Friday, October 31, 2008


A geometric tessellation covers a plane with a pattern of shapes in such a way that no region is left uncovered.I'm not sure how I happened across this blog, Julie K in Taiwan, but hats off for this great idea: Art Lesson: M.C. Escher. Check it out. It's great fun and doesn't take long.

Art and math and ghosts, oh my! Who can resist?

The fine young gents, that's who.

To my cheerful suggestion that we do a fun Halloween project: "Do we haaave to?"

"Yes. You have to. Or I'll make you do math." (horrified gasps)

Actually, I kind of have this desire to instill a love of learning and all of that happy sunshine. So I didn't really threaten them with math. I just replied, "Yes."

Once we got started, the not-so-fine young gents became fine and dandy. Then kindergarten gent began to fuss and moan. Finally he said in frustration, "But I can't do it perfect!"

Okay. He's right. It's not perfect. And I'm not about to tell him that it is perfect because he'd know it was a lie. So I told him it was total crap and he had to start over. There it is, that love of learning thing again.

Not really. I really told my fine young perfectionist The Rules, honed by his fine perfectionist older brother. They don't take after me, by the way.

Nuh uh. Do not.

Do not!

The Rules

Give it a try.

Do your best.

Ask for help.

Give yourself a break.

"Did you try?" Yes, he nodded. "Do your best?" Nod. "All right, then give yourself a break. You've done exactly what you're supposed to. Need help?" Another nod.

Turns out the littlest gent was not as interested in tesselations as he was flying chess pieces around the room and rolling on the floor with the cat. I'd been making a tesselation page for him to color. Instead, I told frustrated kindergarten gent to keep trying, and when I was done tracing my page we'd trade.

Look at that face.

I'd wondered from the beginning if the project might be a little much for his emerging fine motor skills, anyway, and so it was. But then again, if we only give our children the things we are certain they can accomplish, they rarely face new challenges, don't get the opportunity to work through frustration, and they don't get to surprise us with abilities we'd never suspected.

It all worked out. Kindergarten gent was delighted by the black-and-white faces in Julie K's example, so he spent a good amount of time copying them with his own little twists. The youngest gent decided he wanted to get in on the fun too and happily drew little ghost faces on his brother's rejected artwork.

More on tessellations:

What is Tessellation?
Tessellation Tutorials
(Both from

Tessellations with Technology include a 30-second video on tessellations, definitions and elementary lesson plans

Tantalizing Tessellations, a series of ten upper elementary lessons on tessellations


Anonymous said...

Good job guys! I'm glad you had fun (eventually) ;)

Here's another fun tesselation link:

karisma said...

Well I hope he had fun with it in the long run!