Lesson plan

Lesson 4: Parallelograms

teaches Arizona State Standards 6.G.A.1
teaches Common Core State Standards MP8 http://corestandards.org/Math/Practice/MP8
teaches Common Core State Standards MP7 http://corestandards.org/Math/Practice/MP7
teaches Common Core State Standards 6.G.A.1 http://corestandards.org/Math/Content/6/G/A/1
teaches Colorado State Standards 6.G.A.1.
teaches Georgia State Standards MGSE6.G.1.
teaches Kansas State Standards 6.G.1.
teaches Minnesota State Standards
teaches New York State Standards NY-6.G.1.
teaches Ohio State Standards 6.G.1.
teaches Pennsylvania State Standards CC.2.3.6.A.1.

Lesson 4: Parallelograms

Students were introduced to parallel lines in grade 4. While the standards do not explicitly state that students must work with parallelograms in grades 3–5, the geometry standards in those grades invite students to learn about and explore quadrilaterals of all kinds. The K–6 Geometry Progression gives examples of the kinds of work that students can do in this domain, including work with parallelograms.

In this lesson, students analyze the defining attributes of parallelograms, observe other properties that follow from that definition, and use reasoning strategies from previous lessons to find the areas of parallelograms.

By decomposing and rearranging parallelograms into rectangles, and by enclosing a parallelogram in a rectangle and then subtracting the area of the extra regions, students begin to see that parallelograms have related rectangles that can be used to find the area.

Throughout the lesson, students encounter various parallelograms that, because of their shape, encourage the use of certain strategies. For example, some can be easily decomposed and rearranged into a rectangle. Others—such as ones that are narrow and stretched out—may encourage students to enclose them in rectangles and subtract the areas of the extra pieces (two right triangles).

After working with a series of parallelograms, students attempt to generalize (informally) the process of finding the area of any parallelogram (MP8).

Note that these materials use the “dot” notation (for example \(2\cdot3\)) to represent multiplication instead of the “cross” notation (for example \(2\times3\)). This is because students will be writing many algebraic expressions and equations in this course, sometimes involving the letter \(x\) used as a variable. This notation will be new for many students, and they will need explicit guidance in using it.

Lesson overview

  • 4.1 Warm-up: Features of a Parallelogram (10 minutes)
  • 4.2 Activity: Area of a Parallelogram (15 minutes)
    • There is a digital applet in this activity. 
  • 4.3 Activity: Lots of Parallelograms (15 minutes)
  • Lesson Synthesis
  • 4.4 Cool-down: How Would You Find the Area? (5 minutes)

Learning goals:

  • Compare and contrast (orally) different strategies for determining the area of a parallelogram.
  • Describe (orally and in writing) observations about the opposites sides and opposite angles of parallelograms.
  • Explain (orally and in writing) how to find the area of a parallelogram by rearranging or enclosing it in a rectangle.

Learning goals (student facing):

  • Let’s investigate the features and area of parallelograms.

Learning targets (student facing):

  • I can use reasoning strategies and what I know about the area of a rectangle to find the area of a parallelogram.
  • I know how to describe the features of a parallelogram using mathematical vocabulary.

Required materials:

  • geometry toolkits


  • parallelogram - A parallelogram is a type of quadrilateral that has two pairs of parallel sides. 

    Here are two examples of parallelograms. 

  • quadrilateral - A quadrilateral is a type of polygon that has 4 sides. A rectangle is an example of a quadrilateral. A pentagon is not a quadrilateral, because it has 5 sides.
  • Access the complete Grade 6 glossary.


  • This lesson builds on the standards:CCSS.4.G.A.2MS.4.G.2MO.4.GM.A.2 CCSS.5.G.BMO.5.GM.A






IM 6–8 Math was originally developed by Open Up Resources and authored by Illustrative Mathematics, and is copyright 2017-2019 by Open Up Resources. It is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0). OUR's 6–8 Math Curriculum is available at https://openupresources.org/math-curriculum/.

Adaptations and updates to IM 6–8 Math are copyright 2019 by Illustrative Mathematics, and are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).

Adaptations to add additional English language learner supports are copyright 2019 by Open Up Resources, and are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).

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