Age Range: 7 - 11
By: Debbie Illingworth

It is possible to set up pages in MS Publisher to allow your class to practise tessellating shapes. In addition to consolidating Maths knowledge and understanding, they will be learning the ICT skills of 'drag and drop', rotating and flipping graphics, and refining hand/eye co-ordination by using the mouse to position shapes precisely.

How to set up the pages

  • Open a blank page in Publisher '98 and look along the 'objects toolbar' for the 'custom shapes' tool.


  • Click on the tool and choose a tessellating shape from the selection. Click on your page to draw it the default size, or click and drag, holding down shift to draw a regular shape of any size.


  • Choose a colour from the FILL palette.

Fill Picture

  • Right click with your mouse on the image and choose COPY. Repeat the right click and PASTE the image the required number of times
    (or Ctrl and C to copy, Ctrl + V to paste).

  • Space out the shapes on a page and then set up further pages in the same way using different shapes and colours.

  • Some of the shapes will tessellate only if 'flipped' or rotated. Encourage the children to experiment with these tools.


  • Name the file, save and close it. Locate the file in the directory where you saved it. Right click on the file icon and click properties. Click the 'general' tab and tick the 'read only' box. this will preserve the original file from alterations. The children can still save the work they have done with a different filename.

Example of a tessellating shape page

The children will need to practise rotating and / or flipping the shapes to tessellate these triangles

If they find this difficult at first, the page can be printed out for them to cut up and experiment with the shapes manually.

More able children will enjoy creating their own shapes to tessellate.


Gary Walkington has created a very useful worksheet which links with the above activity. It is in MS Publisher format and allows children to create tessellations using the shapes which are provided in the bottom left hand corner. Children can copy the shapes, paste them lots of times into the large blank area, move them around, and rotate them to create a unique tessellation which they can then print. The worksheet can be downloaded below.



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