Teaching Volume and Surface Area with Interactive Materials

7 cool ideas for teaching nets, surface area and volume with interactive, hands-on and visual materials

What's your topic that finally clicked as an adult and left you wondering how the heck you ever got through all those years of math? I have a few. One of those for me is how surface area and volume relate. 

It's super cool that the surface area of a sphere is the derivative of its volume, but I'm not even talking anything this serious here. I'm talking cones and cylinders.

This was one of those geek-out videos for me. I was teaching 8th grade and came across this video before teaching surface area and volume for the first time. I was way more excited about it than my students were (or as they were pretending to be, since they were 8th graders) because of the way it so gracefully linked volume to surface area with only some funky music.

7 cool ideas for teaching nets, volume and surface area

I'm always on the lookout for cool ways to teach math with less words so that kids who may have weaknesses in reading can find as much success as their peers.

materyaldunyasi35 purple felt cone net unzipped

Instagrammer @materyaldunyasi35 posted these felt shapes that she made to unzip into nets! Above is her purple felt cone.

materyaldunyasi35 green felt cylinder net unzipped

And her green felt cylinder.

materyaldunyasi35 green felt cylinder

I love them because they are so hands-on. Kids can unzip from 3-d shapes to flat nets. They really connect surface area to volume. 

Lady Foster (Jennifer Foster on Etsy) made this beautiful anchor chart for the surface area of triangular prisms. I love how it breaks down this tricky topic so nicely.

And how about these pull-up shapes from Mandy Kelly (@kellys_classroom) that are pretty much the coolest things ever. You can find their download here on tpt.

Volume and Surface Area Math Pennant

I've written a whole lot about displaying student work, how good this makes students feel and how math pennants are a nice combination of work and classroom decor. Kids love seeing their work displayed (even my seniors!). This volume and surface area pennant lets kids color and display their work while practicing to find volume and area. 

FREE Math Word Wall for Surface Area and Volume

If you have students who need visuals, this volume and surface area word wall is free in my TpT store. It's great for kids who need immediate access to visuals to remember the formulas they are using in class.

nets on a 6th grade math word wall

The nets above are one of my favorite math word wall references. They are included as part of my 6th grade math word wall. The triangular pyramid threw me for a loop! 

Area of Composite Figures Pennant

And this nets and composite figures math pennant asks students to find the areas of figures made of rectangles and triangles. 

Surface area of a Sierpinski Tetrahedron

How cool is this? A Teacher in our Visual Math Facebook group posted this Sierpinski Tetrahedron that her Geometry students built and that they challenged the rest of their school to find its surface area! I love this project because it is team-building, rigorous and fun. Plus, it made me want to join in!

Volume and Surface Area of Cones, Cylinders, Spheres Digital Math Escape Room

And I just finished this volume and surface area of cones, cylinders and spheres digital math escape room. Students unlock 5 locks through answering 20 questions. Questions are grouped 4 per puzzle, resulting in five 4-letter codes that will unlock all 5 locks. The escape room was built into a answer-validated Google Form so is self-checking (and no grading-- wahoo!).

Scaffolded Math and Science

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