Activities at Home

Square Off

Here is a use for those leftover square floor tiles or those square floppy disks that you got for your first computer!

What You Need:

  • Square items, such as floor tiles or floppy disks—as many as you have (If square items are unavailable, cut out squares, measuring 6 to 8 inches on each side, from heavy paper.)
  • Paper and pencil

What You and Your Child Will Do:

  1. Your child is learning that area is measured in square units. Say that you need to know the area of the kitchen table (or a desk, depending on what surfaces you have that are rectangular) and that you would like your child's help in finding it.
  2. Provide your child with as many squares of one size as you have. Challenge him or her to figure out how to measure the surface with these “square units.”
  3. Your child may be unsure of how to begin, or he or she may put down the squares at random. If so, offer guidance in how to place the squares one next to the other (and not overlapping), beginning at one corner of the surface.
  4. Since your child may not have enough squares to completely cover the surface, you may need to help count the number put down, and then record the number to that point. Repeat the process until squares have been put down over the complete surface. (You may choose to have your child cover what appears to be about half of the surface and then double the number of squares put down to that point as an estimate of the number that would cover the entire surface.)
  5. Finally, ask your child how to write the area of the surface. (The area should be expressed as “blanksquare units.”)