Level II-Lesson 8: Tessellations: Repeating a Pattern to Create Original Art
Learn to draw a pattern while using some simple mathematical concepts
The lesson is suitable for students in grade 3 through adult.
Art Lesson Description:
Ancient Romans liked to decorate their homes with mosaics—pictures made of small pieces of stone. They called these pieces of stone tessera, the Latin word from which we get the word “tessellation,” meaning a repeated pattern. The lesson begins with a history of tessellations, and gets students hunting for tessellations in their own environment.
The art lesson itself has two parts. In the first part we learn what makes a "true" tessellation and use pentominoes to apply what we have learned. In the second part, swe alter the shape of a square and turn the new shape into a tessellation. It's an invitation to a lot of imagination and fun!
The lesson ends with pictures of Turkish architecture to show more examples of the uses of pattern.
This lesson includes both POWERPOINT and VIDEO versions of the lesson plus 3 downloadable printouts: a pentomino printout, a pentomino grid, and a printout of 3" squares.
List of Supplies for Each Student:
- 1 printout of the “Pentomino Printout” (this comes with the lesson)
- 1 printout of the “Pentomino Grid” (this comes with the lesson)
- 1 printout of the “3-inch (7.6 Centimeter) Squares” (this comes with the lesson)
- 1 #2 pencil
- 1 scissors
- Fine tipped permanent black marker
- Washable colored markers
- 11" x 14" drawing paper
- 1 eraser
Suggestions for Cross-Curricular Connections:
Social Studies: Study Roman mosaics and architecture.
- Read more about Roman mosaics and how they were made
- Watch a video that shows dozens of Roman mosaics
- Watch a Tour through Ancient Rome in 320 C.E.--with details about life in Rome during the time of Constantine
- Watch a video of A Day In The Life... Of A 10-Year-Old In Roman Britain
- Science: Learn how mosaics are helping scientists track endangered fish
- Learn about Roman numerals
- Find out the meaning of the letters in Roman numerals at
- Learn about the relationship between math and tessellations
- Connect Escher, tessellations, and math at Math is Fun
- Escher once said, "For me it remains an open question whether [his work] pertains to the realm of mathematics or to that of art. Learn more about him
- Drag and click tesselations at this interactive site
- Get ideas that quickly expand how you might complete the lesson
- Learn from one mother's ideas about making tesselations
- Religion: learn how religious beliefs may affect the kinds of tesselations people draw
- Find some exciting tessellations done by Andrew Crompton to get ideas for your own designs.
- Find interesting connections between tesselations and origami
- Watch these videos about Escher's tessellations. You'll find them very inspiring!
- Create tessellations online.
- Play the puzzle game, Pentominoes.
- Find inspiring ideas for your art project.
Approximate Time to Complete the Art Class:
- Making a tessellation from triangles: 25 minutes
- Using a design inside a square to create a tessellation: 35 minutes
- Total time: 60 minutes