Have them find surface area of actual items, like: a text book, a shoe box, dice, or a can of soup (with a label that is removable is best so they can see that it is a rectangle when unrolled).
Here are three great lesson ideas for teaching surface area:
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Make a larning game
Have them measure the surface area of their phones or Mp3 players. It's dangerous because they could be using them but you could tell all of them to hold up their phones at the start of class and then turn them off in front of you.
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