Symmetry might be a small part of geometry but it is a vitally important concept which links maths to the real word. Symmetry can be easily seen in everyday life. It exists all around us, in nature, in art, in our homes and in the mirror. Children naturally seek the balance and order of symmetry in everything around them.

Exploring symmetry/reflections (and thus transformations) enables the mind to recognise the complexities of shapes from many different orientations, with reflections being one of the easier of the two. IQ and aptitude tests always have spatial questions because brains that can reflect and rotate without interacting with the actual object are more efficient minds.

Symmetry is a spatial reasoning skill. Spatial reasoning is often linked to high intelligence and creativity. Spatial reasoning questions are a huge part of NAPLAN tests as they are a very good predictor of an individual’s future potential success.

Here is an example of an aptitude test question on spatial reasoning:

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The ability to match the cube of the net with the correct 3D image of the cube is a high order skill. It requires not only being able to use your mind to fold the net into the cube, but then to also analyse which sides and colours will be next to each other in the folded shape. I highly recommend reading this great article which discusses the link between spatial reasoning, intelligence and future success.

Here are a few very simple ideas to introduce symmetry into play.

Playing with Symmetry

Show your young child a picture which demonstrates symmetry like the one shown here.

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Photo credit: Prabhu B Doss / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Explain to them that the one side is a mirror image of the other side. Demonstrate this with a handheld mirror pressed down along the line of symmetry.

Walk around the house and the garden and collect examples of symmetry in the real world.

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Draw a line and create an image using objects from around the house and help your child create the mirror image on the other side of the line.

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Fold a piece of paper in half and then open it back up. Paint some shapes and colours on one side. Refold the paper and press down on the paper. When you open it up you will have created a symmetrical piece of art work. You have created the mirror image of your original work.

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Feature Photo credit: crimfants / Foter / CC BY-SA