Dyan Branstetter | March 2016

Mastering Area and Perimeter by Creating Street Art

I love how an inspiration for an arts integration project can strike just by seeing a single picture and mastering area and perimeter by creating street arts.

Mastering Area and Perimeter by Creating Street Art, Fence Art, Education Closet


My school district adopted a new math curriculum last year as we transitioned to the Pennsylvania Core Standards. With it, came a unit on area and perimeter that required students to learn those concepts much deeper than I had ever taught before. I worked my tail off to plan lessons within my oh-so-fast pacing guide to help my students master the types of problems required, and the students really persevered. Even with all of the effort, I was not pleased with the number of students who had truly mastered the concept by the end of the year. I remember thinking, “If I just had more time…”

In my experience, students really need to be invested in the content to master and retain it. The best way to get students to invest is to present them with an authentic project. This will be my answer to our area and perimeter struggles. I had done all of the typical hands-on activities measuring of area and perimeter, but it didn’t stick for everyone. I needed something that students would be invested in, not just a fun, hands-on activity. (Note: Gold standard project-based learning allows the students to initiate the project or problem, but due to my district’s math pacing, I strategically design projects to integrate the maximum amount of standards possible to make up for the extra time it takes to actually complete the project.)

When browsing Pinterest a few months ago, I stumbled upon a picture of a chain link fence with plastic cups popped through the links to create a tulip. It had no description or website attached. But it did make me think of the very large chain link fence that surrounds our school playground. It gave a pixelated effect that sparked my project idea: Students will be in charge of working together to create a collaborative design or individual design in our playground fence.

Partners will have the parameter of working in a space of 2 square feet, or groups can merge their footage to create a larger design together. In addition, students will be required to place a border of new color around the edge of their design so that they can calculate the perimeter of their space. They will have to plan their design on paper, and then calculate the area and perimeter of the design. To incorporate calculating the area of composite figures, I may have the designs touch or require students to create a composite figure instead of a square or rectangle.

Not only will students be working with difficult eligible content, but they will be creating, collaborating, and presenting their artwork for a purpose. I am rolling out the project this week. Once we’re finished and I find what works and what doesn’t, I’ll post a lesson plan with related documents/resources should you want to try it!

Math Standards addressed involving Area and Perimeter: 

CC.2.4.3.A.6: Solve problems involving perimeters of polygons and distinguish between linear and area measures.

M03.D-M.4.1.1: Solve real-world and mathematical problems involving perimeters of polygons, including finding the perimeter given the side lengths, finding an unknown side length, exhibiting rectangles with the same perimeter and different areas, and exhibiting rectangles with the same area and different perimeters. Use the same units throughout the problem.

Arts Standards addressed involving Area and Perimeter:




Check out some chain link fence inspiration at the bottom of my Pinterest board.

About the Author

Dyan is a fifth grade teacher in a public school district in Lancaster, PA and has over 16 years of classroom experience. With a Masters of Science Education and a passion for dance and music, she strives to integrate the arts into the curriculum whenever possible. Dyan has a background in teaching advanced learners, and is devoted to using project based learning to help her students achieve 21st century learning skills and master the PA Core Standards.