Heart shapes and symmetry

With Valentine's day approaching, there are a lot of heart shapes around, both in shops and on my Instagram feed! I've been meaning to do another symmetry activity with the small boy, and it struck me that heart shapes usually have a single line of symmetry, so would be a nice starting point for reinforcing the idea of mirror symmetry.

I wanted something where the small boy would create a symmetrical pattern for himself, rather than simply observing symmetry.  He's not the most enthusiastic about crafty activities, but he will occasionally play with paint with some encouragement and is a fan of stickers.  I decided to try two versions of creating symmetrical hearts, on two different days.  We started with a painting activity.

Painting a heart

I cut out some heart shapes from a sheet of white paper by folding it in half and then cutting a half heart shape aligned with the fold.  When opened out these give a nice symmetrical heart shape with the fold indicating the line of mirror symmetry.  I decided to start by just encouraging him to paint and, as usual, he wasn't very keen to do much with the brush.  He dolloped a bit of paint around on one heart shape, half-heartedly brushed it and declared he was finished.  So I suggested he fold it in half and squash it to see what would happen.  He was intrigued and did as I suggested, and then opened it out to see what had happened. 

Opening out the heart after squashing the paint

He quite liked the pattern he'd created and we had a look and I asked if it was symmetrical, and he confirmed that it was.  Then he wanted to do another one, and eventually we ended up doing all three of the shapes I'd cut out. 

Symmetrically painted hearts

The next day when his brother was napping, I made some coloured sugar paper hearts the same way as for the painting activity.  I then stuck some circular stickers in different shapes and sizes on one half of them, with the idea being that he'd complete a symmetrical pattern by sticking stickers on the other side.  He initially waasn't keen, so I showed him how to make the pattern on one of the smaller hearts and he decided to give it a go on a bigger heart. 

Making a symmetrical sticker pattern

The smaller stickers were a bit fiddly for his hands but he persisted and did a pretty good job of mirroring the pattern.  He talked me through what he was doing and kept wanting to check if he'd got them in the right place, but he was able to work it out for himself even if the sticking was a little wobbly in places.  We checked one with a mirror later and there was indeed a line of mirror symmetry along the fold.

Almost symmetrical sticker patterns

Neither activity lasted more than 10 minutes, but if you had a more craft-loving preschooler you could probably engage them for longer.  As it was, I hope it helped him understand the idea of symmetry a little more and enjoy a bit of play with paint and stickers.