Tessellation can be such an exciting and motivating way for kids to learn about shape and space. Fitting colored shapes to make a colorful tessellating pattern seems to engage children, which is one of the reasons I love teaching about tessellation. Rather than just give kids tessellating patterns to color, I thought I’d share some of the other activities I use to teach tessellation.
For this activity you will need a range of shapes, you could use cardboard cut outs of shapes or pattern blocks.
- Provide groups of students with an assortment of shapes, for example: squares, rectangles, quadrilaterals, triangles, hexagons, ovals and circles (see picture below).
- Get your students to sort the shapes according to whether they will tessellate or not.
- Just by looking at the shapes, get your students to sort them into three groups: shapes that will tessellate, shapes that might tessellate and shapes that won’t tessellate.
- When the shapes have been sorted, get your students to check if they do tessellate.
- Ask them: what do you need to check to see if a shape will tessellate?
- Ask them: what is different about the shapes that can’t tessellate?
Brick paving designers
For this activity your students will need colored rods or cuisenaire rods. They will also need a sheet of paper.
- Set the task of your students being brick paving designers.
- They need to produce a letter or pamphlet to show a client the different designs possible with their product.
- Students can use the rods as manipulatives to experiment with possible combinations and designs.
- When they have come up with a combination they draw the design in the letter/pamphlet.
- You could further develop this idea by getting your students to use other regular polygons for floor or wall tiling designs.
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