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717richboy's avatar

Creative ways to teach young children about symmetry?

Asked by 717richboy (231 points ) May 9th, 2013

Trying to conjure up lesson plans, and geometry isn’t my strong suit. In need of creative ideas, please and thanks.

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7 Answers

gorillapaws's avatar

Mirrors come to mind, as do scales. You could always do the snowflake cut-out technique where you fold a piece of paper several times, cut out shapes and then unfold. This could show radial symmetry (which may be more advanced than what you’re going for, but it helps illustrate the underlying concept of symmetry).

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

Have the child stand in front of a mirror. Ask him to use both hands, at the same time, to touch his ears, eyebrows, and the corners of his mouth. Then, have him wiggle and wave both arms . Finally, tell him to trace an invisible line from between his eyes, down his nose, and to his chin, and ask him what’s on either side. By then, he’ll likely have a good grasp of symmetry.

Mariah's avatar

Cutting out paper snowflakes, you can fold the paper in half to get two sides the same, a common time-saving maneuver. Then the crease is the line of symmetry.

zenvelo's avatar

Bring in symmetrical leaves. Have the kids fold a piece of 8½×11 paper in half, from the top to bottom. Then have them lay the leaf on the line from the crease, and trace the edge of one side. Then fold the sides back, so the child can see the tracing, and cut it out, cutting both sides out. It will unfold to look like a leaf.

Then find something similar that is symmetrical on both axes. Do the same thing with one/fourth of the object on a piece of paper that has been folded into quarters.

And lastly, try it with something from nature that has no symmetry. Contrast and compare.

Seek's avatar

How about the good old finger paint butterfly? And, you could take a picture of their face, cut half of it out down the middle, print it out, and have them draw in the missing half based on the one that still there .

JLeslie's avatar

@Mariah Already took my answer. Snowflakes, hearts, stars, really any shape. Actually, snowflakes are often cut with the paper folded twice now that I think of it, so maybe a heart is the easiest with young children.

LostInParadise's avatar

Most people are not aware of the mathematical definition of symmetry, but it is actually rather simple and easy to teach. Anything (concrete or abstract) is symmetric with respect to an action if the thing is the same after performing the action.

In addition to the other ideas suggested, you can use letters of the alphabet. M and H are symmetric with respect to reflection in a vertical mirror. C is symmetric with respect to reflection in a horizontal mirror. N and S are symmetric with respect to rotation by 180 degrees.

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