Math Art Activity: Tessellations

Math Art is a great way to combine subjects. Be creative!

If you’re looking for a math art activity I highly recommend teaching your kids about Tessellations! Tessellations are repetitive patterns of  shapes that fit perfectly together across a 2-dimensional plane of space (think of how floor tiles fit together, or the graphic artist M.C. Escher). Creating tessellations is the perfect project for someone like my 8 year old, who loves fun math activities, yet needs a little extra encouragement when it comes to art: it’s creative but still systematic. You can use regular shapes like diamonds or other polygons, but it’s much more fun to make patterns with an irregular shape.

How to make tessellations:

How to Make Tessellations with Kids

The first thing you need is a square of heavy paper. I (cleverly) stuck a post-it on card stock to help my son cut a regular square.

Tessellation Activity instructions

Next:

  1. Draw two lines from corner to corner with the starting points of both lines in the same corner. It is not important that these lines are identical or of a certain arc. The only important quality is that they start and end in a corner.
  2. Cut along the lines.
  3. Tape the cutout segments to the opposite sides of the square.
  4. Use pattern (our resembled a gingko leaf!) to trace shape onto paper, fitting each new shape along the outline of the previous one.

Finally, once you’ve satisfactorily filled up your paper, color it in to your heart’s desire!

Math Activity: tessellation coloring activity

Kiddo decided to use his neon colored pencils and we ended up with some very bright artwork!

Want more creative math ideas for kids? Check out my 25 math activities for after school learning or our list of chapter books about math.

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Comments

  1. What a great way to illustrate how they work! You could also break out some of Escher’s works to show the possibilities.

  2. This is a great idea and a great post! Thank you! I think I’ll start making some of these for my son to start coloring in. :)

  3. Wow, I always wondered what tessellations were. Weren’t they in A Wrinkle in Time? or one of those books in that series? I love your art idea where art meets math! I’m pinning and tweeting!

  4. This is awesome! I’ll definitely try it with my kids!

  5. I can’t believe how great this project is! This is definitely a keeper. Thanks for the math/art inspiration.

  6. What a great way to introduce tessalations – thanks!
    (oh, and sticky note is clever :)

  7. I do this at the end of the school year but have my middle school students color with fabric crayons. I then I iron their work onto a twin flat sheet and we make a tessellation quilt as a mini school.

  8. Just to let you know I’ve featured this on The Sunday Showcase: http://www.herecomethegirlsblog.com/2013/03/02/the-sunday-showcase-art.html

  9. This is such a great idea! Thanks for sharing.

  10. Very fun way to learn! Thanks for sharing at Mom’s Library!

  11. I find it impressive that your son stuck with it. Maybe my daughter will too when she is 8 :)

  12. Featuring this at the Discover & Explore round-up this week! We just did a tessellation activity last week too (with a surprise type of media) – they are so much fun for kids :)

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