Kids often dig patterns, so symmetry can be a fascinating concept to explore. Because there are many examples of symmetry in nature, teaching symmetry can start with a lesson in observation. Once your little one gets the idea, indulge in some engaging and entertaining activities that will reinforce symmetrical ideas and concepts.
1. Grab a Mirror
Start a symmetry lesson by handing your little one a mirror and having him look at his reflection. Talk about his two eyes, two eyebrows, two ears and two cheeks. Show him that if you drew an imaginary line – a line of symmetry – from the center of his forehead, straight down his nose, over his mouth and chin and down to his neck, both halves of his face would be exactly the same. This means that his face is symmetrical. Tell your little one that anything with two identical halves in shape and pattern has symmetry.
2. Painting and Coloring
Give your little one a hands-on opportunity to create easy symmetry. Fold a standard piece of white paper in half lengthwise and crease the fold well. Open out the paper so it’s flat and place it in front of your youngster. Give him some poster paints in bold colors and a paintbrush and encourage him to paint one half of the paper only. Watch as he paints to make sure that he doesn’t accidentally wander his paints over the fold line. When he finishes filling up half the paper with vivid painting, take the paper and refold it on the fold line carefully. After folding, press the two halves of the paper together firmly and then open the paper one more time. The pattern you see should be a symmetrical pattern on both halves of the paper as the wet paint transferred from one half of the paper to the other half. Let your little one’s artwork dry and then display it in a prominent spot.
3. Moving Symmetrically
The human body is an excellent example of symmetry – not only the face, but the whole body. That line of symmetry you started on your child’s face could continue all the way down to his toes, with two arms, two hands, two legs and two feet. Stand facing your little one and demonstrate making your body symmetrical – perhaps with both arms raised over your head and both feet planted far apart. Lead your little one to notice the symmetrical shape of your body. Encourage your little one to make his body symmetrical, too. Perhaps he could stretch both arms straight out from his sides with both legs bent. Notice the symmetrical shape of his body and give him a high five. Keep finding new symmetrical body positions for as long as your little one shows an interest.
4. Symmetry in Nature
Take a nature walk to find symmetrical objects. The Brooklyn Children’s Museum states that most plants and animals show some type of symmetry in shape and markings. Find a route where you and your little one can check out leaves, pine cones, flowers and animals scampering. As you walk, pick up leaves and talk about whether each leaf is symmetrical in shape. Check out flowers, too, because blossoms often show some sort of line of symmetry. If your little one has trouble picking out the line of symmetry, show him so he gets the idea. If you can bring home symmetrical finds from your walk, tuck them into a box or a bag to look at later.
- Brooklyn Children’s Museum: Symmetry
- Giant Encyclopedia of Preschool Activities for 4-Year Olds; Kathy Charner
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