Then, I laid them out on the table, in a tessellating pattern, with a couple of extra boxes, a ruler, pencils, and scissors, in case anyone wanted to add shapes of their own.
Fridays are supposed to be completely unschooled, or our day off, as the children like to call it, so I didn't offer any kind of instruction, or activity with the shapes. Though, earlier in the week we had watched the Cyberchase episode entitled, "A Perfect Fit", dealing with tessellations (you can find it in three parts on YouTube, starting here), and I sat out a copy of D.B. Johnson's, Escher inspired, Palazzo Inverso.
I left the shapes on the table the entire day, through lunch, dinner, and snack time, as well. The younger girls were the first to take interest in them. C (age 4), used them to make pictures, like the girl with the bow on her head below.
E (age six), tried to piece the boxes back together, puzzle style.
A (age 9), made a path out of hexagons.
D (age 8), used triangles.
And, G (age 11), arranged a honeycomb.
T, who at 13, has lived with me long enough to recognize a learning activity when he sees one, wouldn't touch them. But, he was happy enough to call out the names of the different sided polygons, for anyone interested, and spent some time turning Johnson's book, this way, and that, studying the topsy-turvy illustrations.
None of them attempted a multi-shaped tessellation, but I returned the shapes to the same three shaped pattern, after each time the children left it. I like it that way, because it reminds me of my grandmother's quilts. She never finished school, and couldn't read, or write, but she knew how to tessellate - not that she would have called it that, anymore than she would have called cutting up the old shirts to make the quilts - recycling.
It's great to be a homeschooler.