Radials start at a center point and radiate out like rays of the sun or spokes of a wheel. Radial designs build upon patterning concepts and skills. However, they are more difficult to create than patterns since the position and spatial orientation of the lines are constantly changing.

Clare printing
Learning Objectives

When creating patterns and radial designs, children develop and practice:

  • hand orientation, placement and spatial skills
  • planning
  • working with a set of rules
  • using mathematical variables such as number, grouping, direction, alternation, position and length
  • analytical thinking skills
  • systematic approaches to building

Discover Radials

Look for radial designs on plates, platters, and jewelry, as well as in flowers and on clothing, machines and in the built environment.  Identify the individual lines, shapes and colors that repeat.

plate from Spain

De La Cal Barreira, Spain


Many radial designs appear complicated, but when you look closely, you will see that the elements are really just basic lines and shapes. It is the number of elements and the arrangement that makes them look so complex.


To Print a Radial Design

To create a radial design is play with the intersection of one’s own inventive ideas and a set of rules.

*Notice the sequence in which the teacher changes the materials.

Getting Started:

Use paper that is 18” X 18” or larger.

  • Print an  X  or + in the middle of the paper.
  • Repeat the same line in the same position in each wedge. (Turning the paper as you work can help with placement.)
  • Remember to use the variables of direction, number, spacing ...
  • Try crossing and connecting too.
  • Work out to the edge of the paper.
  • Add a second color.
  • Add a found object.

Watch a Teacher

demonstrate working on a radial design.

As she demonstrates, the teacher discusses the variables of direction, position, and number that the children also used when creating patterns.

Spontaneous Radials

Developmentally, age 3-5 is known as the Design Stage. Line printing is a medium that allows children to further their design explorations.

During her first experience with line printing, Olivia (age 3) created this beautiful radial design. She said, “It’s a Ferris wheel.”

While printing patterns for the first time, Abby (age 5) printed a radial design between her two line patterns. She figured out how to do this by herself and taught other children how to do it as well.

Pattern to Radial

Dylan (age 8) builds upon the design configuration that he developed while printing a pattern.



Found objects,  added at the very end, embellish radial designs and add contrast.

Kevin (age 8) and Taylor (age 8)

Clare (age 8) and Julie (age 8)


Drawing Radial Designs

Photocopying this configuration can be helpful.

Marissa's radial design

Marissa (age 6)

Shannon's radial design

Shannon (age 6)

radial patterns

Getting started:

  • Start in the middle of a wedge.
  • Repeat the same line or shape in each wedge in the same place.
  • Choose a new shape or line and repeat.
  • Use the outside circle in any way that you wish.

Danielle's radial design

Danielle (age 6)


Kaleidograph Crystal

“Based upon geometry in nature, the Kaleidograph upholds the tradition of the original creative design toys of the Froebel Kindergarten system that are known to have influenced Albert Einstein, Frank Lloyd Wright, Buckminster Fuller, Piet Mondrian, and design education at the Bauhaus.”