Playing with symmetry in kindergarten

In our kindergarten classroom, there is a big mirror that is usually covered by a giant map.  And for good reason!  As soon as the students find themselves anywhere near the mirror, it attracts them like a magnet.  They make faces at it, wave at it, and just stare at their reflections.  They are fascinated by it.

This week, however, I began my math lessons by taking down the map and thus exposing the mirror.  I gave the students 5 minutes of free time in front of the mirror, but I told them to make lots of different motions and observe their reflection carefully.  I was going to ask them questions after the five minutes were over.

Here are some of the questions I asked:

  1. What does your reflection do when you wave your right hand at it?
  2. What does it do when you take a step forward?
  3. What does it do when you jump to the left?
  4. What does it do when you stick your tongue out at it?

The students had no trouble answering the last question and had a good laugh when I asked it.  However, for all the other questions, the answers varied.  We had to all stand in front of the mirror again and do the motions together.  There was still a bit of discussion about which hand the reflection waves when you wave your right hand, but quickly everyone was converted to the view that it was the left hand.

And then we moved on to some acting.  The students went up in front of the class, two at a time, and one person had to act as the other one’s mirror image.  Overall, they did a great job, but the hardest part was getting the non-reflection person to make their movements slowly.

Here are the students in action:

And then we made symmetric pictures on a checker board


drew second halves of symmetric images by folding them and holding them up to the window


colored them in, symmetrically

played “reflect my picture” using pattern blocks



Sometimes, when the students weren’t sure whether they made the reflection correctly


we checked it by using a mirror


and that helped them correct their mistakes.


Some students got creative and stacked their pattern blocks vertically.

IMG_3849 (1)

Symmetry is one of my favorite topics to explore with young children.  One other activity on this topic that I did not do this time around but a number of these children saw in the past is mirror books, described, for example, here.

What are your favorite symmetry activities?

About aofradkin

I enjoy thinking about presenting mathematical concepts to young children in exciting and engaging ways.
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1 Response to Playing with symmetry in kindergarten

  1. goldenoj says:

    One of my favoritest lessons at any age. Maybe try some mirror drawing, too?


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