Pupils need to know that the area of a shape is the space within a shape. When there is a clear visual difference, pupils should be able to compare the area of shapes without making a quantitative evaluation of each area. For example, pupils can see that the circle has a larger area than the decagon.
Pupils should learn that, when there is not a clear visual difference between areas, a common unit can be used to quantify the areas and enable comparison. They should understand that any unit can be used, but that the square centimetre (cm2) is the standard unit of measure for area that they will use most frequently. Pupils should gain a sense of the size of a square centimetre, and the notation used, before they begin to quantify other areas using this unit. Pupils need to be able to find the area of shapes drawn on square-centimetre grids by counting squares, including shapes for which some of the area is made up of half-squares. They should understand that different shapes can have the same area.
Pupils should then learn that the area of a rectangle can be calculated by multiplying the length by the width. They should learn why this is the case by examining rectangles drawn on square-centimetre grids, and understand that the factors can be written in either order: the area of the rectangle below is equal to 4 rows of 5 square centimetres, or 5 columns of 4 square centimetres. This should build on pupils understanding of the grouping structure of multiplication and array representations.
Language focus “To find the area of a rectangle, multiply the length by the width.”
Pupils should learn that the area of larger shapes and spaces, such as the floor or ceiling of the classroom, or the playground, is expressed in square metres (m2). Pupils should experience working with large spaces directly, as well as drawings representing them