It has been snowing here, much to the excitement of my children, which has inspired some paper snowflake making. Okay… a lot! This provided the perfect opportunity to explore symmetry and, specifically, symmetry found in nature. We pulled out some treasures from our nature collection as well as some nature photos, spent some time observing and discussing, then got cutting.
We chose a dragonfly, some leaves, a photo of a buck deer, and butterflies as our specimens. Each clearly demonstrates bilateral symmetry – when the object is divided in to left and right halves, the two halves are mirror images of each other. With paper snowflakes folded, my children drew one half of their chosen specimen along the closed edge. Each time they slowly opened their snowflakes, they were thrilled to see the entire figure unfold. Of course, snowflakes themselves are a great example of radial symmetry! If symmetry is a new concept for your child, there is a lovely post about introducing it to children here, along with some suggested books.
For a tutorial on folding paper snowflakes, try the directions offered here. Older children will be able to cut designs from snowflakes made with everyday plain paper, like printer paper. For younger children or children who may have difficulty cutting through thick layers, try using round coffee filters or even tissue paper. My five year old found it much easier and therefore more enjoyable.
So have fun searching out examples of symmetry in nature and creating many beautiful snowflakes inspired by them. If you give it a try, I’d love to hear about it.