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Tessellations and symmetry - 4th grade

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From: Suzanne (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: Mar 20, 1998 at 17:07:24
Subject: Re: Tessellations and symmetry - 4th grade

Melanie,

In teaching transformations with 4th graders I like to use cutout letters.  
It would be great if each child had a cutout letter such as the letter "B" or 
"R". They could trace the letter on the paper and then actually slide it 
across the paper, rotate it around a point, or reflect it over a line of 
symmetry and then retrace to see the relationship between the 2 tracings.  
If you have access to a die cut machine, making construction paper letters is 
very easy. 

I also like to use mirrors in working with symmetry. Students at this age 
think that the letter "N" has vertical symetry, but by placing the mirror on
the letter thay can quickly see that it does not. This would give them some 
background and practice with transformations.

One way that I do tessellations with this age student is to give them access 
to prepared sheets of triangles, hexagons, squares, etc. and let them color 
them, cut them out, and create their own tessellation.

Using pattern blocks is also a fun way for them to get the idea of 
tessellations. If you decide to have them create nonpolygonal tessellations, 
an index card makes a good tracer. I often cut a 3x5 index card in half and 
have them draw a curved line from the top corner of one side to the lower 
corner of the same side, cut on the line, and then slide it to the opposite 
side of the card, tape the cut piece back on and use it for the tracer 
pattern.  They can trace the shape a number of times on a sheet of paper and 
add whatever detail or color they like.  

There are also some great tessellation programs available. I use TesselMania! 
but I use it in junior high. Have fun mixing math and art.

Suzanne

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