Classroom games for rotational symmetry

Written by amanda wehner
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Classroom games for rotational symmetry
Rotational symmetry math activities for teachers. (Sewer Lid Symmetry image by Tinu from Fotolia.com)

Rotational symmetry occurs when an object can be rotated around a centre point a number of times to match itself in different positions. Games for rotational symmetry can focus on this rotation movement around a centre point of an object. Using common objects that the children are familiar with allows students to engage with the activity in a meaningful manner.

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Make a Symmetrical Pizza

This activity involves the students' experimenting with rotational symmetry by making their own pizza. The students cut out a pizza using coloured paper to make the dough and sauce. First, draw six even slices onto the pizza using a protractor to make the same degrees for each slice from the centre of the pizza. Next, draw or make cut outs of toppings of the students' choice. However, students need to ensure that the toppings are evenly distributed and positioned the same in every pizza slice. Once students have designed their pizzas, the teacher can explain that the pizza demonstrates rotational symmetry by being able to rotate the pizza in a way that each slice can be superimposed on each other. This can be made into a game by cutting out two slices from each of the students' pizzas, handing two different slices to each student, and then having the students find students with their matching slices. Students can use rotational symmetry properties to find their matching slices.

Rotational Symmetry Rummy

In this game, students play a version of rummy in which they will need to recognise game-playing cards that show rotational symmetry, like a three of diamonds. Teachers need one deck of cards for each group of six or fewer students. Each student is dealt five cards as his hand, and the remaining cards become the draw pile in the centre of the table. On a turn, the player must draw one card from the draw pile and discard any one card from his hand faceup in a discard pile. The next player can take a card from the discard pile or the draw pile. The aim is for students to form a hand of five cards with rotational symmetry. The first player to do this wins.

Pinwheel Match

This game first involves students' making a pinwheel and then matching their pinwheel positions to a fixed outline. Each student will need two pieces of paper, a straw, scissors and a pin. First, cut out a square shape from one piece of paper, and cut diagonal slits from the four corners, about a quarter of the way to the centre of the square. Next, bend each corner across to the centre, and loosely fold. Pin the four corners that meet in the centre to the straw. Once the pinwheel is complete, the fixed outline can be made by loosely tracing the pinwheel outline onto the other piece of paper. This will serve as your matching tool. Students work in pairs to hold the pinwheels in place in front of the traced pinwheel outline. Take turns blowing on your pinwheel to match it to the outline. Every time the pinwheel stops inside the outline without falling outside of the lines, the student gets a point. The first student to reach 5 points wins.

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