Exploring symmetry is a fun way to see math and art working together. My son is very mathematically inclined and whenever I can show him how patterns and systems can also be artistic (such as in our tessellations activity), he is becomes much more interested in art projects.
Symmetry Art Project Tutorial
This symmetry art project is easy and uses just a few common art supplies. For a more complex math art project, try this rotational symmetry math art activity.
- Paper (we used large sheets of white finger paint paper, but any plain paper is fine).
- Painting medium of your choice. We used glitter glue, our favorite dot makers (from a previous dot art project) and regular tempera paint.
Fold the paper in half to make a crease, then open it back up and lay it flat on the table.
Paint, squirt or smash to your heart's content on one side of the paper.
Before the paint is dry, fold the clean side over the painted side and press hard, smoothing the paper.
Voilà! Now you have a lovely piece of art in which the left and right sides are mirror images of each other.
In the photo above left the art was created using a brush and blue tempera paint. On the right, the medium was glitter glue. My kid heaped mounds and mounds of glitter glue on one side of the paper before smoothing it out. Boy, he loves that glitter glue.
Next, he combined dot painters and glitter glue. In the above example, you can see the symmetrical lines of dots criss-crossing the page.
My little artist loved discovering how symmetry worked! I think he felt rather powerful having a controlled system to create an image.
It's impossible for me to let you leave without a couple of great book recommendations that use symmetry! (affiliate links below - purchases made through affiliate links may earn commission)
Round Trip by Ann Jonas is a fascinating look at reflection and symmetry. The book is meant to be read forwards, then turned around and read upside down. Your kids won't be able to stop studying this fascinating math picture book, examining how the mirrored images created two stories.
Seeing Symmetry by Loreen Leedy is a lovely look at the symmetry all around us, from animals and words, patterns on fabrics, and more. Kids are introduced to the concepts of horizontal, vertical and even rotational symmetry. End notes explain the concept further, as well as give activity suggestions.