I had the kids use 12 square tiles to make as many different rectangles as they could. I showed them that the shape is written like this: 3x4 ("we say 3 by 4"). Then we talked about the area being 12 square inches, and that the x usually means times. By golly, 3x4=12, too. Our newest student, who is 7, thought that was totally funny! She laughed for each one. The 6 by 2 rectangle has an area of 12, and, yep, 6x2=12. Hee hee hee.
The size of the rectangle turns out to be the same as a multiplication problem! Imagine that... She made my day.