You can study art mathematically by looking for different types of symmetry. An object that can be divided with one line, resulting in a mirror image on both sides of the line, has bilateral symmetry. Faces and butterflies are examples of objects with bilateral symmetry. An object made up of similar parts arranged around an axis, such as a starfish or a propeller, has radial symmetry. Symmetrical items can give a calming feeling to a piece of art.
Write the word “symmetry” on the board. Ask your students if they can tell you what it means. Share some examples of real-world objects that are symmetrical. See if you can get students to define what makes these images symmetrical.
To help students grasp the concept of symmetry, distribute square handheld mirrors and have them practice making symmetry by holding the mirrors up to various objects. Explain that this is called bilateral, or line, symmetry because the symmetry is along one axis. Go back to the example images of symmetry and ask students to identify the line of symmetry in each image. Then, share examples of symmetry from the second-grade symmetry web site listed in the resources.
Read and share Loreen Leedy’s great book, Seeing Symmetry, with your students.
To give students a chance to practice and apply their skills, divide them into teams of three or four. Have each student use a digital camera to take a picture of a symmetrical object. Help each team transfer their images to the computer.
Have students import the images into a program like Wixie and use a Line tool to draw the line, or lines, of symmetry on each image. If you do not have a digital camera, have students find images from the Clip Art or Pics4learning folder in the Library.
Though our faces exhibit symmetry, they are not perfectly symmetrical. You can have students use Wixie to show how one side of their face is slightly different from the other.
Have students pair up to take a front view photograph of each other’s faces. In Wixie, have them open the image as a sticker and resize it. Have the students glue the image to the background, select half of their face with the Rectangle Selector tool, and use the copy, paste, and flip buttons to show true symmetry with their faces. Students should do this for both sides of their face, resulting in a total of three images.
Butterflies are common symmetrical objects. Share a couple of images of butterflies and have students talk about their symmetry. Make sure they can identify the line of symmetry that runs directly through the body of the butterfly.
Have students use Wixie or Pixie to paint a butterfly with a vertical body and one wing. Then, have them use the same technique they used for their faces to create a complete butterfly by selecting half the butterfly, copying and pasting the selection, flipping it and moving it into position.
Next, test students’ ability to think symmetrically by having them use the mirroring feature of the Paintbrush tool to draw another butterfly. Have students choose the Paintbrush tool, check the Mirror box on the Editing panel, and choose 2 for line symmetry painting. Starting in the middle of the canvas, have them paint one wing; the other wing will paint at the same time. Remind them to click the Undo button if they need to try again.
Print and post students artwork as a celebration of how symmetry can be used in art. After printing, have students work to sort the butterflies into groups, working to define attributes that make them similar or different.
Use the Import Pages feature to collect individual images into a class collection or book. Share this on your web site or export as a PDF or ePub to share with family and community.
As the students work on their line symmetry activities, assess each student’s progress to ensure that they understand symmetry correctly prior to the final sharing process. The final set of activities will help you assess their ability to analyze symmetry and express it through the creative process.
Loreen Leedy. Seeing Symmetry. ISBN: 0823427625
Line Symmetry http://www.adrianbruce.com/Symmetry
Symmetry and Pattern http://mathforum.org/geometry/rugs
Draw and identfiy lines and angles, and classify shapes by properties of their lines and angles
4.G.3. Recognize a line of symmetry for a two-dimensional figure as a line across the figure such that the figure can be folded along the line into matching parts. Identify line-symmetric figures and draw lines of symmetry.
6. Creative Communicator
Students communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats and digital media appropriate to their goals. Students:
a. choose the appropriate platforms and tools for meeting the desired objectives of their creation or communication.
b. create original works or responsibly repurpose or remix digital resources into new creations.
c. communicate complex ideas clearly and effectively by creating or using a variety of digital objects such as visualizations, models or simulations.
d. publish or present content that customizes the message and medium for their intended audiences.
New approaches to math improve fluency through the use of creative technology tools.
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