Tuesday, February 24, 2009

CENTERS!!!!
This week, kinder is learning a BIG word - symmetrical. And while the word may take them a little while to catch on to, they got the concept pretty quickly!
To introduce this word in my room, we are doing a variety of different centers in which students can have different art experiences involving symmetry.
For example, students may sit at one center and draw a symmetrical butterfly, which they then decorate with a symmetrical pattern. This was THE most popular center - so much so that I actually expanded it two tables.

I think it's important to mention that I didn't give them a pre-drawn butterfly to color in, or have them fold their paper to make the sides the same. We simply went over basic parts of a butterfly when I gave the directions for the center, and then they drew them completely free-hand.
In this center, I wanted the students to work on training their eyes and hands so that they will be able to look carefully at one side of their drawing and make the other the same. These were spectacularly beautiful, and exquisitely detailed! Some students cut them out when they were done.

Another favorite center involved using foam shapes to make symmetrical designs and objects. They made these collages by arranging and gluing their shapes (always remembering our glue rule: "Just a dot, not a lot!") Below, one student made a rocket ship; another made a cool design. Many students made multi-leveled designs by stacking different shapes on top of one another.

We also had a folding and cutting center. At this table, students could fold construction paper scraps and make symmetrical shapes by cutting out of the folded side. Many students already knew how to make hearts that way... but they were amazed at all the random, new shapes they could create! Often, when they unfolded their shape, it would remind them of something. One looked like a dog's head; another, like a bat; and another, like a dress. It was so fun to see the shapes they made and hear what they decided their shape looked like!

At the block center, students created buildings, designs and objects... always remembering to keep them the same on both sides! Check out the symmetrical birds and building with a long road below. So cool! I am amazed by the things children can build with simple shapes. Their imagination is limitless!

Other centers included:
- A table full objects for students to inspect and decide "symmetrical or not?" They held up pencils to determine the object's line of symmetry. They could also draw these objects and add a line of symmetry across the middle to show where the object could be divided to make it the same on both sides.
- A table with mirrors for the students to inspect their own faces to look for symmetry. I actually decided to make this the only table in which students were supposed to do something that was NOT symmetrical. They made facial expressions that were not symmetrical in the mirror, and then drew a large self-portrait of their faces showing that expression.
(This center followed a fun warm-up activity I use when teaching students about symmetry. I have everyone sit in a circle. Then, we take turns making symmetrical facial expressions; after that, we make faces that are NOT symmetrical. It makes everyone crack up, and pay attention! The students understand that if you raise an eyebrow, stick your tongue out to the side, or close an eye that your face no longer looks symmetrical.)
*Note: I often run the centers for two class periods in a row, changing out and introducing one or two new centers the second week. Many students work hard and spend most of one class period in their first center. The second week, we review the concept and directions, and then students can try out centers they did not get to do the week before. The "NOT symmetrical" self-portrait center is introduced the second week.

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