Adult Ed

Area Art: Ethnomathematics For The Twenty-First Century

Overview | Activities


In this self-guided lesson, learners will review a variety of geometric shapes and ways of calculating area, and begin to understand how patterns can give us insight into art and culture. Many people take the basic principles of geometry for granted, yet the rules for solving problems in geometry can often help us solve real-world challenges. In fact, contractors, architects and artists often use these rules to create their work. As part of the PBS mission to "inform, inspire and educate," this lesson seeks to promote cultural awareness and competence, examining specific patterns in Islamic art, promoting cultural literacy and making connections to math content.

Content Area: Math

Grade level: Adult (ABLE, GED), Intermediate

Learning Objectives:

Learners will be able to:

  • develop numeracy skills/greater visual-spatial sense using geometric figures
  • identify and describe real-world uses of geometry principles
  • calculate values of congruent objects given various angle and side measures

Students will understand the concepts of and become proficient with the skills of mathematics; communicate and reason mathematically; become problem solvers by using appropriate tools and strategies through the integrated study of number sense and operations, algebra, geometry, measurement and statistics and probability.

Students will judge the reasonableness of results obtained from applications in algebra, geometry, trigonometry, probability and statistics.

Media components
Standard Deviants School Geometry: Figuring Out Area, Segment 3 "Area of Combined Shapes & Review" EdVideo Online is one of the many resources Thirteen makes available to educators in New York at no cost. Once users register for the service, they will have access to thousands of downloadable video clips, curriculum resources, images, lesson plans and more to support learning, enhance presentations or conduct research in a user-friendly, Web-based environment right from home. (Windows Media and Quicktime formats available).

STANDARD DEVIANTS PRODUCT GEOMETRY 2 INSERT CARDS (HANDOUT) This resource is included with individual copies of the Standard Deviants home video for Geometry. Cerebellum Inc. makes many of their product inserts available online; check their catalogue at

Area Explained This site clearly explains how the areas of polygons and circles are calculated. Each explanation is immediately followed by an example problem to try along with its solution.

Math Playground: Do the Math This interactive Web site allows users to measure rectangles and calculate perimeter and area with a Web-based ruler that can be manipulated. GREAT practice and review!

GED corporate.dll?PCMF7J These practice items will give learners practice completing tasks similar to those required for the GED Math test.

GEOMETRIC PATTERNS (Handout) This packet of teaching resources is provided through the University of Exeter (UK); it has templates for creating your own patterns, a glossary of geometry-related math terms and interesting facts that explain how geometry relates to various cultures.

Area and Perimeter in Islamic art This link allows learners to get more practice identifying basic shapes as part of more complex polygonal forms and outlines while also challenging learners to practice determining area and perimeter of these irregular polygons.

Islamic Art This site provides an overview of Islamic art as applied math. The definition for "geometry" is provided and insight into the history of math from a cultural perspective makes this a unique Web space for interested learners.

Islamic Tiling templates These templates provide a basic outline of the elements found in many Islamic art forms.

Quilted Math This informative site gives a description of the art of quilting and the geometry it uses.

Anna Grossnickle Hines Quilting Page This interactive site allows users to create their own virtual quilts using various colored triangles to form the patterns.

  • Computer with Internet access
  • Notebook or paper (optional)
  • Handouts
  • Calculator
  • Ruler (optional)
  • Compass (optional)