We’re back with another STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) series!  This time it’s Summer STEAM Camp. We will be joining up with some other fabulous bloggers over the next few weeks to bring you simple STEAM projects centered around the five senses.  This week’s theme is SEE.

I decided to explore tessellations.  A tessellation is a shape that can be repeated over and over in a pattern.  The way I explained it to the boys was that the shape needs to fit together like a puzzle, with no white space in between the pieces.

In this post, we’ll show you how to create a lizard tessellation puzzle in the style of M. C. Escher, and at the bottom of the post you can print three simple tessellation shapes to color and cut out.

This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Print and Color Tessellation Puzzles

When I think of tessellations, I immediately think of the artist M. C. Escher.

I found a lizard template to print (in the style of Escher), and we had fun making our own lizard tessellations!

Step 1:  Print the lizard template here.  I made several copies, and the boys all colored lizards – from age 3 to age almost 12.  The beauty of this project is that even a three year old can color a lizard, and any stray marks will be eliminated when you cut it out.

Print and Color Tessellations Puzzles

Step 2:  Cut out your lizards.  Tedious, yes.  And probably a job for mature cutters only, because it needs to be precise.

Step 3:  Choose a method for displaying your tessellation.  Because of the complexity of this lizard design, I wanted to create a puzzle that the boys could do over and over.  BUT, the lizards curled when we cut them out, making it difficult to fit them together.  I decided to laminate them.  Jordan got me a Scotch Thermal Laminator for Christmas, and I have found it to be very useful.  Cutting out the laminated lizards added more time to this project, but it was so worth it! Now we have all these durable colorful lizards.  The boys just keep looking at them and exploring them.  I’m sure that we will use them for more than just this activity – one of the boys already suggested a hide-and-seek game with them.

Another option for making them more sturdy is to print the lizards on card stock.

Print and Color Tessellations Puzzles

If you don’t feel the need to assemble your puzzle multiple times, gluing the lizards onto poster board would be the simplest option for display.

This is how they fit together.  So amazing!

Print and Color Tessellation Puzzles

Puzzle Tip:  The laminated lizards hold up well, but they are slippery.  I put some contact paper sticky side up on our LEGO table, attaching it to the table with painter’s tape.  Now the boys can do the puzzle without worrying about bumping the lizards.

Print and Color Tessellations Puzzles

We also explored making our own tessellation shapes.  An easy way to do this is to use pattern blocks.  A rhombus will tessellate, for example, so any shape that you build with rhombus tiles will tessellate also.

Print and Color Tessellations Puzzles

Print and Color Tessellations Puzzles

We cut this shape out of construction paper and then built a puzzle!  (As you can see, accurate cutting is a must.  But the kids were able to get close enough that they could appreciate the pattern.)

Print and Color Tessellations Puzzles

This shape was my favorite.

Print and Color Tessellations Puzzles

We made several copies of this one and created a family work of art:

Print and Color Tessellation Puzzles

Isn’t that fun?  This truly was a fun family project!  If I get the time (ha ha – we’ll see!), I’d love to make some more of this shape to laminate.  It would be a great quiet activity for Jonathan to build the puzzle while we’re doing our homeschool work.

Click here to print the two shapes above, plus one more:  Simple Tessellation Shapes

Summer STEAM Camp

Be sure to stop by the rest of the posts in the Summer STEAM Camp series!

Magnetic Field Sensory Bottle from Left Brain Craft Brain

How to Make a Simple Kaleidoscope from Little Bins for Little Hands

How to Make a Simple Magnifying Glass from One Time Through

Number Chart Art for Kids from Pink Stripey Socks

6 Comments

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  1. Anne Jun 5, 2015

    These are so fun! I'm a huge Escher fan and never thought to make our own puzzles.

    Reply
    1. sarahelisabeth Jun 5, 2015

      We have made several hexagonal tessellations but nothing this complex. A helpful summer idea-thank you.

      Reply
      1. Leslie Jun 6, 2015

        I love this activity! What a great way to combine art with math. :) Pinned! (And definitely will try this with my son once he gets older!)

        Reply
        1. Sandra Jun 6, 2015

          What a great job you did producing the template! Thank you and thanks for sharing!

          Reply
          1. Leslie Guhl Jun 7, 2017

            You can actually make a tessellation from any rectangle. See the instructions here: https://www.math.nmsu.edu/~pmorandi/math112f00/EscherRectangle.html

            Reply
            1. Ashlee E Watson Dec 8, 2018

              I love your website! As a Grade 4 teacher, I love how your activities are FREE for me, not requiring me to buy a bunch of materials. And I love how it is NO prep! I have used your other article about 5 STEM activities with the clothes pins and Popsicle sticks for about 2 months with my class, they love it! And now, I will certainly be using this one again as it is awesome, no prep & so creative. Thank you!

              Reply
              1. Sarah Dec 10, 2018

                Thank you for your encouraging comment! That made my day! I'll keep thinking of new ideas. :-) :-)

                Reply

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