Using a Geoboard in Math

15 Geoboard Activities for 5th-Grade Math Students

Child in front of a chalkboard
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The geoboard is just one of many math manipulatives that can be used in math to support understanding of a concept. Math manipulatives help teach concepts in a concrete method which is preferred before attempting the symbolic format. Geoboards are used to support early geometric, measurement, and numeracy concepts.

Geoboard Basics

Geoboards are square boards that have pegs to which students attach rubber bands to form various shapes. Geo-boards come in 5-by-5 pin arrays and 10-by-10 pin arrays. If you don't have any geoboards handy, dot paper can be used as an alternative, although it won't make learning quite as enjoyable for students.

Unfortunately, rubber bands can lead to mischief when given to young children. Before getting started with your geoboards, teachers and students need to have a conversation about the appropriate use of rubber bands. Make it clear that any students who abuse rubber band use (by snapping them or shooting them at others) will not be allowed to use them and will be given dot paper instead. This tends to ensure that students who wish to use rubber bands will do so thoughtfully.

15 Geoboard Questions for 5th-Graders

Here are some questions for the 5th graders that encourage students' understanding by representing figures while also helping them develop concepts about measurements, or more specifically, area. In order to determine if students have gained an understanding of the desired concept, ask them to hold up their geo-boards each time they've completed a question so you can check their progress.

1. Show a triangle that has an area of one square unit.

2. Show a triangle with an area of 3 square units.

3. Show a triangle with an area of 5 square units.

4. Show an equilateral triangle.

5. Show an isosceles triangle.

6. Show a scalene triangle.

7. Show a right triangle with an area of more than 2 square units.

8. Show 2 triangles that have the same shape but that are different sizes. What is the area of each triangle?

9. Show a rectangle with a perimeter of 10 units.

10. Show the smallest square on your geoboard.

11. What is the largest square you can make on your geoboard?

12. Show a square with 5 square units.

13. Show a square with 10 square units.

14. Make a rectangle with an area of 6. What is its perimeter?

15. Make a hexagon and determine the perimeter.

These questions can be modified to meet learners at various grade levels. When introducing the geoboard, begin with an exploring type of activity. As the comfort level increases when working with geoboards, it is useful to have students begin transferring their figures/shapes to dot paper.

To extend some of the questions above, you can also include concepts such as which figures are congruent, or which figures have 1 or more lines of symmetry. Questions like this should be followed up with, "How do you know?" which requires students to explain their thinking.