Fun and Simple Symmetry Activities for Preschoolers
Do not underestimate toddlers. Their little minds are much cleverer than you think. My 2 years old daughter, Zoe, always wants to play with whatever her brother is playing with, including activity books that are way too advanced for her. I try to pick out pages that are more age-appropriate for her to do, but of course, she goes for the ones that she knows her brother prefers. The other day, she picked out the book on symmetry, and I was thinking, “no way she would have any idea what’s going on and she will give up on the book quickly.” To my surprise, she picked up the concept by the second page and we nearly finished the whole book! What in the world!?!
Therefore, to reinforce the concept of symmetry in more of a play setting than learning through a book, I designed some activities for her to do using what we have around the house. Since she was already familiar with the concept, she loved applying what she knew to the activities! We had lots of fun learning together and the math nerd inside me was having a blast!
Activity 1: Play-Doh Shapes
If you have a toddler at home, chances are you have a ton of Play-Doh laying around. We have a drawer dedicated to all the Play-Doh we have collected over the years from Christmas presents, birthday parties, and the random store purchases (“Mom! We don’t have that color!”). Along with Play-Doh, we also have collected tons of cutters and tools. It’s time to take them all out and discover symmetry with your child!
- Play-Doh knife (or pizza roller)
- Select a cutter that is symmetrical. For example, a butterfly, a dragonfly, or even a simple circle will do.
- Cut out the shape.
- Cut the shape in half using the knife or pizza roller along the line of symmetry.
- Show your toddler that the shape is symmetrical since both sides are the exact same when split in half.
- To reinforce the concept, stack the two halves on top of each other.
- Repeat steps #1-6, but with a non-symmetrical shape.
My kids love Play-Doh and can play with it for hours. However, I understand if Play-Doh is not your thing… it does get messy and I do find random pieces of Play-Doh on the floor or stuck on the chair days after. If that’s the case, read on and try the mess-free activities below!
Activity 2: Mirror Scavenger Hunt
Go on a scavenger hunt around the house for symmetrical objects! This symmetry activity is as simple as it gets, and what kid doesn’t like scavenger hunts?
- Any object around the house!
- Go around the house (or even go outside!) and find symmetrical objects.
- Place the mirror along the line of symmetry to show that the object is indeed symmetrical.
- Repeat steps #1-2 until your child wants to stop!
This activity is great because not only does it teach your child symmetry, it also provides an opportunity to learn new vocabularies by identifying different things around the house. For example, go through the fruit basket with your child and have him/her say the names of the fruit (or maybe even the colors!) before checking for symmetry. Go to a park and examine flowers, trees, leaves, rocks, or even play structures for symmetry. Go to the supermarket! Starbucks! Target! The possibilities are endless!
Activity 3: Cutting and Folding Cards
If you want to incorporate some scissor skills and fine motor skills with the symmetry activity, here is a good one for you.
- Print out the Symmetry Exercise Worksheet. You don’t have to print it out in color, but I think the pictures show the concept of symmetry better in color.
- Cut out the cards. My toddler loves using scissors, so I let her cut out the cards. I will leave this one up to you.
- Fold the cards in half along the line of symmetry. Again, up to you whether you want to do this or have your child do it to add some fine motor skills.
- Go through each card with your child and identify which shapes are symmetrical.
- **BONUS** Cut the cards in half along the dotted line and have your child piece the shapes back together.
This activity is slightly harder than the Play-Doh and scavenger hunt ones, but like I said, try it because you never know! My toddler loved cutting out the cards and folding them to see which ones are symmetrical. Then she proceeded to cut the cards in half and we mixed them all up so that she could put them back together.
Hope you enjoy these activities with your kids! The toddler years are the golden years when they think learning pretty much anything is fun, so capture the moment before they are gone!