SYMMETRY: Balance In Nature & Education
|Butterflies: Nature's Ultimate Example of Symmetry|
With cooler days ahead, it’s only natural that kids want to head outdoors for exploration. Today’s activity taps into children’s natural curiosity by striking a balance between building skills, adding to a child’s knowledge base, and having lots of fun while doing so.
Teaching the concept of symmetry can begin at any age. As soon as a toddler is able to walk, he taps into his own natural symmetry to navigate his environment. As a parent or teacher, you can use that awareness to help your child make connections to symmetry in the world around him.
Age Range: 4 to 7
Time to complete: 45-60 minutes
Subjects/Skills Addressed: science, math, physical education, fine motor skillsACTIVITY DESCRIPTION: Children will use their reflections in a mirror to build understanding of bilateral symmetry. They will then gather leaves and use those leaves to identify lines of symmetry.
*Please note: For the purpose of this activity, when the term symmetry is used, it refers to bilateral or reflective symmetry.MATERIALS:
Full length mirror
Removable painting tape
Symmetry stick (straw or other straight object that can be used to visually divide a leaf or flower.
Leaves of various shapes
1. Prior to completing the activity, place a vertical strip of green tape on the mirror that is a bit longer than your child’s height.2. Have your child stand in front of the mirror so that he is visually divided in half by the tape.
3. Practice standing in various positions with both feet on the floor, keeping his head and arms balanced. Point out that each side of his reflection looks the same.
Ask: Is it easy to stand in one place when you look the same on both sides of the green tape? What do you think will happen if that changes?
4. Have your child raise his foot slightly. Then raise it higher.
Ask: Is it still as easy to stand in one place? Why do you think it takes more work to stand with only one foot?
5. Practice hopping on two feet and hopping on one foot.
Ask: Is it easier to hop on one foot or on two feet? Why?
6. Explain that when objects are balanced (have symmetry), they are able to stand better without falling. The same is true in nature.
Symmetry*: When you draw a line down the middle of something and both sides look the same, as if they are a mirrored reflection of each other.
7. Go on a nature walk to collect leaves and look at tree trunks. As you collect the leaves, use the symmetry stick to visually divide the leaves to see if they have symmetry. While many trees have leaves that are mainly symmetrical, there are trees with leaves that are naturally asymmetrical. Refer to the photos for examples of each.
8. Sort the leaves by whether they are or are not symmetrical. How many of each type are there?
1. Use construction paper to create your own special type of Symme-Tree. Fold construction paper in half and cut free-form leaf shapes. This is not only a great way to practice fine motor skills, but it also reinforces the concept of lines of symmetry when the paper is folded and cut.
2. Use the leaves that were gathered to create leaf prints by placing a leaf under a piece of paper and rubbing with the edge of a crayon. Once the rubbing has been created, use another crayon to draw the line of symmetry.
Another connection: Use wooden blocks to create towers that are balanced and towers that are not balanced. Which type of tower can be built higher? Count the number of blocks of each type of tower built.