Lesson Plan

Progressive Tessellations-Masterpieces that come to Life!

Students will explore various tessellations designed by MC Escher and create their own tessellation.
Jim V.
Classroom teacher
Marshall Elementary School
Wexford, United States
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My Grades K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
My Subjects English Language Arts, Math, Science

Students will be able to...

  • Be introduced to the artist M.C. Escher

  • Explain and identify a tessellation

  • Design an Escher-like tessellation from a cardstock shape

  • Express their ideas artistically, use creative thinking, and demonstrate visual and spatial perception

English Language Arts
Social Studies
Grades 3 – 5
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes


Begin the lesson by viewing the following video that shows various real world tessellations: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9uYcnjlAks

Open a discussion on tessellations and ask students to define what makes an object tessellate.

Allow students time to explore M.C. Escher's website: http://www.mcescher.com/


Free, Paid

Using Nearpod, introduce students to the meaning of a tessellation and about M.C. Escher.  Be sure to ask questions to deepen their understand and encourage students to share their insights on Escher's work. (Nearpod: https://app.nearpod.com/presentation?pin=DB46735E717BF92020B08697D34F3372-1)

To do a simple check on students' understanding of a tessellation, have them try to determine which is or is not a tessellation using the PowerPoint.  Here is the link to download the PPT and the answers are posted below:

Image 1- no, due to overlap
Image 2- yes
Image 3- yes
Image 4- yes
Image 5- no, due to gaps
Image 6- no, due to overlap (tail of orange cat)
Image 7- yes
Image 8- yes, if you allow for tessellations to divide surfaces that are not planar
Image 9- yes
Image 10- yes
Image 11- no, due to the air and water (they have no shape, and can therefore be considered a gap in the drawing)


Prior to students creating their final tessellation project, I recommend that students practice making their own tessellation with a post-it note and a piece of paper.  Have  students practice cutting the square and tracing the shape so there is no overlapping or spaces.  It will also be beneficial for students to practice using iMotion.  Tell students to document every step of their practice tessellation by taking pictures manually with iMotion.  If a student makes an error when using iMotion, you are able to delete a frame, but you are not able to jump back to a certain point in the series of pictures taken.  You are only able to start at the beginning or end of the series of pictures taken.  

The  goal for using iMotion is to see a progressive development of the entire tessellation--from the initial square to the final colored picture.


Allow students to begin their final tessellation project when they are ready.  Give students a 3" x 3" oak tag paper square and a piece of poster paper.  Remind students to document every step of their tessellation project.  Also, be  sure students use the manual feature when taking pictures.

Monitor and assist students throughout the creation of the  tessellation and iMotion picture series.

When students have finished the tessellation and iMotion project, publish their projects into a video and be sure to choose an appropriate viewing speed.  Students will be eager to see their tessellation come to life from the beginning square to the final colored project!


Once all students's tessellations have been published, have students show their tessellation video through iMotion.  Create an art viewing party or gallery walk to display the iMotion videos and final tessellation projects.  Encourage students to identify the original tessellating piece as well as share their opinions on the art work.