Volume and Surface Area

Charlotte Goldwater Kenwood Academy
5015 S. Blackstone
Chicago IL 60645
(312) 535-1409


The main objective is to understand the difference between surface area and
volume. This activity is appropriate for grades one through twelve.

Materials Needed:

1. Paint brushes
2. Water color paint
3. Boxes of sugar cubes (198 in each box)
4. Cup with some water
5. Cake baked in a rectangular or square pan
6. One can of frosting
7. Plastics knives
8. Plastic rulers
9. A roll of wax paper
10. Little plastics zip-lock bags


For the appropriate level, give students a handout with different sized drawings
of rectangular prisms or cubes. Have students construct these shapes using
sugar cubes. Sugar cubes are one-half inch cubes. Students then count the
cubes. This is the volume. Students can practice drawings three dimensional
solids made up of cubes.

Give students pictures of solids constructed of cubes that are not rectangular
prisms. Discuss the cubes that are "hidden".

You can put a little Elmers glue to hold these solids together. Now paint or
use a marker to color or paint all of the outside surfaces. The students count
the number of squares they have painted. This is surface area.

Have students come up one at at time and cut a "cube" of cake 1x2x2 or 1x1x2.
Give each student a plastic knife. Let them frost the cake so that they can
experience surface area. Have them try to get it on all sides.

Performance Assessment:

Depending on the level of the students or class you can evaluate the class
through oral participation or in written follow up activities.
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