Please go to your perimeter spot.” When it’s time for a mini lesson, have them sit in the area part of the mat. “Please have a seat in your area spot.” Take a picture of them in both of those spots and label it on an anchor chart during your beginning of the year routines.

Second: use visuals like anchor charts during your lesson, and then keep up after your lesson on your walls. Check out this real world connection from Fifth in the Middle:

Once they understand the real world application, you can then talk through a more abstract model for your anchor chart (which is much more like what they will see on a standardized test):

Third: Try some deep thinking activities that will get them applying the concepts. Press play on the video below to see it in action. You can try one for free by clicking the link for PILES and downloading the preview. The activity is SO engaging and sometimes more effective because it’s not a worksheet. I love it because we have so many representations on standardized tests, and this takes some of the pressure off of test prep.