Discovering Hexagons


After playing around with pentagons, Silas' sixth birthday seemed like a good time to discover hexagons.

Our previous geometric introduction was so positive, having the shape revealed in the sea star, that I hoped to find a similar way to use nature to find our next geometric form. In one of my internet search rabbit holes, I read some fascinating facts about bubbles, including the fact that a bunch of bubbles that are uniform in size will always come together to make hexagons. But how to make this visible for a six-year-old?


I started with a clear box acrylic picture frame. On this particular frame, the corners weren't sealed, so I ran a bead of hot glue in each one to make it water tight. Add some soapy water and a straw and not much instruction was needed.


Once we had a good tray of bubbles, we placed another flat piece of plexi on top of the tray, which served to flatten the bubbles into a wall.


A dry erase marker let Silas trace the walls of the bubbles. Our bubbles were not uniform in size, so their hexagonal shape was not always obvious, but once he traced the whole thing out, it sure did look a lot like a beehive! 


We tried another variation of this experiment by mixing paint in with our soapy water in order to make bubble prints.


He wanted to hunt for and trace the hexagons on this one as well.


Greatly inspired by this post, we made hexagon tessellations using monochromatic images cut from magazines and our homemade hexagon inset.



We each chose to do our favorite color: red for him and green for me.


We also built a hexagon outside with logs that we walked every morning and tried to find hexagons out in the world and in nature (there are many!) We got some honey comb to try and made hexagons with the geo board and drew them with our inset. It may seem odd that we've spent such a long time focusing on so few shapes (two so far for the whole semester), but I think that it's been a beneficial experience. His familiarity and understanding of them is deeper than I think it would be if we were quickly moving on to the next thing. My original intention was to work through all the polygons sequentially, which would make the heptagon next, but I think that will just muddle the waters. Now I'm feeling the pull to focus on something completely different. Quatrefoil, perhaps?

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