Remember those Magic Eye books from the '80's? I always loved looking at the pictures and thought of them as just that: pictures, art. It wasn't until I saw the term: tessellation in our fourth grade math book, that I realized these patterns were actually math!
There are four main types of tessellations used in a 2-D plane: translation, reflection, rotation, and glide reflection. A translation is a shape that is translated or slid across the page to fit and repeat. It does not turn or flip. A rotation is spinning the pattern around a point, rotating it. We have fun learning these tessellations by dancing them! I call out, "Translate 2 steps to the left. . . rotate 90 degrees to the right. . . reflect!" So fun (and funny) to watch students dance these basic moves while learning geometry terminology!
After they understand the types of tessellations, it's time to create some on paper. Below are directions for two types of tessellations: translation (slide) and rotation.
I love how tessellations utilize two of the Standards of Mathematical Practice:
- Look for and make use of structure
- Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.