Friday, January 21, 2011

positive/negative space radial desgins

Ok, lets see if I can describe how we did this project. I was able to demo it to 50 kids but sometimes visuals speak better than words.
This lesson is good for talking about positive and negative space, mirror symmetry and rotational designs and you could throw in organic and geometric shape. I did this with 6th and 7th graders but I think 5th grade could easily do it and maybe some sharp 4th graders.
(even simple ones look good, a 4th grader could do this)
I got a basic hexagon shape and enlarged it on the photocopier. I went ahead and divided the hexagon into 12 parts for the kids and then traced a copy of one of the 12 wedges of the hexagon onto an separate paper. The wedge is a right triangle. Each student received a sheet with the hexagon and a sheet with the wedge. I asked them to divide the wedge into 3-5 areas using organic and geometric shapes or lines.
(mirror and rotational symmetry...good math review)
They are to go over their lines with sharpie and cut out the wedge. Then they slip the design wedge under the hexagon and trace their design into every OTHER triangle. (tell them to make sure the right angle location is the same in each space) By going over your lines in sharpie you can see the lines without a lightbox. 6 sections should have the design. Have your students choose parts of the design to keep white and parts to color black. To make reversing the image simpler I had my kids work top to bottom alternating areas in white and black. Color in the 6 sections you have made already.

Now have the kids flip over the design triangle and trace the design onto the back side of the paper basically creating a mirror image of the original design. Have the students put the flipped over triangle under their paper and fill in the remaining 6 spaces (the right angle of the triangle is now reversed). After you have traced the design into the remaining spaces then have the students color in the 2nd set of triangles doing the exact opposite of the first set. What was black in the first triangle now needs to be white and what was white now needs to be black.

Trying to write this down makes it sound very confusing, BUT when I demonstrated it the kids understood with no problem and were able to help each other out. (Let's keep in mind I work with kids who are consistently several grade levels behind so that means your 4th or 5th graders should be able to figure it out just as well as my 6th and 7th graders.)

You could also do this project in black and a color or even two colors but I like how the black and white really pop. I don't have a lot of photos because the kids actually took this project home with them!!! It took most of the kids 3 50min class periods to complete.


  1. Very nice...I'm always looking for new ways to create radial designs - hadn't thought of black & white! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Very cool. I do a project with my 6th graders called...drumroll please.... trihexaflexagons! It is (to try desperately to explain something unexplainable) a shape just like those in your pictures, designed/colored on BOTH SIDES, but when you flex it, a new surface appears, one side disappears, and the design on the other original surface rotates kaleidoscopically. I'm sure this makes no sense, so when we do the project, probably later this winter (I'm behind schedule right now or it would have already been done) I'll try to post it. These designs would be PERFECT for my project and would (literally) have aother whole dimension. I know this makes very little sense, but in the meantime, thanks for the great design motivation!

  3. I know what you are talking about Phyl, your roll them. I have seen them but have never made them. I'll look forward to seeing directions.

  4. çok güzel ve başarılı olmuşlar tebrik ederim...

  5. These look great! I do a project similar to this every year with my middle school kids. I have never heard of what you are talking about Phyl, but I would love to see them. I'm very curious about them.

  6. Wow - This is fantastic- I wrote a positive negative radial design plan & was looking for examples ! We are going to use our designs for sgraffito plates. Thanks ! This will help my kids.

  7. Oh great idea Laurie...I had never thought of extending the lesson into print making...we may try this with lino prints next year