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Fish Tessellation

Tessellations for kids have much to teach about art and math, but need clear guide lines to keep students from jumbling up their cut out shapes.

tessellations for kids

My tessellation process shown in my diagram comes from many hours of figuring out how to work with a large group (35 or more) students and have as many as possible understand that they need to SLIDE their cut out shapes around, and not flip any over before taping together. The writing of letters in each corner really helps to do just that. To add another level of checking, try using some heavy paper that is colored differently on each side. Students can double check that the colors all match up before taping their tessellation together.

• Drawing paper, 9″ x 12″
• Chipboard square, 3″ wide
• Masking tape
• Black marker
• Crayons


1. Start with a card stock square, at least 3″ wide. Label the four corners. Measure and mark the middle of each side of the square.
2. On the top right corner, draw and cut out a curve, leaving a little flat space that I call the “nose”.
3. Flop the top curve piece and trace to make a symmetrical version below. Cut out the shape.
4. Both curved shapes are aligned and slide to the back of the square as shown. Tape in place. It is VERY important that the numbers read as shown as flopped and rotated shapes will not fit together when complete.
5. Cut one equilateral triangle from the bottom of the shape. It is slid to the top, aligned with the front of the fish and taped in place.
6. Place your fish on at least a 9″ x 12″ drawing paper, and trace. It’s best to make one row going across the paper first, and then add rows on top, always interlocking the shapes when tracing. Lastly, trace the lines in black marker and color with crayon. See artwork by M.C. Escher to get inspired for more complex tessellations.





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