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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.)
This shape was my favorite.
We made several copies of this one and created a family work of art:
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
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