Today, we did a fantastically simple, yet wonderfully engaging activity that explored symmetry with my Kindergartner and preschooler. They sat for nearly an hour, engaged in the activity. It was fantastic, and by the end of the activity they were teaching me, showing me the lines of symmetry, and correctly using the vocabulary terms. It was so much fun, yet it was a simple symmetry exploration for young children.
Introduce the children to the concept of symmetry – meaning that something is symmetrical with it is the same on both sides.
Symmetrical: meaning the same on both sides.
Asymmetrical: meaning different on both sides.
Line of symmetry: meaning the line drawn down an object, over which both sides are the same.
Copies of this free printable, that shows where to fold the paper
Craft paint in the primary colors; red, yellow, and blue.
Three foam brushes, one for each color
A painting tray to act as a palette for the paints (I used a pie tin)
Begin by explaining what symmetrical means. Show how the human face is symmetrical when divided down the middle. (e.g. each half of the face has one eye, half a nose, a cheek, an ear, half a mouth, etc.) Have the children divide their face with a piece of paper and check for symmetry. Show them that cutting the face in the middle the short way (sideways above the mouth) makes the face asymmetrical.
Now, it’s time to paint. Be sure the area is prepared with paint brushes, and that everything is on a paintable surface. Also, painting smocks or clothes no one cares about are a good idea.
Give each child a copy of the worksheet.
And tell them to daub paint from one of the colors onto the page.
Then have them fold and squish the paper across one of the lines.Have the children open up the page and see if the picture is symmetrical or asymmetrical.
Talk to them about how to know which way the paper is. Repeat until all three colors have been used, and all three lines of symmetry have been folded on. Talk about the lines of symmetry each picture has. For a greater understanding, have the children try and make an asymmetrical picture symmetrical. Ask reinforcing questions like:
Is your picture symmetrical?
How many lines of symmetry does your picture have?
What can you do to make your picture symmetrical?
Then, sit back and watch as the children play with the idea of symmetry and also see how the primary colors interact. My children had so much fun. We made pages and pages of these experiments.
And the afternoon was a fabulous learning and play experience for both of my children. My preschooler even retaught me the concepts covered, using her picture as an example of line symmetry.