Math Access for Teachers and Home Child Care Providers

Symmetry Game

Playing in partners and using Pattern Blocks, children will copy one another’s patterns.

Content Area Standard Target
• Geometry
• Apply transformations and use symmetry to analyze mathematical situations
• Use visualization, spatial reasoning, and geometric modeling to solve problems
• Recognize and create shapes that have symmetry
• Recognize and apply slides, flips, and turns
• Create mental images of geometric shapes using spatial memory and spatial visualization
• Recognize and represent shapes from different perspectives
• Recognize geometric shapes and structures in the environment and specify their location
Obtain the Materials

• A mat, divided in half with a clear line (line of symmetry) distinguishing the divider
• Pattern Blocks

Note: Small parts create a choking hazard for children. Make sure that all materials you choose to use for an activity or lesson with children meet safety requirements. Small parts are not appropriate for children who are 5 years of age or younger.

Introduce the Activity

1. Show the Pattern Block symmetry pictures to the children.  Ask them what they notice about the pictures.  Fold the pictures down the line of symmetry and again, ask the children what they notice about the pictures.
2. Explain the concept symmetry to the children (The two sides of the whole are exactly like one another) and explain that today we are going to use Pattern Blocks to play a game called The Symmetry Game.

Engage the Children

1. Demonstrate how to play the game, choose a child to play the game with you.  This game is played in partnerships.
2. Give the partners one mat.  The first player puts down one pattern block.  The pattern block is to touch the line of symmetry.  The second player copies by placing the same block in the same place but on the other side of the line of symmetry
3. Continue the game until both players have used 5 or 6 blocks apiece.  Point out that the designs they have made are symmetrical.  Explain that the design is symmetrical because each side of the line has blocks of the same color and in the same place.
4. Remove the blocks and repeat the game.  This time the second player starts the game.

• Point out real things in your classroom that are symmetrical. Show them to the children and ask, "Is this (object) symmetrical? Why or why not?"
• Create simple symmetrical pictures and some pictures that are not. Ask the question, “Which of these pictures are symmetrical and which of these are not?”  Have the children explain their thinking.

Encourage Vocabulary

• Symmetrical The two sides of the whole are exactly like one another (e.g., "Is the tiger’s face exactly the same on this side of our invisible line as it is on the other side of our line? If so, the tiger’s face is symmetrical.")
• Same – Identical in kind or quantity (e.g., "The design is symmetrical because each side of the line has blocks of the same color and in the same place.")
• Line of Symmetry – Divides an object or design in half so that both sides are the same (e.g., "The second player copies by placing the same block in the same place but on the other side of the line of symmetry.")

Glossary of MATH vocabulary

Supporting Children at Different Levels

Toddlers   Pre-K

Toddlers may:

• Need some assistance in recognizing the various details of their photo so they can better duplicate those details in their mirrored drawing.
• Need some additional symmetrical examples shown to them.

Pre-K Children may:

• Grasp the concept of symmetry and look for additional ways to extend their knowledge.

Home child care providers may:

• May just start the game with 2 pattern blocks and increase the blocks as the children’s understanding of symmetry increases.

• Help point out the symmetrical objects within the photo.  “You have an eye on this side of your face. Will you need an eye on the other side of your face?  Where should that eye go?

• Continue to point out the symmetry in objects around the room or in books.

Home child care providers may:

• Have the children go on a Symmetry Hunt around the room.  They can identify symmetrical objects around the room and draw these objects in a notebook.  Children should have a Math Journal readily available to record their mathematical thinking, reasoning and observations.  Share their findings.  Make a classroom chart of symmetrical objects in the room.

Books

• Seeing Symmetry by Loren Leedy (New York: Holiday House, 2012)
• What is Symmetry in Nature by Bobbie Kalman (New York: Crabtree Pub Co., 2010)
• It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles G. Shaw (New York: Haperfestival, 1992)

Music and Movement

Outdoor Connections

• Go on a Symmetry Hunt outside.  Have the children bring their Math Journals with them so that they can write down or draw all of the symmetrical objects that they notice.  If possible, collect some symmetrical objects to bring inside and investigate further.
• Read What is Symmetry in Nature? by Bobbie Kalman.  Allow the children to make connections to what they read in the book to that of their surrounding area outside.

Web Resources

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