Materials: several papers, scissors, safe mini mirror, pencils
1. Make cuts in the paper:
If I make no folds, and 1 cut, how many cuts will there be?
If I make 1 fold, and 1 cut, how many cuts will there be?
If I make 2 folds, and 1 cut, how many cuts will there be?
If I make no folds, and 2 cuts, how many cuts will there be?
If I make 1 fold, and 2 cuts, how many cuts will there be?
If I cut on the side, will the cuts be in the middle when I unfold it, or will they be on the edge?
Kids liked this activity, even though it was a bit too hard for them. Even though these little kids can’t imagine things in their head very well yet, it’s still a good activity for them to do, so that they can improve their mental rotation, at an early age.
2. How can I fold a square piece of paper into a triangle? Is it possible?
The kids figured this out really fast. “Fold it in half diagonally!”
What about a triangle piece of paper into a smaller triangle?
This one was a bit harder, but still, it took them almost no time. “Fold it in half through the center again!”
3. Take turns going around the table, and ask every person to draw a shape on a folded snowflake. After everyone draws a shape, cut all the shapes out, and see what snowflake comes out.
This doesn’t exactly improve kids’ mental rotation skills, but kids learn that just from folding a piece of paper, and then cutting out pieces, can make a beautiful design. The snowflakes end up very pretty, and it gets the kids to pay attention more. It is a hands-on activity, and kids enjoyed it. Put the scraps from the snowflake into the recycling bin right away, because kids start playing with the scraps, and it is very hard to stop them! Also, do not give little kids sharp scissors!
4. Cut a piece of paper into a circle. Will a circular snowflake work?
The kids were sure that a circular snowflake was impossible, (arguing that a snowflake has sharp corners, making it impossible to create from a smooth circle), until we actually made one. It is interesting to see how kids respond to this question, and to see how they react.
5. Divide the page in half by vertical line; draw a shape on one side; ask the students to draw a mirror reflection on the other side. Check your work with a mini-mirror.
The kids were very happy that they were allowed to draw. Let the kids draw their own object also, and let them try drawing a mirror reflection over the line.
6. Easy snowflake symmetrical designs – color symmetrically. (Snowflake designs below)
For this activity, to get more teamwork, pass the design around the table, and let every child color one specific part of the design, and after everyone is done coloring, to see if everyone made a symmetrical design together. Teamwork is good for little kids.
7. Symmetrical movement (I raise my right arm, you raise your left, etc.)– work in pairs.
Wonderful! Have one child act as a mirror, and one child to be a real person doing the motions. When kids get to stand up and move around, they concentrate much better.
8. Get Othello (board game), and make symmetrical designs.
The kids liked this activity, and they took turns making symmetrical designs with me, and other kids in the group. This is very funny, but it is what I observed during the class: When I told the kids that the problem they were solving was a game, even if it wasn’t, the kids started getting much more involved in it, because they thought that it was a game.J