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[teacherartexchange] tessellations/Escher


From: Nancy Walkup (nwalkup_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sun Oct 02 2005 - 08:23:01 PDT

On the Ability of Elementary Students to Make Tesselations

Our third grade students are tested by the state on the concept of congruent shapes - repeating shapes that are exactly the same size and shape. Fourth and fifth graders have to know three different kinds of congruent shapes (translations or slides, reflections, and rotation). Tesselations are made from congruent shapes. The simplest congruent shape is a square. With third graders I do tesselations with only one side cut and moved (a slide). Fourth and fifth graders can get more complicated, with two cuts to make their patterns (reflections, rotations). Jim McNeill's demo makes this very clear. If you go step-by-step to have kids make their congruent shape or template, it is not a problem.


-----Original Message-----
From: M. Austin <>
<< My problem with elementary students doing this technique is
getting them to butt the paper up against each other. They tend to want
to overlap the paper and then the tesselations don't work. What do you
all do about this? So far I haven't gotten over 50% comprehension - I
spend two days helping kids tape properly, and fixing those who thought
they knew how to do it.?>>

I am reading that lots of elementary people want to work at this
project with students. My daughter worked with it when she was in
high school and the concepts and application were challenging for her
and her classmates even then. Some math teachers use computer programs
to assist their students in _understanding_ what they are doing (I do
not remember the names, but a search would find you some) But my
confusion is why this would be an appropriate elementary art
experience, given, for instance, Michal's observation of low
comprehension. I am sure she is a fine teacher, but I think her
students are telling her that it is not in their cognitive ballpark...?
just a thought
kathy douglas

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