We love symmetry games. They are beautiful, engaging and are usually quite challenging. At the same time they are easy to play even with the youngest children. These games are also great when you have more than one child involved and with children of different ages and developmental stages in the same group. Besides, this particular game does not require any advance preparation. You can play it any time anywhere!

Why Symmetry Games

Children are natural symmetry seekers. They look for and are pleased to find harmony and balance that are usually associated with symmetry, whether in objects, people or sounds. This simple game will help them develop a more precise understanding of symmetry.

Kids love this game because it’s so much fun to mimic others. Parents love it because it’s so quick and simple to set up and can be played just about anywhere. Plus it’s a quick way to release tension and resolve conflicts.

Math We Make in This Game

• gestures, live sculptures
• funky photos and videos
• symmetrical dances

BIG Math Concept

Symmetry

BUZZ Words to Use Throughout the Game

• Symmetry
• Line of symmetry
• Mirror image
• Axis
• Center
• Dividing line
• Bonus word – chirality is a quality of a shape that is not identical to its mirror image. For example, letter “A” is achiral while letter “P” is chiral; a pencil is achiral while a glove is chiral.

How to Play Live Mirrors

Stand in front of each other and mimic each other’s gestures and expressions. That’s it!

It sounds so easy, but depending on the positions and motions this can be a difficult (yet fun) game. The difficulty levels can be easily adjusted for child’s age and levels of gross/fine motor skills:

Infants - let your baby lead and you follow by mirroring her gestures and facial expressions. Holding the baby in your lap, mirror someone else’s gestures with baby’s hands and feet.

Toddlers  - choose large body movements or hand movements. You might need to position your child’s hands. You can also help (and add language development to the mix) by telling the story of your movements using math words, such as “up/down”, “left/right”, “forward/backward”, “front/back”, “sit/stand”, “in/out”, etc.

Kids  - add motion (who doesn’t love twirling in front of a mirror!), try more complicated movements (rub your tummy and pat your head), invite more people to add more mirror lines, aka lines of symmetry. Play this as a break game in math activities involving symmetry of equations, functions, or shapes.

Adults - find finger positions or motions that challenge you at your level. Help kids who get confused by mimicking them in return, or gently positioning their limbs with your hands. Ponder why some motions are harder to mimic than others.

Other Ways to Play Live Mirrors

• Manipulate dolls, plush toys, or posable toys to play this game. Finally, a Barbie and a Transformer that teach math!
• Add objects to the game – give each player a ball, a hula hoop, a large wooden block, or anything that can be held, stood on, sat on or in. This can make the game more challenging or less, and will give you a chance to explain visually the “my right is your left” idea.
• Take pictures throughout the game. They are great for scrapbooking, and kids love to take them. Pictures can also be used to play more math games! Suggest to a child to cut pictures in half (here’s some counting math for you) along the lines of symmetry. Or cut them yourself and then play a matching game with the pieces.

Higher and Deeper

• Tessellations are based on similar ideas
• Spatial transformations, such as translations and rotations
• Coordinate method in algebra and geometry
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