What are tessellating shapes?

Tessellating shapes
We explain what tessellating shapes are and why tessellation may be taught in primary school as part of learning about 2D shapes.
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What is tessellation?

Tessellation is when shapes fit together exactly with no gaps. Here are some examples of tessellating shapes:


        
Learning about tessellation can be a fun activity to try when teaching primary-school aged children about 2D shapes. For example, children may be asked to cut out several regular hexagons and see if they can make them tessellate. They could also be given dotty paper to draw their own tessellating shapes.


Tessellations were used in Ancient Rome and Islamic art, so tessellation activities may be given to children who are learning about these topics. Tessellation provides opportunities for children to produce art work with cross-curricular links to maths and history.

A very difficult challenge would be to ask a child to make two different shapes that will tessellate together in some way, similar to the middle diagram.

Use our tessellating shapes activity to get hands-on with shapes at home with your child.