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Patterns of shape are found everywhere around us. There are countless natural and man-made patterns of repeated shapes found at every scale. Some shapes are geometric and some are organic. Geometric shapes are simple forms such as circles, squares, rectangles or pyramids but organic patterns have complex and irregular shapes. Plants and animals, both big and small, are abundant with shapes and patterns. Beavers, spiders and birds create dams, webs and nests that create structures with intricate patterns. These patterns can be found in the tiles of a bathroom or in the design of an entire city.

In the strange realms and countless worlds that beg exploration of the mind, one finds visual clues that reveal order in the universe. The irresistible allure of beauty in shape is one of nature’s many mysteries. Whether simple or complex, shapes are a result of the interaction between chemicals and energy in our world.

Shape your world!

Activity 1 – Find the Invisible! Reveal the Shapes!

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  1. Select a photograph (from a book or web-search) of a natural object. The photograph can show you the image of the object’s solid geometry.

  2. Draw this two dimensional image in line by tracing over it. Notice how the positive and negative spaces begin to create a series of geometrical shapes.

  3. Draw a second image of the principal shapes of plane geometries over your line drawing to create a pattern in this new space.

  4. Next, draw a third image of a new design based on an abstraction of the original pattern of the natural object.

Submit your pattern

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Activity 2 – Scissor Shapes

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After looking at Matisse cutouts using the resource links, get some colored paper and experiment with some of your own shapes.

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Activity 3 – Shapes in the City

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Look at these city skylines or use a photo of your city. See how many of the following shapes you can find in the city’s skyline: circles, triangles, squares and rectangles!

Shape the city you live in!

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  • Organic shapes and geometric shapes are both found in nature.
  • What shape has three equal sides?
  • A shape that is irregular and not geometrical is:
  • What shape has four equal sides?
  • Which shape has equal radii?
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