You can use great works of art to teach symmetry in your classroom. Choosing the right image does not have to be a daunting task. Symmetry lessons can be centred around historical buildings, traditional textile pieces, tessellations, abstract compositions or portraits. If you find the right balance of images to share with your students, teaching symmetry will be a breeze.
Architectural Use of Symmetry in the Taj Mahal
Examples of symmetry can be found in many famous buildings. One of the most famous symmetrical structures is the Taj Mahal. It is balanced into four repeated sections when viewed from the front. If you drew a line down the middle of the building's face, you would end up with two matched halves. The pool that lies before it adds to its symmetry by repeating the image of the Taj Mahal on its reflective surface.
Oriental Carpets and Navajo Woven Art
Oriental carpets traditionally use repeated symmetrical patterns. The outer borders generally have repeated patterns, and the centres use reflective symmetry. You can also use images of authentic woven Navajo rugs and blankets as examples of textile art featuring symmetrical patterns.
Maurits Cornelis Escher is one of today's most well-known graphic artists. Any of Escher's tessellations can be used comfortably with children in a classroom setting to teach symmetry lessons. A large number of his works cover entire planes with repeated patterns that interlock, giving the symmetrical images a sense of movement. Escher's works are sure to intrigue, entertain and inspire most students.
Vasily Kandinsky's "Composition 8" is an abstract suitable for classroom discussions of symmetry versus asymmetry. The artist uses symmetrical shapes in an asymmetrical arrangement to create harmony and balance in this dynamic abstract piece. The bright colours and shapes make this piece appropriate for use with students of all ages.
Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" is an excellent choice to use in the classroom when studying symmetry with children. The composition of this portrait is often referred to as pyramidal. (Pyramids are symmetrical shapes.) "The Blue Boy" created by Thomas Gainsborough in 1770 is another safe piece to use in your classroom with children. This noncontroversial piece has many classically symmetrical elements to review with your students.
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