Islamic Geometric Pattern Tutorials & Resources suitable for Kids or Beginners

On this page, I've collected together resources & videos suitable for children (or adults & beginners too). A great place to start if you're a grown up geometer who finds the younger ones curious about what you do. Some are simpler patterns constructed using a  compass & straight edge. Whilst others require only a ruler and/or colouring pens/pencils with PDFs you can download & print off at home.

In my experience, children aged 11 and over usually have the manual dexterity & hand eye coordination needed for using a compass & straight edge. Ofcourse this isn't always the case and some can pick it up fairly quickly. So if they are younger that 11, the compass-free activities may be more suitable.

If all things to do with Mathematics & Art is your thing, then I have to mention two friends from Twitter/Instagram who have both created abundant resources on their websites, challenges and hashtags to inspire and motivate people to get creating!

Clarissa Grandi - www.artfulmaths.com 

Annie Perkins - www.arbitrarilyclose.com 

Clarissa also recently published a book with many super activities to work through: Artful Maths Work Book, the book is available with a teacher guide too.

Both have a Maths teaching background, which really feeds into how well they communicate. So I have to mention Manuel Martinez Vela who is producing books to help ups discover, know and draw the patterns of Andalusia. See his books on my books page and also follow him on Social media: Manuel Martinez Vela

I’ve often been asked about colouring books and I’m sure there are an abundance out there, searches on Amazon are very fruitful. I’ve listed the ones I’ve tried out on my books page.

Islam Channel Kids - Simple patterns with a compass and ruler

Tool & equipment needed: Plain paper, compass, pencil, ruler, eraser & sharpener, colouring pencils/pens or paints. Tracing paper, masking tape & watercolour paints & paint brush are used weaving, transferring and painting some of the patterns on watercolour paper. See my page on equipment if you'd like to see my recommendations.

Way back when in March 2017, I popped over to the Islam Channel studios in East London to spend a weekend filming these videos. I didn't see them on their TV channel for a long while, in fact I didn't know they were up and being broadcast till someone messaged me saying you're on my TV! I'm really pleased with how they turned out and am glad they've edited them together so well for YouTube too. 

In total, I demonstrated how to draw and colour a single eightfold pattern (Ep 1 and 2), a sixfold pattern ( Ep 7, 8, 9), a tiled eightfold pattern (8 pointed star Part 1 and 2), as well as a Chinese arcing motif pattern (Notebook Lesson One to Four). There are episodes missing/renamed etc and there is one on compasses too (Top Tips - Compasses). Finally, you have the added bonus at the end of the playlist: 4 videos by Adam Williamson in their old Art Of Islamic Pattern Studio.

Sixfold Patterns on an Isometric Grid - with or without compass & ruler

The key to the patterns in this video is Isometric gridded or dotted paper. A grid made up of equilateral triangles where each dot/point/corner is the same distance from the six around it. Every angle is 60 degrees . Every line is the same length. It’s brilliant for drawing sixfold patterns and also 3D drawings and letterings (I used to love writing my name in 3D letters and drawing robots as a child and then as a teacher).

 

Here are some options as to how you can approach it with or without a compass:

EASY: Download and print Isometric paper (dotted or  lined).

EASY: Buy Isometric paper (amazon.co.uk affiliate link)

EASY: Or use online software.

​MEDIUM: Draw an isometric grid from scratch using a compass and ruler as shown in the video.

DIFFICULT: Draw an isometric grid on a grid of circles using a ruler.

Whichever way you choose to go, it’s a brilliant  way to explore patterns as well as 3D work.

Tool & equipment needed:

For the EASY activities - colouring pencils/pens, ruler optional on the gridded paper bought/printed.

For the MEDIUM activity - colouring pencils/pens & ruler on the gridded paper bought.

For the DIFFICULTY activity - plain paper, compass, pencil, ruler, eraser & sharpener, colouring pencils/pens or paints. Tracing paper, masking tape & watercolour paints & paint brush are used for transferring and painting the patterns on watercolour paper.

See my page on equipment if you'd like to see my recommendations.

Simplified two/fourfoldPatterns on a Grid - no compass needed

The idea is to work on the gridded paper provided ( two sizes are included in the PDF download) and using pencils or colouring pens/pencils, a child draws   the single unit tile ( without the dotted lines of the square), and then  draws/colours further tiles by translating and/or reflecting the shapes above, below , left and right. Each activity sheet has 3 patterns, easy, intermediate and difficult to create depending on the shape and how it is tiled/repeated.

 

This is one of the first activities I created especially for kids in 2016 (under 11s who weren’t experienced/confident with using a

compass & ruler). 

 

Note of caution: This grid is a simplification that doesn’t allow us to create patterns with eightfold symmetry. Therefore they cannot be used to create the exact shapes and proportions we see in the photos or in the architecture. A good way to observe this is by looking at the eight pointed star in both the handouts. You can see that all 8 points are not equal, the four on the corners are smaller than the four on the sides, hence they are not perfect khatams/eight pointed stars/ octograms. If they were drawn with a circle they would all be equal.

Tool & equipment needed:  Colouring pencils/pens, ruler optional on the printed PDF gridded paper.

Simplified Islamic Geometric Patterns on a Circular Grid - no compass needed

A simple grid of overlapping circles are such fun to colour, even without a pattern in mind, you can easily get carried away creating 6 petal flowers, sometimes called the flower of life, you can also try drawing this pattern below from the Alhambra. If you add lines as shown in the #42 Islamic Geometric Patterns on an Isometric Grid tutorial , you can then go from curves to lines and draw many sixfold patterns.

Tool & equipment needed:  Colouring pencils/pens, ruler optional on the printed PDF gridded paper.

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If you enjoy the free resources, any size donation welcome to help sustain my work!