ALEX Lesson Plan


Nets:  Message in a Box

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Lynda Wilder
System: Blount County
School: Hayden Middle School
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 29778


Nets:  Message in a Box


In cooperative/collaborative groups, students will compare and contrast a two-dimensional pattern and a three-dimensional shape. Students will use a net to label and then construct a rectangular prism. Students will find the surface area of a rectangular prism. As a final performance task, students will create a message box. 

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
MA2019 (2019)
Grade: 6
27. Determine the surface area of three-dimensional figures by representing them with nets composed of rectangles and triangles to solve real-world and mathematical problems.
Unpacked Content
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
Given real-world and mathematical problems involving surface area,
  • Use models of the relating net of the 3-D figure to explain and justify solutions and solution paths.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • Nets
  • Surface area
  • Rectangular prism
  • Triangular prism
  • Square pyramid
  • Rectangular pyramid
  • Triangular pyramid
Students know:
  • Measurable attributes of objects, specifically area and surface area.
  • Strategies for representing the surface area of a 3-D shape as a 2-D net.
Students are able to:
  • Communicate the relationships between rectangular models of area and multiplication problems.
  • Model the surface area of 3-D shapes using 2-D nets.
  • Accurately measure and compute area of triangles and rectangles.
  • Strategically and fluently choose and apply strategies for finding surface areas of 3-D figures.
Students understand that:
  • Area is additive.
  • Surface area of a 3-D shape is represented by the sum of the areas of the faces of the object.
  • Models represent measurable attributes of objects and help to solve problems.
Diverse Learning Needs:
Essential Skills:
Learning Objectives:
M.6.27.1: Define three-dimensional figures, surface area, and nets.
M.6.27.2: Identify three-dimensional figures.
M.6.27.3: Draw nets to find the surface area of a given three-dimensional figure.
M.6.27.4: Recall how to calculate the area of a rectangle.
M.6.27.5: Select and create a three-dimensional figure using manipulatives.

Prior Knowledge Skills:
  • Describe attributes of three-dimensional figures.
  • Describe attributes of two-dimensional figures.
  • Identify solid figures.
  • Recall the formula for area (L × W).
  • Recognize that unit squares are equal.

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
M.AAS.6.27 Calculate problems involving perimeter of squares, triangles, rectangles, and other polygons with sides up to 10 units and calculate problems involving the area of rectangles and squares with sides up to 10 units (whole numbers only).

Local/National Standards:

Standards for Mathematical Practice:
4. Model with mathematics
5. Use appropriate tools strategically
6. Attend to precision
7. Look for make use of structure


National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Standards for Grades 6-8:

Analyze characteristics and properties of two- and three-dimensional geometric shapes and develop mathematical arguments about geometric relationships of similar objects; create and critique inductive and deductive arguments concerning geometric ideas and relationships, such as congruence, similarity, and the Pythagorean relationship; precisely describe, classify, and understand relationships among types of two-and three-dimensional objects using their defining properties; understand relationships among the angles, side lengths, perimeters, area, and volumes.


Primary Learning Objective(s):

Key Concept:  Two-dimensional shapes can be assembled to form three-dimensional figures.

Key Math Vocabulary:
• Rectangle – A parallelogram with four right angles.
• Rectangular Prism – A polyhedron whose bases are rectangles and whose other faces are rectangles.
• Net – An arrangement of two-dimensional figures that can be folded to form a polyhedron.
• Polyhedron – A three-dimensional figure in which all the surfaces or faces are polygons.
• Polygon – A closed plan figure formed by three or more line segments that intersect only at their endpoints.
• Surface Area – The sum of the areas of the faces, or surfaces, of a three – dimensional figure.

Additional Learning Objective(s):

Message Box: Nets
Student Outcome: Students will create nets for a rectangular prism. Students will find the volume and the surface area of the rectangular prism.

 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

61 to 90 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

• Rectangular prism net
• Glue or tape
• Scissors
Grid paper – centimeter squares
• Straight edge
• Large grid paper – one inch squares
• Scrapbook paper = 12in X 12in sheets or heavy paper

Technology Resources Needed:





Prior knowledge formula:  Area = Length times Width

Students should discover the following formula for finding the surface area of a rectangular prism:  Math formula for the surface area of a rectangular prism:  2lh + 2lw + 2wh, or 2(lh + lw = wh)   l = length; h = height; w = width


As students enter the classroom, the teacher will hand each student a colored card.  Students will be assigned to groups according to the color of the card.  Students should be in groups of four.

Before:  (Activate prior knowledge) 3 to 5 minutes

Handout a t-chart for students to list and sort two-dimensional and three-dimensional examples.

Show video on two-dimensional and three-dimensional examples. ( examples of 24 nets)

During:  (Actively engage students)  The teacher give the students the two performance tasks:


Follow the steps to complete the performance task.

Rectangular Prism: Centimeter Grid Paper
Performance Task I: (5cm X 6cm X 4cm)
1. Label the dimensions (on the inside).
2. Cut out the provided rectangular prism net.
3. ( length = 5cm, width = 6cm, height = 4cm) = 5cm X 6cm X 4cm
4. The formula to find the volume of a rectangular prism is: V=lwh
5. The volume of this rectangular prism is __
6. The formula to find the surface area of a rectangular prism is:
SA = 2lw + 2wh + 2lh
7. Find the surface area of this rectangular prism.
8. Show your work.

Performance Task II:
1. Draw a net for a rectangular prism.
2. Use the following dimensions:
6cm X 4cm X 2cm.
3. Label the three dimensions.
4. What is the formula to find the volume of a rectangular prism? 
5. Find the volume of the rectangular prism. 
6. What is the formula to find the surface area of the rectangular prism? 
7. Find the surface area of the rectangular prism.

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Assessment Strategies

After:  (Assessment)

Performance Task III will be used to assess for enduring understanding. Rubric included on the Performance Task III card.  In addition, a writing component is at the end of the Performance Task III card.


Printable nets: 2D patterns for 3D shapes

This interactive tool allows you to learn about various geometric solids and their properties. You can manipulate and color each shape to explore the number of faces, edges, and vertices.

Writing Component:  After students have completed Performance Task III, they can write message to their classmates and put their message in the boxes.  


Video on 2-D patterns and the 3-D shapes they create.  This is a Youtube video.  If the school system blocks Youtube videos, the teacher may download the video for free at

Videos, worksheets, stories and songs to help Grade 5 to Grade 8 students learn how to draw and recognize nets for 3-dimensional shapes.

View the Special Education resources for instructional guidance in providing modifications and adaptations for students with significant cognitive disabilities who qualify for the Alabama Alternate Assessment.