Lines of symmetry are imaginary lines that when drawn through the centre of the image, divide the image in half and both halves are identical reflections of one another. Lines of symmetry are a focus of geometry instruction and are typically introduced to children around the second grade. When teaching about symmetry, use activities that enable children to visualise these mirror images to promote a greater understanding of the mathematical concept.
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Use paper folding as a means to teach students about symmetry. Cut out shapes that are even on both sides, such as squares, circles, triangles and rectangles. Explain to students that in order to determine if the shapes are symmetrical, they are going to fold them in half. Model the procedure with one of the shapes, such as a square. Fold the square in half on either a vertical or horizontal line. Once folded, have children examine the shape, checking to see if there are any pieces that don't line up. Since all pieces line up, the shape is symmetrical. Open up the square and explain to children that the line in the centre of the shape is the line of symmetry. Invite children to determine if the remaining shapes are symmetrical, using the same approach.
Have students examine lines of symmetry by dividing pictures. Print out a variety of pictures that are both symmetrical and non-symmetrical. Explain to students that they are to determine whether or not the pictures are symmetrical by drawing lines through the centre of them to divide them in half. Again, model the activity for them. Show them how you would analyse a particular image and after analysing it, draw a line where you think the line of symmetry is. To determine if the picture is actually symmetrical, examine the image on either side of the line, pretending that it is folded in half. If the image matches up on both sides, then it is symmetrical. Encourage children to follow the same procedure to analyse the symmetry in the rest of the pictures.
Encourage children to draw their own symmetrical pictures. Offer students paper and coloured pencils and prompt them to draw pictures of items that are symmetrical, such as a person, a flower, a house or an animal. They may also add embellishments to their pictures with colours and shapes, but they have to draw the embellishments so that they are the same on either side of each picture.
Put kids' knowledge of symmetry to the test with this game. Divide the group into two teams and have each team form a single-file line. On the board, draw a picture and encourage the first two children on each line to determine if the image is symmetrical or not. The first child to correctly state whether the image is symmetrical or not earns a point. Continue drawing different shapes on the board until each student has had a turn to play. The team that earns the most points wins the game.
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