Tessellations (Geometry)

Time Required: One 45-minute session
Skill Level: Intermediate
Recommended Grades: 3rd to 5th

In this activity, students will work in pairs to cover a 3D shape in a tessellation. Students will use visualization, spatial reasoning and geometric modeling to solve a problem through design. Students must recognize geometric shapes and relationships, analyze them and apply them to this novel task.

Note: Any links outside of the3doodler.com are optional resources. We can’t ensure their upkeep or accuracy.

Lesson Plan


Step 1

Wrap Up

Students will share tessellated 3D shapes along with feedback to the whole group. Ask students if some shapes are better for covering in a tessellation than others? Why? Students will share on Twitter at #3DoodlerEDU


Teacher will assess students’ work based on their tessellated 3D shapes and comments.

Possible Extensions

Students attempt to cover actual objects with a tessellation, like a tissue box, a large wooden block, stacked Legos, a toothpaste box, a paper towel roll, a soda can, a tennis ball, a coffee mug, etc. Example


  • tessellation - a set of repeating symmetrical shapes without any overlaps or gaps, which completely covers a surface.

Educational Standards

Common Core

Compose two-dimensional shapes (rectangles, squares, trapezoids, triangles, half-circles, and quarter-circles) or three-dimensional shapes (cubes, right rectangular prisms, right circular cones, and right circular cylinders) to create a composite shape, and compose new shapes from the composite shape.

In This Lesson

Students will create tessellations based on composites of 2D shapes. Students will create 3D shapes out of composite 2D shape templates.

Common Core

Pose and respond to specific questions to clarify or follow up on information, and make comments that contribute to the discussion and link to the remarks of others.

In This Lesson

Students will participate in discussions with the whole group before and after this activity.

Next Gen Science

Engineering Design Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.

In This Lesson

Students will create a tessellation to cover a template of a 3D shape. Students will follow specified criteria, e.g., use 2-3 shapes for tessellation.

Next Gen Science

Engineering Design Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.

In This Lesson

After activity, students will determine if some 3D shapes are better for covering with tessellations than others.

CS Teachers

Plan and create a design document to illustrate thoughts, ideas, and stories in a sequential (step-by-step) manner (e.g., story map, storyboard, sequential graphic organizer).

In This Lesson

Students will create a stencil design of their tessellations before 3Doodling.

CS Teachers

Decompose (break down) a larger problem into smaller sub-problems with teacher guidance or independently.

In This Lesson

Students will break down the process of covering a 3D shape with a tessellation by making, predictions, analyzing its composition of 3D shapes, designing stencils and covering the 3D stencil with a 3Doodler.


Use technology to seek feedback that informs and improves their practice and to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways.

In This Lesson

Students will use the 3Doodler to visually demonstrate how tessellations can cover a 3D shape.


Exhibit a tolerance for ambiguity, perseverance and the capacity to work with open-ended problems.

In This Lesson

Students will demonstrate willingness and competency within an open-ended task with more than one possible outcome.


Create original works or responsibly repurpose or remix digital resources into new creations.

In This Lesson

Students will use a 3Doodler to design a 3D shape covered in a tessellation.


Use collaborative technologies to work with others, including peers, experts or community members, to examine issues and problems from multiple viewpoints.

In This Lesson

Students will use a 3Doodler to cover a 3D shape with a tessellation, consulting with peers before, during and after this investigation.

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