Car board game.

CareerStart lessons: Grade six

LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

This activity combines math, art, and writing, as students design a floor plan for a house and use calculations of area to arrive at a cost estimate. Following the activity, students reflect on the experience by answering questions about the skills and requirements of contractors. You may choose to do this activity after the end-of-grade tests as an enrichment activity when you can devote more time, energy, and effort.

Learning outcomes

  • Students will calculate the area of two-dimensional figures.
  • Students will understand how general contractors use math in their careers.

Teacher planning

Materials needed

  • Student handouts:
    • Example of a computer-generated floor plan
    • General contractor scenario and guidelines
    • Student reflection paper
  • Graph paper
  • Calculator

Time required for lesson

Approximately 2 class periods and homework time both nights


  1. Conduct a class discussion about different careers in which a person might need to calculate area.
  2. Brainstorm the square footage of certain spaces: the classroom, an average-size apartment (about 1000-1200 square feet), a moderate-size home (1800-2400 square feet), etc. Then measure your classroom. Encourage your students to discuss room/house/lot sizes with their parents or guardians.
  3. Pass out the student handouts and graph paper, and explain the assignment scenario to the students: Students will work as general contractors for a local company that builds homes. The company’s rate for construction is $100 per square foot. Each student must draw the plans for a home that is approximately 2,000 square feet.
  4. Have the students design a home using the requirements from the student rubric/guidelines and then complete the reflection paper.


Optional resources for more information on the topics covered in this lesson

Math in Daily Life: Home Decorating
This website explains how area is important in home decorating and gives floor plan examples using squares, rectangles, and circles.
Construction Laborers: Math They Use
This website lists all the math topics used by construction laborers and links to the Bureau of Labor Statistics job profile.
Construction Managers: Math They Use
This website lists all the math topics used by construction managers and links to the Bureau of Labor Statistics job profile.
Maintenance, Construction, and Remodel Converters and Calculators
This website hosts dozens of construction-based calculators, conversion charts, and converter programs that can help students design their floor plan.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Mathematics (2004)

Grade 6

  • Goal 2: Measurement - The learner will select and use appropriate tools to measure two- and three-dimensional figures.
    • Objective 2.02: Solve problems involving perimeter/circumference and area of plane figures.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • Mathematics (2010)
      • Grade 6

        • Geometry
          • 6.G.1Find the area of right triangles, other triangles, special quadrilaterals, and polygons by composing into rectangles or decomposing into triangles and other shapes; apply these techniques in the context of solving real-world and mathematical problems.
        • Grade 7

          • 7.G.1Solve problems involving scale drawings of geometric figures, including computing actual lengths and areas from a scale drawing and reproducing a scale drawing at a different scale.
          • 7.G.6Solve real-world and mathematical problems involving area, volume and surface area of two- and three-dimensional objects composed of triangles, quadrilaterals, polygons, cubes, and right prisms.