Maths and Art

An input i found very interesting, and thoroughly enjoyed, from the Discovering Maths module, was about how maths can be creative. I have to admit, this thought had never really crossed my mind. We spent time talking about, and looking at, tessellation’s and different forms of islamic art. Although I have seen both of these before, I never understood that maths plays such a big role in their creation.

We first discussed how many sides each shape has and took turns quizzing each other about this. We then moved onto talking about the different types of shape. This included polygons and quadrilaterals, along with talking about regular and irregular shapes. This led us onto tessellation. Tessellation is defined as “an arrangement of shapes being closely fitted together”. We were able to use what we had already discussed to talk about which shapes would be able to do this and which would not. All triangles and quadrilaterals tesselate along with a few regular shapes (squares, hexagons and equilateral triangles).

My favourite part of the input was learning about the different types Islamic art. Many examples of this kind of art have been created by tessellating different shapes.

Another example of Islamic art is the design of Islamic stars. We had the chance to create our own Islamic stars. We did this by firstly drawing a circle using a compass, then drawing a series of lines to create shapes within the circle. I found this activity very enjoyable and it highlighted to me that maths can be fun and creative. Inserted below is one I created in the workshop.

Because I enjoyed this input, I decided to try out a different form of creative maths at home. We were given the link to a digital roots website which showed how you could create patterns (similar to the image above) using digital roots. Digital roots are one digit numbers relating to a numbers times table. For example:

2 x 1 = 2 ( 2 is the digital root)

2 x 2 = 4 (4 is the digital root)

However, when the answer becomes more than a 1 digit number, you add the numbers in the answer together to get the digital root:

2 x 5 = 10 (1 + 0 = 1) 1 is the digital root

2 x 6 = 12 (1 + 2 = 3) 3 is the digital root

Following the instructions from the website, I created a circle using a compass and plotted 9 points on it, numbered 1 – 9. I then drew lines from number to number in the order of the digital roots. I did this for the 2, 5 and 8 times tables creating 3 different patterns.

I thoroughly enjoyed this activity and it has shown me that there are many different ways to learn about maths. Often in maths lessons I have felt nervous about activities and the thought of getting the answer wrong has always worried me. However, I found this type of learning to be a completely different experience. It was much more enjoyable and relaxed while still being  able to learn about maths. Therefore, I believe learning creatively about this subject is very beneficial.

Link to digital roots website:



1 thought on “Maths and Art

  1. Jonathan Brown

    I’m glad you enjoyed this input Neve. I suggest you have a look at Jo Boaler’s work with Phoenix Park and Amber Hill schools in her book ‘The Elephant in the Classroom’. I think you will find the creative approach of Phoenix Park interesting.


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