Lesson Plan: Medieval Ages Beasties  Tessellations  

Medieval TessellationsUNIT: TESSELLATIONS
Tessellation using technology below The major focus of this lesson is to surreptitiously introduce the teaching of math concepts across the curriculum.
OBJECTIVE / OUTCOME: The student will produce a tessellation of original design, developed using an equilateral triangle, where three unique symmetrical faces rotate through out their creation.
The student will effectively use shape, pattern/repetition and color to create a striking composition.
The student will use imagination in creating a "beastie" inspired by bestiaries of the Middle Ages.
MOTIVATION / EXEMPLARS: The art of M C Escher and the mosaic designs of the early Moorish Mosques are excellent examples that can serve to motivate students and serve as historical exemplars.
Additional Resources: Video: "Gargoyle: Guardians of the Gate" Internet Lesson: M.C. Escher and Tessellation
VOCABULARY FOR TESSELLATIONS
4.) Each of the three faces should somehow fill the entire space available. This is best done in a creative manner, for example  the hair on one head can become the fur collar on the next face when viewed from a different perspective. Another two faces might share lines and shapes that viewed one way looks like the crown of a queen, but from another angle becomes the shirt of a sailor. The most difficult problem is utilizing the space in the center, of the triangle, between the three heads. It should not be left empty. It works best when somehow the shapes of the three Â½ faces blend together to fill this space.
Note: My students drew Medieval beasties. Students were encouraged to have one shape /form merge with another.
5.) After the three faces inside one triangle are finished, the lines should be darkened. (This makes them easier to trace and they will copy much better, later on the copy machine). Next carefully fold the paper so that the two triangles line up precisely as seen through the folded paper. Explain to the students that they are folding the rhombus on the centerline and that the edges of the paper itself will, most likely, not line up. At this point the students should carefully trace the image of the first triangle onto the second. This traced reflection should be an exact copy (as much as possible) in order for later Xeroxed copies to match up with each other. A more dramatic and visually striking design will be produced if the students also darken in areas in the design. This too must be symmetrical.
6.) If you Have access to a good Xerox machine, twelve copies should be made of each design. If the students put their name outside the triangles, their name will be on every copy made. When cutting out the 12 rhombus shapes, do it carefully and exact, one at a time. They must be as precise as possible.
7.) Practice laying out the design before trying to glue it down. Arrange 6 shapes into a sixpointed star first. Then the remaining shapes should fit in between the points of the star to create a hexagon. Of course if you made more copies and had a larger surface to cover, you could have your design continue on and on.
Glue shapes down carefully, making sure they match. You may need to adjust shapes or overlap a bit to make everything fit. Each error in drawing, folding, tracing, copying, and cutting multiplies the problems in getting the final design sections to align.
PROBLEMS The image (Rhombus/Triangles) sometimes seem to get stretched while they are being copied in the machine. The teacher needs to be aware of this and watch for the problem. Make the students aware also so they do not become frustrated with their own abilities. In a perfect geometric world, it should work.
ADDING COLOR  Colored markers make these tessellations really look fantastic. To do the color correctly (tessellate the colors also) each time a shape repeats in the design, the color should repeat as well.
MATERIALS NEEDED 
REFERENCES  The World of M C Escher, M C Escher & J L Locher, 1971, Harry Abrams, Inc, New York Introduction to Tessellations, Dale Seymore & Jill Britton, 1989, Dale Seymore Publications, Palo Alto
ONGOING ASSESSMENT 
FINAL ASSESSMENT 
INFORMATION ON THIS AND OTHER LESSONS 
My student work: This student's work is different from everyone else's in more than one way. He wanted to feature each of the three beasties in the center of his rhombus  but he still had to meet the requirement of reflection. It took some problem solving for Chris but he decided to make the space around the beasties reflect. See detail one, detail two and detail three.
Tessellations with Jim McNeill When students were finished coloring their triangle tessellations, they moved right on into a construction paper assignment using the posters designed by artist, Jim McNeill for Crystal Productions. Students had already been introduced to Jim McNeill via the Internet (Know the Artist: Jim McNeill). Students had many questions for Mr. McNeill as they worked on their project. We had several email exchanges. Jim really enjoys working with kids. This assignment did not count as much as the beastie project and students who were "stragglers" finished it as a homework assignment. Many of the students had already done similar tessellations in math class (theirs were done with Colored Pencils  while ours was done with cut construction paper so they would have a different experience).
Materials/Resources: Video: Tessellations: How to Create Them. If Amazon is sold out of this video, you can also buy it at Crystal Productions. Know the Artist: Jim McNeill Assorted colors 12"x18" (30.5 x 46 cm) Construction Paper, 3" square Tag board (or index cards cut to 3" square), Drawing Pencils/Magic Rub Erasers, tape, Scissors, White Glue, Sharpie Fine Point Markers
Title: Tessellation using Technology
In my high school graphic art classes, I incorporate tessellations into my lessons on positive negative space in layouts. We usually all work around the table first before moving to the computer. I hand out paper squares, scissors, pencil, and scotch tape. I walk them through the process of creating a free form tessellating shape from their square.
Then we have fun trying to use our imaginations to turn the shapes into something recognizable. So the kids help each other and you hear comments like, "That looks like a turtle playing football!" I facilitate by trying to help the less creative students see their shapes. Believe it or not, I have wiggly eyes on hand. The kids try turning their shape in various ways, then place a wiggly eye or two around and often times they see something instantly! Voila! Inspiration has occurred! Once everyone has an idea, we move to the computers to use Adobe Illustrator to create the 12" x 18" (30.5 x 46 cm) tessellation. Then the technology really comes in handy!
Tessellation Lesson Plans using Technology Kenneth Cole Tessellations: Carolyn Roberts' lessons: Tessellation
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