During the first section of this unit, students will construct a house plan, find the area of the house plan, and calculate flooring costs. While finding the area is the focus of this unit, the first few lessons (where students explore the meaning of a polygon, construct house plans, and decompose rectangles into smaller rectangles to find the area) lay the foundation for finding the area of their home plans later on. This also provides students with a meaningful and purposeful context to find the area.
During the second section of this unit, students will investigate dog pen designs and will primarily focus on finding the perimeter, or amount of fencing needed for different dog pens. Students will also explore odd-shaped polygons by finding the area and perimeter of odd-shaped dog pens.
I began the lesson by explaining: Today, you will be creating the rest of your house plan. Yesterday, you created a living room. Today, you will be adding other important rooms, such as a kitchen. But first, let's discuss a new vocabulary word, dimensions.
I used the following print out, Dimensions, to explain the difference between 0D,1D, 2D, and 3D: Dimensions have to do with the number of measurements, such as the measurement of length, width, or height. If you have a small point or a dot on a piece of paper, there are 0 dimensions, but if you have a line, there is 1 dimension because you could measure the length of the line. While building your houses, you have had to take into consideration two measurements for each room... the length and the height. This is why a rectangle is a 2D shape. However, if a shape is 3D, there are three measurements: length, width, and height.
We then developed a simple definition for dimensions as a class, Dimensions: length, width, height.
When I teach vocabulary, I try to use TPR (Total Physical Response). As a class, we will develop a simple definition for a vocabulary word as well as hand movements. TPR activates multiple parts of the brain and promotes a stronger memory connection. Often, students are able to recall the meaning of vocabulary words by recalling the hand movements.
Today, we discuss and come up with the following definition and hand movements: Dimensions! the number of measurements (act like you are taking the tape out of a tape measurer) length (arm parallel to body) width (arm extended out from body - perpendicular) and sometimes height (arm bent and going upward).
Next, we practice the new vocabulary word several times. To review the meaning of dimensions, throughout the unit I say, Turn and Talk: What is the meaning of dimensions again? Students will use the hand movements to recall the definition!
Reviewing Living Room Points
I review the 4-Point Room Check List that we created yesterday to make sure students were given clear expectations on all rooms in the house. By putting a point value on expectations, student motivation and ownership increases.
1. Living room is drawn correctly, walls are straight and on the lines
2. Length is correctly labeled (Example: 18 ft)
3. Width is correctly labeled (Example: 12 ft)
4. Room is labeled (Explain: beginning with capital letters)
Setting up Guidelines
Next, we create a list of required rooms in every student's house plan to calculate the total points for the whole house plan: House Points. I ask students to use the Room Sizes Guide (found at this link) to determine which rooms must be included in all house plans. At first, one student said, "We need a kitchen." Others agree and point out that we also need a dining room, at least one bedroom, at least one bathroom, and a laundry room. Students then calculate the total number of points for the whole house plan (6 rooms x 4 = 24 points).
Home Plan Criteria
Of course, students want to know if they can add in more rooms, such as a dog room or a "man cave." I encourage students to first meet the assignment expectations with the first six rooms and then add on addition rooms if they have time.
Reasonable Room Sizes
Again, I remind students to develop reasonable room sizes by referring to the Room Sizes Guide. This is important because some students will construct a bedroom that isn't even big enough for a bed! I want students to realize the relative size of a foot as well as the relative size of a bedroom wall.
Common Core Connection
During this home plan activity students are truly engaged in Math Practice 1 (Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them) as they are having to make many decisions about room type, room size, hallway size, door placement, room location in the house, etc.
Monitoring Student Understanding
Once the class began working on their house plans, I conference with as many students as possible. My goal is to support students by providing them with the opportunity to explain their thinking and by asking guiding questions. I also want to encourage students to construct viable arguments by using evidence to support their thinking (Math Practice 3).
As I watch, I notice students putting too much space between rooms instead of using common walls. For example, a bathroom wall can also a wall to the dining room next door. I encourage students to look at my example model house or the actual blueprints for my house (My House Blueprints), and they quickly realize what they need to do. I also point out how to "use up extra space" by installing storage or widening rooms.
In addition, some students construct a home plan with one foot hallways. I grab a ruler to show these students the width of one foot. They quickly decide that hallways need to be at least three feet wide for moving furniture.
Here, House Plan Example 1, a student completed a beautiful house plan, but needs to take common walls into consideration. We discuss how much more costly the house will be to build if rooms do not share walls.
This student, House Plan Example 2, got done early and added extra rooms, such as a garage, study, and library. The students who carefully planned their home plans were able to fit more rooms.
Here is an example of a student who needs more support with correctly counting the dimensions of each room: House Plan Example 3. I pull this student aside so we can check the work together, one room at a time.
At the end of today's lesson, students cut out their home plans and taped them onto a cardboard backing.
After today's lesson, I decide to use our art lesson time to turn this 2D plan into a 3D project by providing students with the materials to build walls. Art standards that 4th graders met included: exploring relationships of objects in space, using a variety of materials and sources to experiment with an art form, and applying the elements of line, shape, form, and space to compose works of art.
Prior to this lesson, I cut a pile of 1.5 inch Strips of Cardstock Paper. I also collect several tape dispensers to make this project quick and easy!
To model how to install walls, I invite students to the back table. I refer to My Example Model House and explain: Today, you get to install walls on your house plan! But first, I'd like to show you some tricks for installing your walls.
I first show students how to line up the card stock strips with the walls of each room and how to fold accordingly: Fold Walls. I then tape these walls to the house plan using minimal tape.
I also model how to cut out doorways and garage doors. Students were really excited about adding these special features!
I like to make sure project expectations are clear, so I specifically outline four guidelines (and write them on the board) that will help students construct a neat and precise final project.
1. Walls need to be placed on the lines.
2. Overlap walls to reinforce.
3. Use small pieces of tape.
4. You can cut flaps for doors.
Most students finish while some students only got the outside walls up. However, building walls really helped kids begin to visualize the space inside their homes! Here are some beautiful examples of finished work. I am sure that providing clear guidelines encouraged a higher quality of student work: