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Instructor Overview

Lesson Overview

Students find the area of a parallelogram by rearranging it to form a rectangle. They find the area of a trapezoid by putting together two copies of it to form a parallelogram. By doing these activities and by analyzing the dimensions and areas of several examples of each figure, students develop and understand area formulas for parallelograms and trapezoids.

Key Concepts

A parallelogram is a quadrilateral with two pairs of parallel sides. The base of a parallelogram can be any of the four sides. The height is the perpendicular distance from the base to the opposite side.

A trapezoid is a quadrilateral with exactly one pair of parallel sides. The bases of a trapezoid are the parallel sides. The height is the perpendicular distance between the bases.

You can cut a parallelogram into two pieces and reassemble them to form a rectangle. Because the area does not change, the area of the rectangle is the same as the area of the parallelogram. This gives the parallelogram area formula A = bh.

You can put two identical trapezoids together to form a parallelogram with the same height as the trapezoid and a base length equal to the sum of the base lengths of the trapezoid. The area of the parallelogram is (b1 + b2)h, so the area of the trapezoid is one-half of this area. Thus, the trapezoid area formula is A = 12(b1 + b2)h.

Goals and Learning Objectives

  • Develop and explore the formula for the area of a parallelogram.
  • Develop and explore the formula for the area of a trapezoid.