Students explore concepts of perimeter and geometry, specifically measuring perimeter. They start by exploring the specific attribute of perimeter, and then come to differentiate between perimeter and area as different measurements.
In Unit 5, students explore concepts of perimeter and geometry. Students have gradually built their understanding of geometric concepts since Kindergarten, when students learn to name shapes regardless of size and orientation. They also learn to distinguish between flat and solid shapes. In Grade 1, students’ understanding grows more nuanced, as they learn to distinguish between defining and non-defining attributes, as well as compose and decompose both flat and solid shapes. In Grade 2, students draw and identify shapes with specific attributes. All of this understanding gets them ready for Grade 3, in which students begin their journey of measuring those attributes, including area (addressed in Unit 4), and perimeter (explored here), as well as classification of shapes based on attributes into one or more categories.
Students begin the unit by defining perimeter as the boundary of a two-dimensional shape and measure it by finding its length. For a polygon, the length of the perimeter is the sum of the lengths of the sides. They develop their understanding of perimeter by measuring it with a ruler, finding it when all side lengths are labeled, and then finding it when some information about the length of a shape’s side lengths needs to be deduced, such as when a rectangle only has its length and width labeled. Students then solve real-world and mathematical problems, both given a figure and without one, involving perimeters of polygons (3.MD.8). With this understanding of perimeter, they are able to compare the measurement of area and perimeter of a rectangle, seeing that a rectangle with a certain area can have a variety of perimeters and, conversely, a rectangle with a certain perimeter can have a variety of areas, connecting the additional cluster content of perimeter to the major cluster content of area. Students then solve various problems involving area and perimeter. The last topic of the unit explores geometry. Students build on Grade 2 ideas about polygons and their properties, specifically developing and expanding their knowledge of quadrilaterals. They explore the attributes of quadrilaterals and classify examples into various categories (3.G.1), then explore attributes of polygons and classify examples into various categories, now including quadrilaterals. Students also draw polygons based on their attributes. Students next use tetrominoes and tangrams to compose and decompose shapes.
In this unit, students reason abstractly and quantitatively, translating back and forth between figures and equations in the context of perimeter problems (MP.2). Students will also construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others as they develop a nuanced understanding of the difference between area and perimeter, as well as when they classify shapes according to their attributes and justify their rationale (MP.3). Lastly, students will use appropriate tools strategically by using rulers to measure the side lengths of polygons to find their perimeter, as well as use rulers and right angle templates to find attributes of shapes to determine their classification (MP.5).
Students will further deepen their understanding of these ideas in future grade levels. In Grade 4, students solve more complex word problems involving area and perimeter (4.MD.3), as well as classify shapes based on the presence of parallel and perpendicular shapes (4.G.2), which is very connected to their study of angles (4.MD.5—7). The beginning work on categorization in Grade 3 culminates in Grade 5, where students have a complete picture of the hierarchical nature of classifying shapes (5.G.3). In the middle grades and high school, increasingly complex problems rely on students’ deep understanding of attributes of shapes and how to measure them, threaded throughout this unit.
Pacing: 17 instructional days (15 lessons, 1 flex day, 1 assessment day)
For guidance on adjusting the pacing for the 2021-2022 school year, see our 3rd Grade Scope and Sequence Recommended Adjustments.
This assessment accompanies Unit 5 and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.
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right angle
quadrilateral
polygon
perimeter
parallel
attribute
parallelogram
To see all the vocabulary for this course, view our 3rd Grade Vocabulary Glossary.
With Fishtank Plus you can access our Daily Word Problem Practice and our content-aligned Fluency Activities created to help students strengthen their application and fluency skills.
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