Symmetry is a concept of mathematics that is pervasive and adaptable for students right from the early days. To understand the concept and make use of it, students take a long time, and the process begins right from preschool days.
Why teach symmetry?
One of the most prevalent themes in art, design and architecture all over the world is – Symmetry. Symmetry is also regarded as one of the most powerful & pervasive concepts in mathematics. Symmetry is present all around us in nature and studying this can be as simple or advanced as the student requires.
When seen in a broader context, symmetry paves the way to understanding the interconnectedness of mathematics with other branches of knowledge.
What is a line of symmetry?
A line of symmetry is an imaginary line that cuts a shape in exactly two halves. If you fold the shape along the line, both halves will match equally. If you place a mirror right next to the line, the reflection will complete the shape.
When do children generally learn about symmetry in school?
Generally, in schools, children are introduced to symmetry in year 2. In this year they are taught to identify and describe the properties of a 2-D shape. This exercise includes identifying the number of sides and line symmetry in a given vertical line.
In year 4 this is taken forward and students are given different orientations of 2-D shapes. They are also asked to complete a simple symmetric figure along with a specific line of symmetry.
The non-statutory guidance suggests that children recognize line symmetry in a variety of diagrams. This exercise also is given where the line of symmetry does not dissect the real shape.
Symmetry activities for preschoolers and kindergarteners
Here we bring to you some simple and easy symmetry activity ideas you can try at home or with kindergarten kids.
Note- Focus on the process of learning rather than expecting an outcome. Kids will not be interested initially, but after some activities, they will start having fun.
Learning symmetry with Jewellery making
Jewelry making is definitely a fun task if your kid is excited with the multiple colors and jewelry pieces. Sit with your children and draw what you both would want to make. The thought that goes behind such designs will help the kid learn a lot about symmetry without even knowing about it. It is the natural instinct that will push him/her to learn and do great things in symmetry learning.
Once the design is decided, make sure to let the kid put all the pieces of jewelry together. You can either make a necklace or a bracelet as it gives a good idea of symmetry. Letting kids know that understanding of symmetry can solve such real-world problems will be a great motivator for them.
What’s wrong with this picture?
When you show children things relevant to their lives, they will understand them faster and better. When things are about them, they relate to it easily.
You can start with a child’s face for this activity. You need to sketch his/her face while muddling up all the features. Do not keep the eyes in the same line; keep one ear big and one small. Also, you can keep the mouth to the side of the face instead of the center.
Sit with your kid and ask them, “what’s wrong with this picture?”. Find out all the things that are wrong and then start re-drawing it accurately.
This activity will help the kid understand that there’s an imaginary line drawn in the center of the face. Also, let them know that both sides of the imaginary line look the same.
Talk more about symmetry.
The face activity should be the starting point of your discussion about symmetry with a child. Explain to them that symmetry is like a mirror image of each other. Give them examples from real life about symmetry.
Kids will look at objects and divide them with a line through the center. They will find out that two sides of the object look similar.
Speak with them more about the human body. Ask them to draw an imaginary line with fingers that will divide their body into two halves. Question them on-
- What is there on both sides of the imaginary line?
- Is there a difference in size or length of a body part in both halves?
- Number of fingers on each hand
- Folding the body into halves and would they match equally?
From this, you can head towards nature to find more such examples. You can also try out some books which deal exclusively with symmetry for kids.
Look for symmetry in letters
The combination of symmetry and literature is a great idea, as kids find it extremely exciting. Start with writing a letter on a sticky note, place it on a table, and then put a mirror right in the center. Does the mirror complete the letter with its reflection? Let your kids find it out and place the mirror exactly on the imaginary line.
This builds their confidence in understanding where the imaginary line remains for different shapes.
Symmetry in images
Browse through books that have examples of symmetry. You can also check out the internet to get such images of nature.
A housefly is one of the most versatile examples of symmetry in animals. When divided by an imaginary line, both sides are precisely similar to each other.
With such practice, children will start looking for symmetry in all the animals they see. Leaves and plants will also play a similar role as children can create symmetry out of them.
Check out nature’s symmetry.
Head out with your child and look for examples of symmetry in the real world. Observing nature is always a best practice.
Visit a nearby garden and check out the leaves, branches, flowers, and butterflies. Talk with the kid about whether he/she can divide them with an imaginary line that matches both halves.
Try taking a leave and ask your child to divide it with the imaginary line and then fold it to see if both halves match or not. This happens to be the most practical example of symmetry.
Try making mirror books.
You can make a mirror book with two thin mirrors taped together at a right angle from each other. Such mirror books create an element of awe and surprise for preschoolers.
You can place the mirror book on a shelf, corner nook, or on a tabletop.
The basic idea behind this is that children can place any loose part in whatever array in front of the mirror book. The mirror book will create a visual mandala with multiple lines of symmetry. It helps kids understand how symmetry works as it makes them excited!
This activity helps the children to enjoy the exploration process and get interested in symmetry further.
Model making or drawing next to a mirror
This can be simply done by attaching the mirror to the side of a box. Children can either create stick models or draw things just beside the mirror. It teaches the kids about symmetry very spontaneously.
Ask your child to draw half of something and the mirror reflection should complete the entire drawing. The most popular example would be to draw a half-butterfly and allow the mirror to complete the rest of it.
Paper folding activity
Try and take out time to explore shapes that have a fine line of symmetry. Give children paper cutouts of ovals, circles, hearts, and diamonds and let them fold it. If they fold it perfectly down the middle while matching the sides, they are on the right path to understanding symmetry.
Soon start giving them more complex shapes such as pentagons & hexagons. Give them such shapes which do not fold at the center.
Such paper folding activity will also help the kid to build better motor skills simultaneously.
These are some simple and easy symmetry activities for preschoolers and kindergarteners. Once they get the hang of these, they will develop a love for symmetry, which will help train their brain better for the following stages.
I’m a former teacher with a background in child development and a passion for creating engaging and educational activities for children. I strongly understand child development and know how to create activities to help children learn and grow. Spare time, I enjoy spending time with my family, reading, and volunteering in my community.