Package 3-4: Sponge art transformations

In this task your child will create a painting while investigating flips, slides and turns.

Week 4 - Package 4 - Year 5 and 6 Mathematics - Sponge art transformations

From Youcubed.

Things you need

Have these things available so your child can complete this task.


  • Plain paper

  • Kitchen sponge (old or new)

  • Paint in different colours

  • Containers for the paint

  • Plastic gloves and clothes covering (you may get paint on you)

  • Plastic table covering

  • Scissors

Back up

  • Card from old packages or boxes

  • Paper or card from old packages or boxes, lids, cut potato stamps.

  • Food colouring

  • Paper plates

  • An old shirt you don’t mind getting paint on

  • Cut up plastic bag laid flat on a table

  • Paper

Before you start

This task comes from YouCubed at Stanford University. Watch the video.

Cut out the sponge into different shapes like different geometric shapes such as quadrilaterals, triangles, pentagons, and so on.

Set up your equipment.

Paint, sponges, paper.

What your child needs to know and do

Students will be exploring ideas around the movement of shapes. We use words like ‘translate’, ‘rotate’ and ‘reflect’ to describe these movements.

Translate is when a shape moves position without turning (sliding). Reflect is when a shape is flipped (flip). Rotate is when a shape is turned, like it has a pin through its centre (turn).

Rotational symmetry is when a shape has a centre point (like a pin through its middle) so that when it is rotated, it moves onto itself perfectly. E.g an equilateral triangle has a rotation of 120 degrees where it turns onto itself.

What to do next

  1. Talk to your child about the different shapes you could make and allow them to make a range of different shapes. Then, get creating!

  2. Try making prints of the shape by ‘translating’ (sliding) a two-dimensional shape.

4 squares of paint in a row on a piece of paper.

  1. You can also try reflecting (flipping).

triangle prints flipped on page.

  1. And rotating (turning).

Triangle prints rotated on the page.

  1. Have fun making some art using your maths skills!

You can upload a picture of your painting to Geogebra to explore different transformations!

Options for your child

Activity too hard?

  • Draw around a two-dimensional shape and use that to make your stamps.

  • Practise tracing shapes by sliding the shape across a blank piece of paper.

  • Use a mirror to show the reflection of a two-dimensional shape by holding it up against the shape on a table.

Activity too easy?

  • Using a sponge shape, test whether the shape can be tessellated by stamping the shape several times with one side lining up with the other.

  • Does the shape fit perfectly next to each other?

  • Can you think of other shapes which can tessellate?

  • Can you find things in your house which are tessellations? (bathroom tiles)

Extension/additional activity

Rotational symmetry

Using a sponge shape, test whether the shape has rotational symmetry by stamping the shape in a clockwise direction without overlapping the paint.

Does the shape complete a full circle (360 degrees) without overlapping?

How can you change the shape of the sponge so it does have rotational symmetry?

Can you find the ‘centre’ of rotation?

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