Area of Composite Shapes – Formula, Definition With Examples

Welcome back to another enlightening post from Brighterly, your trusted companion for making learning an enjoyable journey for your children. Today, we take on an exciting journey into the world of geometry. We’re focusing on Composite Shapes – a fascinating concept that broadens our understanding of how smaller geometric shapes combine to form more complex figures.

Geometry, being an essential part of our daily lives, is seen in architecture, the design of objects we use, and even patterns in nature. It’s crucial for children to understand these underlying principles that shape the world around us. Here at Brighterly, we believe in breaking down complex concepts into simple, digestible information.

What Are Composite Shapes?

Composite shapes are complex geometric figures that consist of two or more simple geometric shapes. We encounter them on a daily basis, be it in architecture, art, or even nature. Understanding composite shapes can help students visualize how different units of shapes can come together to form larger structures. In this blog post, we will delve into understanding what composite shapes are, how to calculate their area, and practice this with examples.

Definition of Simple Geometric Shapes

Before diving into composite shapes, let’s define what simple geometric shapes are. Simple geometric shapes are the basic shapes that include squares, rectangles, circles, triangles, and so on. These shapes are the building blocks of geometry and are characterized by specific formulas for their area, perimeter, and other properties. For example, the area of a square is found by squaring the length of its side, and the area of a rectangle is found by multiplying its length by its width.

Definition of Composite Shapes

Moving onto composite shapes, these are shapes made up of a combination of two or more simple shapes. The shapes could be any combination of squares, rectangles, circles, triangles, or other simple shapes, and they can be overlapping or adjacent. Composite shapes are often found in design, architecture, and other practical applications. For example, a rectangle combined with a triangle on top forms the shape of a common house.

Properties of Simple Geometric Shapes

Every simple geometric shape has unique properties that define them. For example, a square has all its sides equal and all angles equal to 90 degrees. Similarly, a circle has all points on its edge equidistant from its center, and a triangle has the sum of its interior angles equal to 180 degrees. These properties help in the identification and analysis of these shapes in various mathematical problems.

Properties of Composite Shapes

Composite shapes, on the other hand, do not have a fixed set of properties because their characteristics depend on the simple shapes that compose them. They share the properties of their constituent simple shapes. For example, a composite shape consisting of a square and a rectangle will have some properties of a square and some properties of a rectangle.

Difference Between Simple and Composite Shapes

The primary difference between simple and composite shapes lies in their complexity. Simple shapes have defined properties and formulas for their area and perimeter, while composite shapes depend on the simple shapes they’re composed of. Understanding both simple and composite shapes is crucial in problem-solving scenarios, especially when dealing with spatial awareness and calculations involving area and perimeter.

Formulas for Area of Simple Geometric Shapes

Here are some of the formulas for finding the area of simple geometric shapes:

  • Square: Side length × Side length
  • Rectangle: Length × Width
  • Circle: π × (Radius)^2
  • Triangle: 1/2 × Base × Height

These formulas are fundamental to understanding geometry and are often used in calculations involving composite shapes.

Formula for the Area of Composite Shapes

The formula for the area of composite shapes isn’t fixed like simple shapes because it depends on the shapes it comprises. Generally, the area of a composite shape is found by breaking it down into its simple shapes, calculating the area of each simple shape, and then adding (or subtracting, in some cases) those areas together.

Understanding the Formula for Area of Composite Shapes

To understand the formula for the area of composite shapes, imagine you have a shape that’s made up of a rectangle and a triangle. First, you would find the area of the rectangle (length × width) and the area of the triangle (1/2 × base × height). Then, you would add these areas together to find the total area of the composite shape. This process can be applied to any composite shape.

Computing the Area of Composite Shapes

Now that we understand the process, let’s compute the area of a composite shape. First, identify the simple shapes that make up the composite shape. Then, use the formulas for each simple shape to calculate their areas. Finally, add (or subtract) all these areas to find the area of the composite shape. It may help to draw the shapes and label all necessary dimensions.

Practice Problems on Area of Composite Shapes

It’s time to put our knowledge to the test. Here are a few practice problems on the area of composite shapes:

  1. Find the area of a composite shape made of a square with side 4cm and a rectangle with length 6cm and width 3cm.
  2. Calculate the area of a composite shape consisting of two circles with radius 5cm each and a rectangle with length 8cm and width 2cm.

Remember to break down the shapes, calculate the area of each, and then combine them!


We’ve journeyed through the fascinating world of composite shapes, exploring how they are formed, their properties, and the formulas for their areas. This concept of combining simple shapes to form more complex figures is an essential part of geometrical understanding. Here at Brighterly, we aim to make these complex concepts easy and fun for children, fostering a love for learning and an inquisitive mindset.

Remember, like any other skill, practice makes perfect. We’ve provided practice problems and we encourage learners to solve them and apply the knowledge they’ve gained. Don’t forget to check our other blog posts for more learning resources.

Let’s continue exploring the vast universe of knowledge together, transforming challenges into opportunities for learning and growth. At Brighterly, we make math brighter and learning a delightful experience.

Frequently Asked Questions on Area of Composite Shapes

What is a composite shape?

A composite shape, in the most basic terms, is a geometric figure that’s composed of two or more simple shapes. These could be squares, rectangles, triangles, circles, or any other simple shape. In real life, you can find composite shapes in architectural designs, layout of a park, or even the design of a piece of furniture. It’s essentially seeing how smaller, basic shapes come together to create a more complex form.

How do I calculate the area of a composite shape?

Calculating the area of a composite shape involves a few steps. First, you need to break the composite shape down into its simple shapes. Look for squares, rectangles, circles, and triangles within the composite shape. Next, use the relevant formulas to calculate the area of each simple shape. For instance, the area of a square would be side length squared, and for a rectangle, it would be length times width. Once you have the area of each simple shape, you then add those areas together. That gives you the total area of the composite shape.

Can composite shapes be made of any simple shapes?

Absolutely! A composite shape can be made from any combination of simple shapes. It could be a combination of squares and circles, triangles and rectangles, or even a combination of all simple shapes. This flexibility makes composite shapes incredibly versatile, and you can see a myriad of different composite shapes in real-life applications.

Do composite shapes have a fixed formula for their area?

Unlike simple shapes which have a fixed formula for their area, composite shapes do not have a one-size-fits-all formula. This is because a composite shape can be composed of any combination of simple shapes. Therefore, the formula for calculating the area of a composite shape depends on the simple shapes it’s composed of.

Why is understanding composite shapes important?

Understanding composite shapes is fundamental as it helps children visualize and understand how smaller units, the simple shapes, can come together to form larger structures. This understanding is not only crucial in mathematics but also in other subjects like Art and Design. Besides, it’s a critical skill in daily life. It aids in spatial awareness, problem-solving skills, and develops an understanding of the structures and patterns we see around us daily.

Information Sources
  1. Wikipedia – Area
  2. Wikipedia – Euclidean Geometry
  3. U.S. Department of Education – Helping Your Child Learn Mathematics

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