Tessellations are tiled shapes that fit together without overlapping or gaps between the shapes. Students are more apt to grasp the functions and properties of tessellations when using hands-on projects that incorporate play with education. Tessellation projects range from handmade puzzles to art projects and Escher-like tiling games. The use of different shapes and colours help to keep students' attention on tessellation concepts through projects which are highly individualised.
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Paper Cut Tessellation Puzzles
An easy tessellation lesson, which teaches students how to make their own abstract tessellation pattern pieces from paper and tape, is available at the Tessellations.org website. Clear illustrations aid instructions in the technique of drawing, cutting, then assembling tessellation pieces so that they will tessellate seamlessly. Students can produce many of these tessellation pieces, and colour them, to make a hands-on tessellation game. MathCats also has a tutorial that teaches students to make tessellations from wavy lines generated on a computer drawing program.
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Louisiana State University offers a tessellation origami lesson online, which teaches students how to fold several different tessellating patterns in 3-D forms and through fold patterns. Two printable pdf files are available from the Paper Mosaics website that have lines for students to fold on, and transform a piece of paper into a tessellation through folds. A tessellating pattern of hexagons is available at the Origami Tessellations' website. Instructions show students how to tessellate a plane of paper with origami folds in the shape of hexagons. Intricate tessellating folding patterns are also provided on this site.
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Geometric and Bird Tessellation Tile Patterns
Art Projects for Kids has an online lesson that teaches kids how to make Escher-like tessellations. By clicking on the picture of the tessellation art on the site, instructions are provided for the construction of paper birds similar to those used in M.C. Escher artwork tessellations. The pattern allows for the birds to tessellate with heads fitting into tails with internal patterns created by colouring the birds different colours. The National Security Agency has a tessellation game that includes tessellation shapes to cut out, colour and tile like a puzzle.
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Virtual Tessellations and Tessellation Coloring Projects
Create a virtual tessellation by dragging and dropping brightly coloured shapes, such as triangles, squares, parallelograms and hexagons onto a grid online. Experiment with tessellations using geometrical shapes and print the tessellation out and display as art once finished. CoolMath has several tessellations colouring pages for students to create art with colours and shapes in tessellation patterns and Crayola offers a unique tessellation art project using special papers and colouring effects. The Crayola project uses original tessellation shapes which are traced onto special paper, revealing colour patterns underneath.