Lesson: Quadrilateral Investigation

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Lesson Objective

Students will be able define the properties of a square, rectangle, and rhombus.

Lesson Plan




Print out one copy per group of the Parallelogram Sort on colored cardstock. Using different colored paper for each group is helpful. Then print one copy per group of the Parallelogram Sort Guide also on colored cardstock. Have copies of the Parallelogram Sort Checklist for every student on hand.


Have students use whiteboards or scrap paper and draw a nonexample of a parallelogram. This should be fairly easy. Then have them draw an example. This will be tougher but is a good time to review the four properties of parallelograms.

Team Investigation

Break students into the same teams from yesterday. Pass out the Parallelogram Sort and Parallelogram Sort Guide to each group. Students will need rulers and protractors. Their job is to first cut the properties apart and then sort them into four groups. They also cut out the words parallelogram, rhombus, square, and rectangle to help start the piles. They should use the guide, their rulers, and protractors to determine which properties apply to which shapes. For the properties that are repeated four times, students should realize that one goes into each pile. They may have to draw on the shapes (i.e. the diagonals) to get accurate measurements. Circulate the room to check and correct.

Whole Class Discussion

After each team has agreed on the properties for each shape, bring the class back together. Pass out the Parallelogram Sort Checklist. As a class, go through each property and check the box for which shape it applies to. There should be some debate among students as they agree and disagree. It’s also a good time to discuss not judging by appearance only and why we use rulers and protractors to keep things accurate.


Pass out pieces of scrap paper. Have students write on their own, not in teams. Answer the question,Is a square a rectangle? Is a rectangle a square? Explain.”  Collect the papers and read through before the next class period.


What Worked

I like any activity that has students actively investigating and discovering concepts on their own. I think this was a good activity to make them think, check with their teammates, and really have some good discussions about the properties of quadrilaterals. Also, my students always need extra practice on measuring with rulers and protractors.

What Didn’t Work

This activity took longer than expected which may be due to the cutting. You could cut the properties into strips on your own or just go into this knowing that once the first class has cut them, you can reuse them over and over.  Also, you have to closely monitor this or students won’t measure at all and will just glance at the shape and then make a guess. I had some groups who would put more than one of the same properties in a pile; they weren’t even reading. Students might need more room than usual to spread out the strips and have neat piles. Letting students work in the floor is usually a good way to deal with the space issue.

Lesson Resources

Parallelogram Properties Sort  
Parallelogram Properties Sort Guide  
Parallelogram Properties Sort Checklist  


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