Exploring Tessellations (Grades K-2)

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In this activity, learners repeat patterns in two and three dimensions to create tessellations. This activity combines the creativity of an art project with the challenge of solving a puzzle. This lesson features three investigations that are appropriate for varying grades and levels.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 4 - 8

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Pattern blocks (multiple sets)
  • Index card 3 in x 5 in
  • Triangle Grid Paper (p.5)
  • Markers
  • Plain paper
  • Pencils
  • Tape
  • Cubes (sugar cubes, wooden block, or any other cubes that are easy to obtain)
  • Rectangular prisms (shoe boxes, toothpaste boxes, tissue boxes—as long as they are all the same size and shape)
  • Cylinders (soda cans, paper towel tubes, soup cans, or any cylinders that are all the same size and shape)
  • Spheres (marbles, tennis balls, or any spheres that are all the same size)
  • Unsharpened pencils (If you rubber band a bunch of pencils together and look at them from the end, you will see a tessellating honeycomb pattern.)
  • Any other groups of identical three-dimensional objects


  • Mathematics
    • Algebra
      • Patterns
    • Geometry
      • Plane Geometry
      • Solid Geometry
    • Representation
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Problem Solving
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations

Informal Categories

  • Arts and Crafts


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Links STEM to other topics of interest such as arts and humanities
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, Exploratorium, 2010

Funding Sources:

  • National Science Foundation
  • Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation