What is a hexagon? If you’re teaching geometry in your math classes, you may need to brush up on the various shape names and properties before diving in. A hexagon is a two-dimensional shape with six sides and six angles.
That also means that hexagons are polygons. Polygons are flat two-dimensional shapes with straight sides. Polygons enclose a space, and they do not have any curved sides.
From types of hexagons to hexagon properties, let’s take a look at some hexagon facts and examples of hexagons that your students might be able to identify from their everyday lives!
How Many Sides Does a Hexagon Have?
As mentioned above, the hexagon shape has six sides, making it a six-sided polygon. The “hex” portion of the word is what reminds us that it has 6 sides. After all, hex is from the Greek ἕξ, meaning “six.” The rest of the word for this shape is also from the Greek γωνία, gonía, meaning “corner angle.”
Types of Hexagons
There are five main types of hexagons that your students may encounter. Hexagons can be regular, irregular, concave, convex, or complex.
Teaching about 2D shapes? Explore our 2D Shape teaching resource collection!
What Is a Regular Hexagon?
A regular hexagon is a closed-shape polygon with six equal sides and six equal angles. Every regular hexagon can be identified by specific properties.
A regular hexagon:
- must be a plane figure,
- must have six straight sides,
- must enclose a space,
- must have six interior angles measuring 120 degrees each
- must have all interior angles equal to a total sum of 720 degrees.
2-D Shapes with Information - Poster
A 2-D shapes poster with 16 common shapes, as well as information characterizing each shape.
2-D Shapes Coloring Worksheet – 8 Shapes
A worksheet where students identify and color shapes according to simple instructions.
Color by 2-D Shape – Activity Sheets
A detailed set of color by shape activities.
What Is an Irregular Hexagon?
Just as the name implies, an irregular hexagon is a 6-sided polygon that is not regular. This means that the sides and angles are not equal, however other characteristics of hexagons still apply. For example, the irregular hexagon is still two-dimensional and the sides are made up of straight lines.
What Is a Concave Hexagon?
You might recognize concave hexagons on the jacket of some military members or even on the arm of a police officer in your town. These six-sided shapes have a deep indentation in them, but they still qualify as a polygon. In order to be described as concave, a hexagon will have at least one internal angle that is greater than 180 degrees.
Hexagon Shape Examples
The most commonly known natural hexagon is a honeycomb, found in beehives. Bees are skilled at constructing uniform hexagons. Bees’ eyes are made up of many thousands of hexagonal lenses.
Snowflakes and certain crystals are also hexagonal shape examples, and one hexagon that students may be most familiar with is on the side of their gym class soccer ball. The light-colored panels on a soccer ball are — you guessed it — hexagons! A traditional soccer ball then has pentagonal shapes making up the darker sections.
Symmetry of Hexagons
Typically symmetry lessons in elementary school do not extend into the symmetry of hexagons, but you may have an advanced student who is eager to learn more! A regular hexagon has six rotational symmetries (rotational symmetry of order six) and six reflection symmetries (six lines of symmetry). The longest diagonals of a regular hexagon, connecting diametrically opposite vertices, are twice the length of one side of the shape.
Diagonals of a Hexagon
A diagonal is a line joining two opposite corners of a straight-sided shape. For regular hexagons, the nine diagonals form into six equilateral triangles.
The formula to find the diagonals of hexagons is:
- n (n-3)/2, where n is the number of sides of a polygon.
- For a hexagon, n = 6, and 6 (6-3) / 2 equals nine diagonals.
A radius of a hexagon is the center point of the hexagon to one of its corners.
Are Hexagons Tessellating Shapes?
Shapes that tessellate can be repeated across a surface without leaving gaps or overlapping. These shapes have straight sides which can sit up against one another. Triangles and squares tessellate; circles and pentagons do not. Hexagons (which are themselves composed of tessellated triangles) do tesselate.
Because hexagons are tessellating shapes, these geometric shapes are often used in tiling patterns and in construction. Look around the floor of your school. You may be able to spot some hexagons to share with your class!
Teaching about hexagons? Try these hexagon activities with your students to get them excited about these fascinating shapes!
All About Hexagons Mini Booklet
A mini booklet to assist younger students in learning about hexagons.
2-D Shapes and Their Attributes - Interactive PowerPoint
Practice identifying the attributes of different 2D shapes with this 90-slide interactive PowerPoint.
2D Shapes Poster Set
Use this set of 16 brightly colored 2D shapes with your geometry lessons.
Individual 2-D Shapes Blue Print – Posters
2-D Shapes and their names, diagrams, and properties on individual posters.
Perimeter Formula for 2-D Shapes - Poster
A poster showing the perimeter formula for different 2-D shapes.