I have adapted and implemented the learning scenario ‘The Revival of Patterns & Symmetrical Designs‘ by Brendan Buttigieg, with my year 2 students (age 6/7). I chose this learning scenario as it involves arts-integrated activities which make the lesson versatile and which are very suitable to teach various concepts in the early years classroom. I chose to focus on shapes and symmetry through hands-on activities, which were implemented in two sessions of one hour each. The students were asked to work individually and in pairs, to encourage self-expression and collaboration.
I made use of the Europeana Collections to show the students diverse examples of stained glass windows. We discussed the colours, patterns, and shapes and the students noted that while some of the stained glass show mere abstract patterns and shapes, others depict characters and tell a story.
Learning about symmetry and creating our own stained glass
During this session, the students had the opportunity to explore and visualize the concept of symmetry using paper and paint. This activity made it very easy for students to understand the concept of symmetry.
In the next activity, the students cut out shapes in folded black paper to create symmetrical designs and were then given the opportunity to discuss what happened when they cut different shaped holes in the folded paper. I made use of open-ended questions to help them promote thinking skills around symmetry, like “What can you notice when you unfold the paper? What can you say about the patterns in your paper?”
Then the students stuck strips of different coloured kite paper on the black paper to create the symmetrical stained glass effect. They used mirrors to help them with the symmetry.
In this activity, the students worked in pairs. They were asked to identify shapes in their stained glass design, and construct these shapes with rubber bands on the geoboards. They also had to show the line or lines of symmetry in their shape, making use of different coloured rubber bands and mirrors to check that they had found the correct line of symmetry. Furthermore, they were asked to look for shapes that were created within their shape from the line of symmetry. This was a great opportunity for peer support and active learning as the students shared their ideas and solved problems together.
This activity encouraged students to be creative and make something aesthetically pleasant through the creation of stained glass. Integrating Art with Maths made learning more effective and open-ended. Through clear and shared learning objectives, and success criteria, the students understood the aim behind each task and this helped in keeping them engaged. Moreover, the students could assess their own, and each other’s work. This promotes students’ capacity for independent and self-motivated learning. A great follow-up of this activity would be an outdoor activity where the students would have the opportunity to look out for symmetry in the world around them.
Did you find this story of implementation interesting? Why don’t you read about the related learning scenario?
The Revival of Patterns & Symmetrical Designs by Brendan Buttigieg
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The featured image used to illustrate this article has been found on Europeana Collections and belongs to the public domain.