6 Manipulatives For Teaching Symmetry To Little Learners

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Looking at a couple of similar artifacts neatly arranged on a shelf may often be serene to our eyes. One of the eminent reasons maybe because they are symmetrical. Even when we fold a piece of perfect paper at the center, we see a couple of symmetrical halves being formed.  Symmetry is everywhere, but the individual may be able to identify and relish this beauty. 

Ensuring multisensory approaches using manipulatives have been a preferred strategy to teach the practical side of various subjects. Even in the case of Symmetry, the use of these manipulatives may lead to admirable results. Moreover, who doesn’t want to indulge in exhilarating activities? 

Accordingly, we here picked some assistive manipulatives that can make learning Symmetry trouble-free. 

Symmetry is not just a math asset!- Which makes it further significant. 

Symmetry may be considered as a part of geometry which is defined as a proportionate similarity between two halves of an object or a couple of objects. While this context and background may sound it a math notion, symmetry is used in various other fields as well. For this reason, the need to understand it better becomes important. 

  • Symmetry in Biology: Repetition of body parts in an animal or a tree may need the researcher to use the concept of Symmetry. For instance, a starfish has rotational symmetry. Animals like deers are studied with their bilateral symmetry. 
  • Symmetry in Chemistry: While studying about various elements and compounds, their symmetry may be considered to determine their axis of rotation at heated temperatures.  For instance, for a water molecule (H2O), the axis of symmetry lies on the oxygen atom as it lies in the center of two hydrogen atoms. 
  • In Physics, symmetry may be used to elucidate the attributes of spacetime and particles under transformation-comparing the previous and later values of the same. 

Being aware of these applications, one may estimate how crucial symmetry is. Using a manipulative may assist them to learn faster with a bunch of edges like convenience. 

Easy symmetry learning- Manipulatives that help!

Comprehending the preferable ways to learn concepts like Symmetry, it can be inferred effortlessly that implementation of manipulatives often assists. Eleonora Faggino2 made a study to outline how manipulatives and digital artifacts can assist in learning Symmetry. The results of the study remarked that manipulatives could enhance the activity and potential of learning. Accordingly, here we look into a few noteworthy manipulative picks that may ensure finer mastery of the concept. 

1. Geomirror

Geo mirror

Geomirror is a translucent plastic symmetry manipulative that usually comes in dimensions of 9cm  * 15cm, which can stand on itself. It usually comes in Purple color.  Being translucent, it can reflect the symmetrical image of a pattern so that the learner can trace it on the other side. 

Employing  Geomirror in Symmetry Practice:

To start with, the student needs to have a pencil, paper, and a geomirror. The learner decides a line of symmetry at the center of the page and then draws an image on one side of this line. Later, they place the geomirror on the line of symmetry to see a reflected image of the art on the other side of the paper. Now, they can trace out the symmetrical image based on that reflection effortlessly. This manipulator may be a handy option to witness and learn reflectional symmetry.  

2. Symmetry Pattern Blocks 

Symmetry pattern blocks

Also referred to as Sloper in some areas of the US, Pattern Blocks are mathematical manipulatives that come in various geometrical shapes with multiple sides. These often ensure tiled practice of mathematical notions. These blocks often come in shapes like triangle, rhombus, trapezoid, Hexagon, and square. 

Pattern Blocks as Symmetry Manipulative:

To start learning symmetry, the learner needs a scale or a thread along with these manipulatives. They start with placing the scale at the center, which forms the line of symmetry. Now, these learners arrange similar blocks on both sides in a mirrored way so that the two sides of the scale form symmetrical figures. Pattern blocks can be employed as a classroom activity or as an after the school session. Kids may be enticed to build interesting mirrored patterns effortlessly, thereby grasping Euclidean Symmetry.  

3. Hinged Mirrors 

Hinged mirror

Symmetry in multiple dimensions can be perceived as rotational symmetry. To demonstrate this, precisely hinged mirrors can be put into execution. In layman’s terms, Hinged mirrors are a combination of a couple of mirrors hinged together to facilitate placing them at any angle. 

Opting Hinged Mirrors to Practice:

A piece of the block is considered to have at least two sides, say a rhombus tile. Now, the cube is placed in between the hinged mirrors in such a way that the sides of the tile touch the mirror. Soon, the learner can see the same tile is mirrored in multiple dimensions. The number of dimensions depends upon the angle of the mirrors. Set at 90 degrees, the student can identify three symmetrical images  (the real tile not considered).  This activity is often handy in demonstrating rotational symmetry; The edge is that it takes no time to arrange and infer. 

4. Cuisenaire Rods 

Cuisenaire Rods

A collection of rectangular cubes in different lengths, Cuisenaire Rods is a math learning manipulator that can be employed to learn various math notions like measurements, operations, and geometry. Accordingly, these can be admirable options for exercising symmetrical figures. 

Contriving Cuisenaire Rods:

 To start with, the teacher takes up some rods and makes a unique arrangement with a flat surface on one side. The students take a couple of minutes to look at the arrangement and start creating a mirrored pattern with similar rods. Here the flat surface is the line of symmetry. Being effortless to implement, these offer the flexibility to indulge students with varying complexities. These manipulatives can also be used along with graph papers to make symmetrical arrangements by the learner themselves, ensuring personalized practice as well. 

5. Exploragons 

Exploragons

These simple manipulatives come with a set of strips in various sizes. Exploragons come in strips that can be snapped to form interesting geometrical figures. These strips can be employed to create symmetrical figures considering an appropriate line of symmetry. 

The teacher may ask the student to create a specific figure with these strips and then ask them to find out the line of symmetry. Otherwise, they can ask the students to create two shapes that are mirrored and symmetrical. The young ones can feel it enticing to play with these educational sticks. Ensuring interactivity, these may be preferred for ice-breaking symmetry activity as well. 

6. Hygloss Blocks 

Hygloss blocks

These are a set of wooden blocks in varying sizes for basic building and educational purposes.  Hygloss blocks may be used to mark out the line of symmetry as a practice.  For instance, a teacher may give a block to the student and ask them to determine the lines of symmetry of the block. Since a three-dimensional block can have more than one line of symmetry, the learner may either use a pencil to draw these lines or use elastic rubbers to mark them. Being easy to enforce, these manipulatives turn handy in the classroom.  

Concluding thoughts

Symmetry may be pinpointed almost everywhere and all around us. Though classroom teaching is accommodating, the added flavor of multisensory approaches can excite students to practice more. While they can identify various symmetrical objects around, employing some benevolent manipulatives can soak them better in the Symmetrical sphere. Check out the above-mentioned choices to help in the feat by bridging teaching and self-support. 

References: 

  1. Leikin, R., Berman, A., & Zaslavsky, O. (2000). Learning through teaching: The case of symmetry. Mathematics Education Research Journal, 12(1), 18-36.
  2. Faggiano, E., Montone, A., & Mariotti, M. A. (2018). Synergy between manipulative and digital artefacts: a teaching experiment on axial symmetry at primary school. International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology, 49(8), 1165-1180.

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