MAP Lesson Plan
Grade level: 6th Graders in Guatemala   

Project description:

The student will produce a tessellation of original design. They will draw three unique faces on a rhombus that will repeat symmetrically and rotate. The faces will include themselves, a person they respect as an important male figure in their community or family and a person they respect as an important female figure in their community or family. This will show students the importance of gender equality and enhance their self-esteem by visually seeing how they connect to others in the tessellation.


Students will effectively use shape, pattern/repetition and color to create a unique composition.
Students will learn the importance of and connection between themselves and their community and family.
Students will learn about balance, repetition and unity.
Students will learn about and visually represent gender equality.
Students will develop a enhanced sense of self-esteem.


 1.) We begin by drawing symmetrical faces.  I give each student an 8 1/2 x 11 with 4 vertical lines.  They are to draw half of a face (front view) next to each vertical line.  Then they fold on the lines and carefully trace the other side of each face.  Unfolding the paper should produce a complete "symmetrical" face, each side being a reflection of the other.  Even at this point I instruct students to make each face as different as possible from any of the others.  This initial step is an opportunity to develop ideas, and to practice the skill of tracing.  We find the classroom window to be better for this purpose than using a light box. 

2.) Worksheets with two equilateral triangles (rhombus) should be made available to the students next.  Some may start over several times.  The teacher needs to insure that the triangles they are given are as perfect as possible.  Each minor error increases the problem of correctly matching the finished designs into a tessellation.

3.) Students should be instructed to draw three 1/2 faces on the inside edges of "one" triangle only.  The faces should be as different from each other as possible, to provide variety in the design.  I often use as examples - a clown. a cowboy & a little girl (or) an angel, the devil & a monster to begin them thinking about contrast.  The final designs rotate best if each of the three faces points in a different direction.  In other words, if no two tops of heads point toward each other.

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 1/2 faces blend together to fill this space.

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 center line 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 six-pointed 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.

 Face Tessellation Lesson Plan (for all ages)

  • Discuss community and important males and females in the students families and communities.  Within the discussion talk about the importance of gender equity and how it takes all type of people to make up a community.
  • Give each student a rhombus paper with semi-ovals on it.  Instruct them to draw their face in the middle oval and two female half faces and two male half faces.  The faces of the male/females should be of people who are important to them in their family/community.   They can color/decorate the hair and rest of the triangle pieces in any way that they please. 

  • Once students are finished, they may cut out their rhombus.  Students will work together to place their face rhombuses together to make a community of people on the larger Tyvek or bulletin board paper

Younger Elementary Tessellations
  • Discuss the importance of Mayan weavings and the symbols within.  Perhaps the students can teach us something about this!  Show an example of weavings that contain the diamond shape.

  • Give each student a paper and a diamond out of cardstock.  Instruct them to tessellate the shape on their paper until it is filled with diamonds.  Have students decorate the tessellation in the manner that they would like, drawing symbols of their heritage. 

  • Once students are finished, student will glue their creations together to make a “quilt” hanging for the classroom.
Older Elementary Tessellations

  • Discuss tessellations and show pictures of MC Escher and some famous tessellations. 

  • Hold up an empty page of tessellations and ask various students what they “see” in the shapes. Think of their culture, heritage as they do this.

  • Give each student a square out of cardstock and instruct them to cut and shift the cut portion to the other side of the square and tape it.  Do it again with the adjacent side of the square. 

  • Help students tessellate their shape on a piece of 8.5 x 11 computer paper. 
  • Each student should look at their tessellation and decide what it looks like (symbols from Mayan history) and color it in. 

  • Tessellations will be displayed throughout the classroom.