AP6 and AP7 Tatami Mat Measuring

A traditional Japanese room is called a Nihon-ma. Instead of carpets, the floor in a Nihon-ma is covered with thick straw mats called tatami.

A tatami mat is a rectangle that measures 3 feet by 6 feet. The Japanese refer to the size of a room by the number of tatami mats that fit inside it.

Cut out the little paper tatami. Place as many mats as you can fit in Room A, but don’t let the mats overlap.

How many mats big is Room A? ___________

Tearoom Challenge!

The size of a traditional Japanese tearoom is often 4½ tatami mats. Use a little paper to figure out the shape of such a tearoom.

Lesson Plan: Tatami Mat Measuring

Target Grades: 3 and 4

Standards of Learning

Math 3.14, 3.18

Math 4.13


Students use paper cutouts to measure a Japanese room the old-fashioned way—by the number of tatami mats that will fit inside.


  • Students will recognize that a tatami mat is a rectangle and that half a tatami is a square.

  • They will have experience estimating and measuring an area using a nonstandard unit.

Essential Question(s):

How are tatami mats used in Japan?


  • Class session or free time activity

  • Individuals or partners


  • Scissors

  • Pencils


Photocopy Tatami Mat Measuring (AP #5) and Paper Tatami (AP #6) for each student or group.

Leave activity sheets and scissors out for a free time activity.


  1. Students read the information and follow the directions on the Tatami Mat Measuring activity sheet. They may work on their own or with a partner.
  2. After they manipulate the paper tatami and believe they have found the solution, suggest that they trace the paper tatami in the worksheet “room” to show the solution.


Students will be able to show the correct configuration of tatami in a 6-mat tea room. They will recognize

that the 4 ½ -mat configuration is a square.


  • If you have a roll of 3’ wide butcher paper and a yardstick, students can measure and cut out paper tatami to full scale (3’ x 6’) and use them to measure a space in tatami mat units. This is best done in a hallway or in a room where furniture can be moved out of the way.
  • Another option is to have the children arrange the paper tatami to create the flooring for a 4 ½ -mat or 6-mat tatami tea room.

Printable forms of these documents: AP6 Tatami Mat Measuring, AP7 Paper Tatami and Lesson Plan: Paper Tatami

Tea in a Box© 2007, Washington and Lee University