Tessellations

by Early Math Counts

At the Museum of Math there is an exhibit about tessellations.  Do you know what a tessellation is?

A tessellation is created when a plane is covered by repeating shapes that leave no gaps or overlays. Tile floors are tessellations as are honeycombs.  You can tessellate with very simple shapes (rectangles and triangles) as well as extremely complicated ones.  The artist M. C. Escher is known for using extremely complex shapes to create tessellations that are also optical illusions. What do you see in the pictures below.  Do you see white birds and white horses?  What happens when you look for black birds and black horses?  Do you see those?

Notice how the shapes cover the entire surface of the plane but do not leave any spaces.  At the Museum of Math, there are buckets of shapes that fit together to create tessellations.  Tessellations would make really interesting puzzles for children who enjoy complicated spatial activities.  Do you have any examples of tessellations in your classroom?

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