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Geometry: Building a Tiny (Paper) House

Grade Level: 

Subject: Mathematics

Common Core Standard: 3.MD.C.5 Understand Concepts of Area and Relate Area to Multiplication and to Addition

Concepts to Learn: 

  • Look for and make sense of structure. 
  • Engage problem-solving skills using real-life examples and applications. 
  • Reacquaint students with the basics of geometrical shapes and measurements.
  • Introduce a creative application that utilizes problem-solving skills and combines previous lessons. 


  • Construction paper, one square and one rectangle
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick
  • Decorations such as markers, stickers, or extra construction paper


Say: If you remember learning your shapes, you already know more than you may realize about geometry. Last year, you may have learned about measurements.

Ask: What do you remember about shapes and measurements? (Allow the appropriate time for students to answer questions and to review previous material).

Introduce Lesson

Say: Today we will study and apply our Geometry lesson by making paper houses. 

Ask: Has anybody heard of a tiny house? 

Say: A tiny house is a house that takes up very little space. Some people choose to live in a tiny house to save money or to live with only the necessities. Today, we will build our own tiny houses out of paper. We will all work together making our paper houses so that, by the end of the project, we will have a classroom Paper Town. 

Warm-up Blueprint Activity

  1. Hand out graph paper to your students.
  2. Create an example on a whiteboard or projector and walk students through drawing and problem-solving a tiny home.
    1. For example, the main part of the house could measure six squares by six squares.
  3. Students will measure the area of the house by adding the areas of the relevant shapes together. 
    1. For example, the main part of the house would create an equation 6 x 6 = 36 squares.
  4. Ensure students understand these calculations before proceeding to the paper house activity. 

Say: Now that we understand the basics, we will continue with the fun part. It's time to put on your construction hats because we will construct and decorate our tiny paper houses. 

Tiny Paper House Activity

  1. Pass out one square construction paper and one rectangle construction paper to students and instruct your students to pull out their scissors and other relevant items. 
  2. Walk students through instructions according to ability and materials available. Two optional instruction videos are listed under additional resources. (Note: Watch the listed videos before instructing your class). 
  3. Students will follow your instructions to complete their tiny house.
  4. Assist the students with their measurements in calculating the area of their tiny houses. (Note: All houses should be the same as long as you used the same sized paper.)
  5. Give students optional time to decorate the houses with markers or other items.
  6. Finally, students will create a listing for their tiny house with the measurements and additional information, including the price for their tiny home.

Folding Instructions:

  1. Fold your square paper in half.
  2. Keep your paper folded in half. Taking the left side of your paper, fold the paper inward to create a triangle. The top left corner will now be folded to touch the bottom middle of your paper.
  3. Repeat on the right side. Your paper should now look like a large triangle.
  4. Fold down the top point for your triangle to the halfway point of your paper. Unfold.
  5. Taking your left side, fold the side in until it is even with the topmost crease. Unfold.
  6. Repeat on the right side.
  7. Open your paper to the original fold, and cut your square in two using scissors. You will now have two rectangles with lots of creases.
  8. Cut the top left and right small rectangles, leaving a small rectangle at the top of your paper.
  9. Glue the corners down of your small rectangle to create a triangle.
  10. Repeat this step for the other half of your paper.
  11. Glue the small squares on your paper's left and right sides to your second paper's left and right sides. Doing this will create a 3D shape.
  12. Using the rectangle piece of construction paper, fold the paper in half to create the topmost part of your tiny house roof. Unfold.
  13. Glue the roof to the top of your tiny house.


Have your students present their tiny houses and offer a pitch to potential buyers in front of the class. 

Additional Resources:

Option 1: Instructional video

Option 2: No scissors, folding only

Written by Melanie Barrozo
Education World Contributor
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