Leaf Tessellations Activity

2.1 based on 7 ratings
Updated on Sep 17, 2014

Tessellations are repeating shapes that form a pattern without overlapping. Popularized by the famed artist M.C. Escher, these mathematic wonders can help your child to discover concepts that range from geometry to spatial expression.

What You Need:

  • Construction paper
  • Thin cardboard (try reusing an old cereal or shoe box)
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Tempera paint in two different colors
  • Paint palette or washable paint tray
  • Thick paint brush

What You Do:

  1. Ask your child to choose a leaf shape. Keep in mind that in a tessellation there should be no gaps or overlaps, so the shape should be able to fit snugly next to a copy of itself. Have him use a pencil to draw the shape onto the cardboard.
  2. Cut the leaf out. Repeat to make one more identical leaf shape.
  3. Pour two different colors of paint onto a palette or washable art tray. Try fall themed shades such as orange, yellow, red, or brown.
  4. Your child can now dip one of the leaves into one color of paint. Coat the entire side. If needed, he can use a paint brush to coat the leaf completely.
  5. Press the leaf onto the construction paper to create a print.
  6. Repeat the painting and printing steps with the second leaf, choosing a different color.
  7. Press the second leaf onto the paper directly next to the first print.
  8. Repeat back and forth with the two different colors several times, and then move on to a second, third, or even fourth line.
  9. Set aside to dry.

Add some fun (and learning) into your list of fall crafts with this nature inspired activity. Your mini-mathematician can get hands-on with some very abstract ideas by creating his own unique leaves for this printing process project.

Erica Loop has an MS in Applied Developmental Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education. She has many years of teaching experience working in early childhood education, and as an arts educator at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh.

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