Today I had the chance to teach the play-doh area lesson that I did not get to the other day. You can download the complete lesson plan for the play-doh activity here. It includes kid-friendly definitions, key understandings, and lesson plan steps.
I started the lesson by asking students what they already knew about area. Most of their thoughts were related to their teacher telling them to "stay in their area." lol. Since area was all knew to them I had to explain to them what it meant and how we talk about area in terms of covers more space, covers less space, and covers the same amount of space. They kept using the words bigger and smaller, so I had to keep bringing them back to covers more space, covers less space, etc.
With the help of another student, I modeled how to roll the play-doh into a ball, flatten it down into a circle, and compare the two circles to see which one had more area. Before showing them all of those steps, I asked them several questions to try and guide them to figure out that by laying one circle on top of another we could compare them and see which one had more area. Throughout our discussion, I continued to ask them what area was, which shape had more or less area, and how they knew.
First, I had students choose two different colored squares and compare them to one another. Then they glued them together.
I walked around and had small conversations with the students about whether their first square covered more area, less area, or the same amount of area as their second square. Then they finished filling out their recording sheet. As they finished up their work, I had them explain their process and thinking with me.