7 Manipulatives For Learning Area And Perimeter Concepts

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If you want to put a poster up on your bedroom wall, would you just guess the size and get whatever seems good, or actually measure the dimensions of your wall?

If you would measure the dimensions to see what poster or collection of posters could best fill up the wall, then you will be calculating the area and the perimeter of your wall. 

While these can seem like big concepts that require a lot of different formulas and several lines of computation, area, and perimeter are actually quite useful and needed in our everyday lives. This blog enlists various manipulatives that can make learning about these seemingly core mathematical concepts experiential and fun.

Solving the mystery of Area and Perimeter using manipulatives

If the architect of your school or house did not first calculate the area and the perimeter before drawing up a plan, chances are the rooms would either be way too big or way too small. Similarly, if a baker does not keep in mind the dimensions of the tray and the oven, they could end up making a cake that doesn’t even fit inside the oven.

Area and perimeter are important concepts with real-life applications that can be easily understood using the following manipulatives.

1. Area and Perimeter Dominoes

Area and Perimeter Dominoes

Bound to make players experts at calculating the area and perimeter of squares and rectangles, this dominoes set contains 48 pieces in total. 

This game can be played independently at home or in the classroom with a group of three to four students. The color-coded pack of dominoes asks the player to either find the area of the represented square or rectangle or its perimeter.

The educator can even turn this manipulative game into a competition to see which group is able to solve the highest number of dominoes. The group to achieve the same can be awarded various workbooks or shapes that they can take home and further have fun learning from.

2. Fence It 

Fence It 

With its nine double-sided task cards, square tiles, rulers, and fifty task cards, Fence It promises to be the ideal game for all things area and perimeter related.

Its gameplay is segregated into three levels, each increasingly harder than the last. At first, the players are expected to find the area and perimeter of different shapes using the ruler and square tiles. In the next level, the players are challenged to assemble the tiles to match the pattern on the cards, and on the last level, they are expected to match the shapes to the perimeter and area mentioned on the cards.

This competitive manipulative can also be played solo or with fellow classmates. Every player will learn various things like the difference between area and perimeter, the difference between the same, and learning how to compute area and perimeter for different figures.

3. Geoboard

. Geoboard

The classic game and manipulative Geoboard have countless practical uses, including learning the concepts of area and perimeter.

This set contains six bright-colored geoboards with a 5 x 5-pin array on one side and a 12-pin circular array on the other. Students can have fun creating their own shapes with the rubber bands, finding their lengths, and then computing their areas and perimeters.

To make things more interesting, the educator can also introduce the concept of diagonals and diameters and challenge the students to find both area and perimeter based on the same.

4. Square Color Tiles

Square Color Tiles

Square colored tiles are a unique manipulative that has a diverse set of uses while teaching every geometrical concept.

The educator can pass around cards with random right-angled shapes made on them. The task of the students can be to replicate the same using the tiles and then find their area and perimeter. 

The educator can also give each student a random number of tiles. Their challenge can then be to arrange the tiles in such a way that they make anything but a square or a rectangle. The shapes can either be L-shaped, T-shaped, or anything the student wants them to be. These shapes can then be randomly passed around, and their peers can then be tasked with finding the area and perimeter of the same.

5. Sticky notes

Sticky notes

Sticky notes are another such manipulative that can be used to make many topics interesting, including that area and perimeter.

The educator can pass around a pad of sticky notes to students, asking them to write various measurements like the length of the sides, the length of the diagonal, the width in the case of rectangular sticky notes, etc. The students should be cautious of missing out on at least one attribute’s size.

Then these sticky notes can be randomly pasted on a student’s seat. The task of that student will be to find the area and perimeter of the figure based on the attributes given and also the size of the missing attribute. This will give the learners extensive knowledge about how to manipulate one attribute to arrive at another. The learners can make calculations extra hard for their peers by giving sizes in decimal points and fractions.

6. Picasso Tiles

 Picasso Tiles

A colorful delight, a feast for both the creative as well as the logical side, this set takes learning about area and perimeter from the on-paper 2-D figures, to the real-life 3-D figures. Picasso Tiles are one of the few manipulatives that can even be used to introduce and learn the concepts of surface area and volume.

This tile set contains 60 tiles, with 4 big square pieces, 24 smaller squares, and 22 triangular pieces of three different shapes and sizes. These translucent tiles, which come in 8 different colors, can be assembled and connected with each other magnetically to make different structures like palaces, houses, buildings, castles, etc. The educator can use this as a manipulative to teach area and perimeter in the classroom by dividing the class into teams of 4 to 5 students each. They can be given the dimensions of each tile, which they can use to design the blueprint of their castle on paper and find out what the area and perimeter of the resultant structure will be. 

Next, they can be given the tile sets, which they can assemble according to their blueprint and arrange the colors to make it as aesthetically pleasing as possible. Once the castle is erected, they can measure its area and perimeter to see if it matches their earlier estimates. This will give the learners a real-life taste of how the concepts area and perimeter are used in various professions, including that of architecture and construction.

7. Coogam Wooden Puzzle Pattern Blocks

Coogam Wooden Puzzle Pattern Blocks

An advanced version of the ever-loved jigsaw puzzle, this Russian block puzzle called a tangram can not only be used as a manipulative to teach area and perimeter but improve spatial skills as well.

The set contains 11 different colored wooden blocks and a puzzle book with 60 different patterns. Learners can improve their fine motor skills and reasoning abilities just by arranging the blocks in various patterns that range from easy, moderate, and hard difficulty levels. For using this as a manipulative to teach about area and perimeter, the educator can also provide the students with either the dimensions for various blocks or a ruler. 

The task of the students will then be to match the pattern shown in the book with the blocks, measure the resultant figure’s dimensions, and then find its area and perimeter. This task can also be turned into a competition by the educator by giving each student a tangram puzzle, a reference picture to match the pattern with, and a ruler to measure the sides and see which team or individual is the first one to find the area and perimeter of the same.


Learning about area and perimeter can seem like a lot of work. Students usually shun away from these topics, thinking they involve memorizing different formulas, learning various concepts like diagonals, intercepts, bisectors, etc., and just a lot of calculations with fractional and decimal numbers.

This doesn’t have to be the case. Since area and perimeter are concepts with real-life applicability, they should be taught in the exact same way. Learning about them with classroom activities with and without manipulatives allows students to practically experience the concept, and modify and use them to not only excel in the classroom but also make real-life decisions.

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