Terrific Tessellating Brownies
Remember how I said in the Homemade Pop Tarts post that I love teaching math through cooking? Well, this time I'm taking it up a couple levels! Today I've got a complete math lesson with a worksheet and even a baking lesson to go along with it. If you really want to have more fun with this, you can include an art lesson with it, too! At the end of the recipe for the Terrific Tessellating Brownies I have several ideas for how you can extend the lesson on tessellations.
Tessellations are included in geometry because they are patterns of repeating shapes. Tessellations are a pattern of repeating shapes. They are made up of polygons which are shapes with 3 or more closed sides. A triangle is a polygon, but a circle is not. You might even find some tessellations at home. Take your kids on a quick treasure hunt around the house or neighborhood to see if they can find the similarities in bathroom tile, a soccer ball, or a chainlink fence. (Pictures online work great, too!) After a simple introduction of tessellations you can jump right into the delicious part of this math lesson!
You can follow along with my simple lesson here or grab the book that inspired it all for me - "Eat Your Math Homework." There are lots of fun lessons in this book including fractions, tangrams, and variables. If you're homeschooling this year and trying to add some fun, hands-on lessons, then I would really recommend this book. The lessons have been fun for all of my kids from kindergarten to middle school. You can even build off of the lessons with art studies, the history of mathematicians, and cooking skills. When I'm doing a hands-on lesson for my kids I love being able to incorporate several subjects at once.
The list of supplies for this Terrific Tessellating Math Lesson is nice and short:
Brownie Mix (homemade is fine, too!)
Candies for Decorating (optional)
Involve the kids as much as you can with the whole baking process. Measuring ingredients is a wonderful lesson for little kids! Bake the brownies (box mix or favorite homemade recipe) according to the directions but make sure you bake it in a rectangle pan. Grease the pan well so the brownies come out easily after slicing. The brownies might end up a little thinner than you're used to but you need to be able slice the "tessellating" brownies into equal triangles.
When the brownies are done baking and have cooled, slice them into two smaller squares or rectangles. This will be slightly different depending on the size of your baking pan. Then sprinkle powdered sugar onto one half of the brownies. Cut the powdered half into squares then carefully cut each square to form two triangles. The brownies might be crumbly so cut them as gently as possible. Then cut the side without powdered sugar the same way.
You now have terrific tessellating brownies and it's time to let the kids play with their food! Place one powdered sugar triangle and one plain triangle together to make a tessellating design. We wanted to make a butterfly but as we placed the pieces together we ended up seeing a fish and a star. I let the kids play with the shapes and create different designs. (Do this gently so the brownies don't fall apart!) We eventually got out mini M&Ms and regular M&Ms to do some decorating, too.
As the kids played with creating tessellations I read to them about cool places tessellations can be found in the world. Maybe your kids have seen a honeycomb before? Or maybe they have admired a rug in a beautiful mosaic pattern? Tessellations also have a rich history and can sometimes be seen in medieval architecture. The more we researched and read, the more interested we were in tessellations. They're not just a part of geometry, but they're in the world all around us!
Read just a little further to find several links and ideas to learn more about tessellations!
*If you'd like to make this a full math lesson, print out the following worksheet to really get your kids asking great questions and to make sure they understand the concept of geometry and tessellations.
Fun ways to extend this lesson into other subjects:
Teach about the 3 different triangles: equilateral, isosceles, scalene.
Cut out several triangle pieces in different colors and see if you can get them to tessellate.
Print out tessellation coloring pages to let little kids doodle while listening and let older kids come up with their own unique patterns.
Read about the history of tessellations and learn more about this part of geometry.
Visit the official website of Maurits Cornelius Escher and learn more about his inspiration to create art through tessellations.
M.C. Escher once said "We adore chaos because we love to produce order." I can't wait to see the wonderful chaos and order you create with your Terrific Tessellating Brownies!
“We adore chaos because we love to produce order.“We adore chaos because we love to produce order