How to Tessellate

Written by kirsten anderberg
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How to Tessellate
Learn to recognise tessellations in the world around you after reading tutorials about tessellations online. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Tessellations are patterns of polygons which do not overlap or leave gaps between the polygons in the pattern. Examples of tessellations are corncobs, honeycombs and floor tiles. Learning how to tessellate increases spatial abilities while also teaching students practical mathematic, geometric and design principles. Tessellation projects have an art component, utilising colours and shapes, which makes tessellating a fun form of play, as well.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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  1. 1

    Take the online tutorial at CoolMath, which has colourful graphics and clear instructions about the creation of tessellations. Print out some of the tessellation colouring pages at CoolMath and practice colouring pre-made tessellations to become comfortable with the way they work. Print several copies of one tessellation pattern, then colour the copies with different colour patterns to see patterns within the original pattern emerge through colouring.

    How to Tessellate
    Colour in tessellation colouring pages using crayons, coloured pencils or markers. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)
  2. 2

    Visit Tessellation Town and create a whole town full of tessellations. Begin by tessellating different coloured people figures into several different interlocking patterns, then move on to tessellating different coloured houses. Tessellating floor tiles, flowers and trees, coloured fish, seaweed and water, animals and tutorials help teach how to tessellate using patterns of colours and shapes in Tessellation Town. You can also play Escher art puzzle tessellation games on this site.

    How to Tessellate
    Tessellate houses, flowers, trees, fish, animals and people playing the game Tessellation Town. (Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)
  3. 3

    Ccreate your own tessellations using a tool at Arcytech's website. Drop and drag yellow hexagons, green triangles, orange squares and three more polygons onto a background grid of tessellated triangles to create original tessellations which can also be printed out. Play with different patterns of colour and shapes to learn behaviours unique to the different shapes. The Shodor website allows players to manipulate the number of edges and corners and colour of shapes for online tessellations and also has tutorials under the Instructor tab.

    How to Tessellate
    Learn to create your own tessellations using online tools. (Jupiterimages/ Images)
  4. 4

    Create your own paper tessellations using a tutorial at This tutorial uses original shapes that are cut then taped into new patterns to create unique-shaped tessellations. Read a webpage about identifying tessellations in the world around you at Shodor's site, then go on a scavenger hunt to find tessellations inside or outside.

    How to Tessellate
    Pineapples are an example of real world tessellations that can be found while playing a tessellations scavenger hunt. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)
  5. 5

    Test your tessellation pattern recognition skills by playing an online tessellation jigsaw puzzle. Drag and drop the puzzle pieces into the correct positions within two minutes to win the game. Construct tessellation puzzles with cut out shapes and directions to make your own tessellating shapes from the National Security Administration's Academia site.

    How to Tessellate
    Cut out tessellating shapes then make different tessellations as puzzles. (George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

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