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Tri-tetraflexagon - three versions
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Geometric Toys to Make


What you will make:

Flexagons are folded paper polygons that have the neat feature of changing faces as they are flexed. In this project, you'll make the tri-tetraflexagon, which is one of the simplest and easiest-to-make flexagons. It looks like a simple paper square with a front and a back, but hidden inside is another side (or face) that is revealed by folding the square in half and flexing it.

The name of a flexagon is special, because it tells the flexagon's shape and number of faces. For example, the name tri-tetraflexagon uses tri to indicate three faces, and tetra describes the shape of a four-sided polygon (square). In other flexagon craft projects, you can make a tri-hexaflexagon—a six-sided polygon (hexagon) with three faces (tri), or a hexa-hexaflexagon—a six-sided polygon (hexagon) with six faces (hexa).

Here's what you need:
  • Computer paper
  • Glue or double-sided tape
  • Scissors
  • Bone folder or empty ballpoint pen
  • Ruler
  • Optional: Rubber stamps, stamp pad, tape, patterned paper, pictures

This project is rated EASY to do.

How to Make a Tri-tetraflexagon

Read all of the steps before starting.
Step 1: Choose a Pattern and Print It

Choose a tri-tetraflexagon to make. Download and print the pattern.
Choose a design that prints in color, or select one of the black & white patterns and use your creativity to add color and designs. It is easiest to fold patterns that have numbers or counting dots. Make one of these flexagons first before trying any of the others. To aid in folding and decorating the blank and unnumbered patterns, guides that number the faces are included on the patterns. The Labeled Guide pattern can be used to make your own flexagon creation from designed paper or picture cutouts—see the sidebar for more details. With the Half-Face Borders pattern, draw and color the faces after constructing the flexagon or use the face labels as guides for drawing each half of a face.

Printable pattern for a numbered tri-tetraflexagon
Printable pattern for a numbered tri-tetraflexagon with frames
Silly Faces
Printable pattern for a tri-tetraflexagon with silly faces
Printable pattern for a plain tri-tetraflexagon
Printable pattern for a Valentine's Day tri-tetraflexagon
Labeled Guide
Printable pattern for a tri-tetraflexagon with quadrants labeled
Half-Face Borders
Printable pattern for a tri-tetraflexagon with borders and half-faces marked

Patterns are Adobe PDF files. The Adobe Reader is available for free.

All of Aunt Annie's project patterns are designed to be printed on standard letter-size paper (8.5"x11" or A4). When printing from Adobe Reader, you may need to select Auto-Rotate and Center or Choose paper source by PDF page size to ensure the best fit.

Step 2: Color and Decorate Pattern (optional)

Color the pattern template as you like with markers, colored pencils or crayons. You don't need to color the glue tabs marked with '*'. The Frames patterns are particularly suited to rubber stamp decorations.

Tip: On blank patterns, follow the Coloring Guide. All of the squares that make up a flexagon face have the same number, so color and decorate them with that in mind.

Step 3: Cut

Cut around the pattern piece on the outline. Try to make the cuts very straight and accurate. The cutout pattern has 14 squares that, when doubled over and glued, result in seven squares.

Step 4: Double Over and Glue

Make a two-sided pattern with a double thickness by folding the pattern piece in half lengthwise and gluing. To make a sharp, straight fold, first score on the fold line.

Fold in half and glue for a double thickness

To score: Use a ruler and the empty ballpoint pen (or bone folder) to make an indent along the fold lines.

Step 5: Fold

Score and fold back and forth on all the solid lines. Do this for each of the seven squares of the tri-tetraflexagon. Follow the folding instructions very carefully.

Position pattern for foldingPlace the glued pattern as pictured, with the 3-3-1 sequence up and to your left.

Fold the leftmost square over the adjacent square on the line between the two squares numbered with a 3.

Fold left-most square over the adjacent squareThe squares with 3's are now on the inside of the fold, and the glue tab, *, is on top.

Fold back the three rightmost squares on the line between the squares numbered with 1 and 2.

Fold back the three right-most squares.The squares with the number 2 are now on the back, and the front side has three squares with 1s and a glue tab, *.

Pull forward the square marked with a 1 from behind the glue tab.

Pull square the marked with a 1 from behind the glue tab forward.Now there are four squares of the same color, numbered 1, on the front, and four squares numbered 2 on the back.

Glue the flexagon glue tabs togetherThe last step is to glue the flexagon. The two glue tabs marked with * are now face-to-face. Glue them together.

Wait for the glue to dry before flexing your flexagon.

Step 6: Flex How to flex the tri-tetraflexagon

With the side of the flexagon numbered 1 facing up, fold the flexagon in half vertically with the squares numbered 2 on the inside of the fold. Gently part the flexagon along the fold line to reveal the number 3 side. Now the number 2 side is hidden.

To see the number 2 side again, flip the flexagon over so the number 1 side is up, and repeat the flexing process. The tri-tetraflexagon is very simple, and has just two combinations of its three faces—sides 1 & 2 and sides 1 & 3. There is no way to get the combination 2 & 3.

Related crafts: Looking for more flexagon fun? Give the tri-hexaflexagon or hexa-hexaflexagon a try.

That's it. Your flexagon is done!
Tri-tetraflexagon - three versions

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Before you start:
  • Make a place to work.
  • Read all of the directions.
  • Gather everything you need to do the project.
  • Think about the project. Imagine how it will look and what you will do with it.

Are you ready?
Okay, get started!!!

Bonus Pattern

Tri-tetraflexagon Valentine - all faces

Tip: Print the Valentine's Day tri-tetraflexagon pattern to make a unique Valentine. It features three faces with teddy bears, bees and hearts!

Tri-tetraflexagon Valentine - face #1

Tip: The Valentine flexagon fits in greeting card-size envelopes; or, make this envelope pattern.

Framed tri-tetraflexagon pattern with stamped images

Tip: The Frames patterns work well with rubber stamp images. The dots on the frames number the flexagon's faces.

Stamped tri-tetraflexagon

Tip: Color rubber-stamped images with pencils or markers.

Guide pattern for tri-tetraflexagon with picture cutouts

Tip: Use the Labeled Guide pattern to size and place picture cutouts on the three faces of the tri-tetraflexagon.

Giraffe cutout on face of tri-tetraflexagon

Tip: The picture cutouts can fill the entire flexagon face or a portion of it. This cutout is aligned to the bottom of the upper squares (ul/ur) and the top of the lower squares (ll/lr).

Tri-tetraflexagon numbering and coloring guide

Tip: Use the number and coloring guide when decorating the plain and unnumbered tri-tetraflexagon patterns. The squares that make up a face of the flexagon are the same color and number.

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