Celebrate the colors of fall with this leaf tessellation project! I think that tessellating shapes are fascinating, and such a fun mix of math and art. A tessellation is defined as a geometric shape that can be arranged in a repeating pattern with no gaps between the tiles and no overlapping. In this post, I’ll show you some tips for helping kids create their own tessellating shape, and then you can also print the leaf shape that I designed. This is a great fall STEM project to do either at home or with a class!
Creating a Shape that Tessellates
One way to create a geometric shape that tessellates is to start with a square or rectangular piece of paper, such as an index card. Cut a shape out of one side, and then attach the piece you cut to the opposite side of the paper. You can see an example of this approach here.
We have found that pattern blocks also work well for creating tessellations. If you create a shape out of smaller shapes that tessellate (triangles, in this case), then your shape will tessellate. This is not entirely foolproof – my first leaf design looked cool but did not tessellate, despite being built entirely of the green triangle shapes. But it didn’t take long to figure out how to make a leaf shape that would tessellate.
(And creating designs that are not supposed to be anything specific are even easier!)
To make my shape as exact as possible, I traced it from a sheet of printable pattern blocks.
Then I outlined it in Sharpie and added some veins to the leaf.
Then I created a page with five of the leaves, so that you can print it and give it to the kids to color.
I cut out all our leaves first, but they probably would have been easier to color on the full page. Older kids will be able to cut these out themselves, but for younger ones you may want to do the cutting so that the leaves will fit together well.
The cool thing about this leaf shape is that it can tessellate in two different ways. You can arrange all of the leaves facing the same direction, or you can alternate rows of right-side-up and upside-down leaves. So cool!
We glued our leaves on a piece of poster board to make a huge collaborative work of art.
Ready to print your leaf tessellations? Click on the link below. The leaf page will open, and you can print from there.
CLICK HERE: Fall Leaf Tessellation
If you want to challenge kids to create their own tessellating shape, you can find the printable pattern block sheets that I used here.
Have fun with math + art!
Nancy Jun 15, 2019
You are awesome! Thanks for sharing your wonderful ideas.
Sue Suplicki Apr 2, 2020
Wow this version is great. I loved the Math link. Although I no longer have children to homeschool my youngest is 24, I run a boys group at church of boys from 7 to 11 and 4 of them homeschool out of the 6. I have always recommended your newsletter to everyone with children. You have such fun practical ideas that work. Thank you for everything you send me. I love the flowers but I think that they would be able to cut the leaf more accurately.
Sophia Aug 31, 2022
Wonderful, creative projects. Looking forward to more tessellation ideas. Thank you.
Becky Sep 2, 2022
Thank you so much for the leaf tesselation. This should be interesting with our pre-k class.
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