So, symmetry! This is a topic that I love to teach as you can get very creative with it and have huge amounts of fun. However, there is not always time to do the fun stuff. Unfortunately the fun bit is generally the consolidation bit so this topic does not always get fully understood at school. Often the children don't realise this as they can do the obvious symmetrical activities but it's the tricky bits that always catch them out.
Below I have described some activities that you can do with your children to really consolidate their knowledge of symmetry and to have some fun. These can all be adapted to suit the level your child is working at.
Go for a walk around your neighbourhood or local shopping centre and find as many symmetrical things as you can. Each time one of you finds something, stop and discuss whether it is symmetrical or not. As parent you could find a couple of things that initially look symmetrical but upon discussion and closer inspection are not.
Go for a walk or send your child to wonder the house and garden with a camera and ask him / her to take photographs of anything they find that is symmetrical. Once they have a specified number of photos (you will need to limit this or you will be discussing 50+ photos!) print them out (on paper, nothing special) and discuss why the item in the photo is symmetrical or not. By printing these out you are also then able to use a mirror to help work out if something is symmetrical or not.
We must have all done a symmetrical butterfly painting at some point in our lives. Here's the chance to do it again. There is the basic level butterfly of splosh some paint on half a piece of paper, fold the paper in half and press down. Unfold and 'hey presto' a butterfly has appeared. This can be extended by your child painting a specific pattern on one side and then letting it 'copy' onto the other. Another way of extending this is to get your child to paint a detailed symmetric butterfly by painting both sides and then folding it in half to check how symmetrical it really is.
Cutting and Pasting
Instead of paint you and your child could create a symmetrical picture. Fold a piece of paper in half (or quarters) and then stick onto the paper coloured bits of paper, sequins, pompoms etc. Make sure both sides (or all four sides) are symmetrical. You can make this a little more interesting by creating something specific eg a butterfly by folding the paper in half and cutting a butterfly shape out of it. Or a mask, a body, a specific shape like a square or a hexagon.
Depending on how messy you want to be you could do a mosaic with your child. This could be done with coloured pens on squared paper or by sticking on coloured squares. This activity is great for extending the older children as you can do diagonal lines of symmetry or 4 way symmetry.
Create a table on a large sheet of paper with two columns (possibly more depending on level). One column marked symmetrical and the other marked non-symmetrical. Or this could be marked with 1 line of symmetry, 2 lines of symmetry etc. Over a period of a few days get your child to complete the table by drawing a picture of anything she finds that would fit onto either column so eventually she / he should have up to 10 items in each column.
Depending on your personal drawing skills you could draw half of various objects and get your child to draw the other half, keeping it symmetrical. For example you could draw half a ladybird and then pass it over for your child to draw the other half and colour it in (you may have already coloured your half in an interesting pattern ready to be copied. Children often love this as it's sitting and colouring. You could make it more fun by both of you drawing a half object and then exchanging.
Hopefully you are now inspired with lots of things to do but are maybe unsure of what level to do this out so here is a progress chart for symmetry. I have avoided using ages this time as this is not necessarily age dependent, some children can progress along this quite quickly given lots of practice.
- First step is to recognise simple shapes that are symmetrical and be able to mark on the line of symmetry. Eg draw a line of symmetry through a square or a triangle and then to venture slightly further and be able to draw one through a teddy bear picture or a picture of a spider etc.
- Once they can recognise this symmetry can your child draw it? If you drew half a square and the line of symmetry could they draw the other half - the reflection? Try it with a teddy bear.
- Once basic symmetry has been established you need to start putting this into context by looking at regular shapes and identifying how many lines of symmetry a shape has and where they are.
- Alongside the above children need to be able to draw what I would call a more random reflection. ie. They have a shape and a need to be able to reflect this in a line of symmetry that is not part of the shape.
- Once they can reflect a shape in one line of symmetry can they reflect it in a diagonal line of symmetry and then across 2 lines of symmetry? eg. Imagine a hexagon with a line of symmetry drawn vertically to it and then draw a line of symmetry across the bottom so it is horizontal to it - can they draw a reflection in both these lines?