With the ice and snow around our theme for this week’s Early Elementary learning activities is ideal – it’s just that. Now with how wonderful nature is we took the time to do some research on the computer about snowflakes and notice their symmetry and then take the idea of symmetry and use it to construct some symmetrical patterns in 1 and 2 reflective planes out of Lego.

Using LEGO to explore the symmetry in snowflakes - an elementary school activity on reflection symmetry in vertical and horizontal planes

Learning Objectives

  • Can identify and describe the properties of 2D shapes, including the number of sides and line of symmetry in a vertical line.
  • Can complete a simple symmetric figure with respect to a specific line of symmetry

Materials Needed

Access to visuals of snowflakes under magnification – we used a computer but you could print out or if you have a microscope and snow available use that

LEGO Board

LEGO bricks

Exploring Snowflake Symmetry with LEGO Activity

Start off by exploring snowflakes – talk about how snowflakes look when they fall from the sky, what are they like, discuss if you want the different sizes of snowflakes tiny small that are almost like ice pellets and then the fluffy feather like structures where the snowflakes have passed up and down in the clouds collecting more and more to form clumps that then fall.

Using LEGO to explore the symmetry in snowflakes - an elementary school activity on reflection symmetry in vertical and horizontal planes
Macro of natural sparkle snow flakes via Shutterstock

We then moved to the computer and using google images looked up Snowflakes under a microscope. My eldest was amazed by the patterns that they created he also found the fact that no two are alike and questioned how anyone could actually tell that as they haven’t looked at each and everyone under a microscope!

Once we had got over the patterns and how pretty they were I lead him to look at them from his Mathematics eye – in school they have been looking at symmetry with 2D shapes how a square has 2 planes of symmetry but a rectangle only has 1. He noticed that along the branch of a snowflake the ice formed a symmetrical pattern and then it was almost like it was turned and copied – rotational symmetry as well as reflective symmetry.

Using LEGO to explore the symmetry in snowflakes - an elementary school activity on reflection symmetry in vertical and horizontal planes

We then sat down and I explained we were going to create the same sort of symmetry using lego bricks – just the reflective symmetry starting off in 1 plane – the verticle and then moving to horizontal for the second plane and combining the two.

Using LEGO to explore the symmetry in snowflakes - an elementary school activity on reflection symmetry in vertical and horizontal planes

Using a flat LEGO mat I sorted out some white Lego bricks for him to use and placed a long brick in the middle of teh board and made a pattern of spurs coming out from it and left him to create the symmetry – he started out by just matching the pattern but ignoring how far from the centre they went.

Using LEGO to explore the symmetry in snowflakes - an elementary school activity on reflection symmetry in vertical and horizontal planes

Once he said he was completed we evaluated his symmetry and looked at whether it was symmetrical – it was easier to do this by taking each spur at a time and looking to see whether it was a reflection or not.

Once he had the idea of symmetry across the verticle plane we repeated it with the horizontal plane.

Using LEGO to explore the symmetry in snowflakes - an elementary school activity on reflection symmetry in vertical and horizontal planes

As an extension as he picked up the verticle and horizontal I set up a quarter of the shape for him to reflect through horizontal and through Verticle planes a challenge at the end to check understanding and show mastery of the reflection.

Using LEGO to explore the symmetry in snowflakes - an elementary school activity on reflection symmetry in vertical and horizontal planes

Other snow and ice themed learning activities

Using LEGO to explore the symmetry in snowflakes - an elementary school activity on reflection symmetry in vertical and horizontal planes

Snow Shapes with Penguin Shape Printable from Life Over C’s

Snow Prints Process Art from Still Playing School

Letter Learning & Spelling With Ice Pens from Preschool Powol Packets

Snow & Ice – Kids Arts & Crafts Activities from The Natural Homeschool

Simple Winter Science How to Catch Snowflakes from Lemon Lime Adventures

Antarctica Activity with Snow Dough from 123 Homeschool 4 Me

Snowflake 2nd Grade Math Factors from Look We’re Learning

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Using LEGO to explore the symmetry in snowflakes - an elementary school activity on reflection symmetry in vertical and horizontal planes

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Author
Cerys Parker

Cerys is a marine biologist, environmental educator, high school teacher and mum. Realising that life doesn't have to be put on hold and you don't just have to survive whilst the kids are young she shares ideas to inspire you to LIVE with the kids, with activities to do together, recipes to cook and enjoy and family travel to make memories to last a lifetime.

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