Geometric Design - Shapes in Circles

We used a compass to create seven circles and then found shapes within the circles.

This activity was based on Islamic Art and Geometric Design from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The first step was to create the circles.

This was done using a compass to create one circle. Then a second circle was created with the center located on the the circumference of the initial circle. The third and fourth circles were created with their centers located at the two points where the circles intersected. The fifth, sixth and seventh circles were created with their centers at the newly formed intersection points.

Once the circles were created, the focus was given to the center circle. Straight lines were drawn connecting the intersecting points in various combinations to create different shapes.

Then additional circles were added to the paper and more shapes were created. In each of these examples, there are six points on the circumference of the center circle.

To create the square and 12 pointed star on the right-hand side of the above photo, it was necessary to create additional points on the circumference of the circle. Looking at the square, this was accomplished by drawing a straight line passing through the center of the circle and the outer intersection points of two of the circles. The 12 pointed star required three additional straight lines to be drawn to create six additional points.

The kids enjoyed this activity so much that our 30 minute math session turned into 2 hours. Even then, they weren't ready to stop working for free time outside until I promised them we could continue the activity the next day.

Creating the grids was a valuable learning activity, but to repeat the project grid creation becomes a chore. So I created the basic grid. Please feel free to download it for personal or classroom use.

7 Circle Grid for Finding Shapes

If you haven't signed-up to follow Highhill Education by email yet it would be a great time as we plan to expand on this activity by adding several more challenging steps. To see our past creative math activities please go to our Math Page.

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  1. Me too. I love all your geometric art activities. I'm really looking forward to trying them with my kids.


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