Inside: use our printable mats and LEGO® bricks to practice patterns and symmetry.
Oh, the things you can do with LEGO® bricks! You can practice number sense and addition, sorting and measuring, alphabet and sight words, and even science.
“A mathematician, just like an artist or a poet, produces designs.” G. Hardy
Learning to understand patterns is the basis for understanding much of mathematics. And if you can help your kids develop mathematical thinking, while they are having fun, everyone wins. I’m sharing with you the mats I’ve been using with my own kids. We’ve been using them for a few years, yet when my 8-year old sees them he usually asks, “Can we do it again? It’s so much fun!”
Don’t be surprised to see weird shapes with zigzag lines. My son demanded them. He enjoys this kind of challenge.
You can print our mats for your personal use here.
Are you ready?
Learning Symmetry and Pattern with LEGO®
The first thing to do is to get all your LEGO® bricks that are not currently part of some messy (but very important) project into one pile.
Pick out some similar pieces and line them up. Sorting, classifying, and ordering blocks is a great learning activity. I find that the best way to engage my kids in sorting is to simply start doing it. They always come over to see what I’m doing with “their” LEGO® bricks and start asking questions with one of them being “Can I, please, do this too?”
You can start by asking kids to create simple symmetrical patterns using a grid as a basis. You might need to demonstrate what you mean.
To make it even more educational you can throw in some questions: What is symmetry? Is your image symmetrical? How do you know?
Venture more into the realm of counting by asking: How many pieces did you use? Which brick has the most studs?
With older kids, you can practice adding studs on all the blocks to find the total.
Then you can move on to creating a simple pattern. At first, you create one half and ask the kids to copy it on the other side. This kind of symmetry is called a pattern symmetry. You can find it on frescoes, carpets, bridges, and snakes. It’s characterized by a periodically recurring pattern.
You can ask questions or ask kids to describe the pattern as they copy it.
Now kids can move on to using their imagination to create their own patterns from start to finish. This is our favorite part.
Talk about what you see.
You used symmetry in your building. You have put the same pieces on both sides. It is interesting the way you made the pattern with your blocks. What do you think? Oh, I see a skinny green brick, a bigger red one, then three tall bricks in a row… it makes for a pretty pattern.
Talk about recurring patterns like in borders and in heavy textile. You might even google some photos of Persian rugs for inspiration.
Now you can do the same activity practicing reflection symmetry. It’s also known as mirror symmetry because the image is not duplicated, but transposed, so the front becomes the back and the back becomes the front of the image.
Looking for more LEGO® ideas?
If you are looking for more LEGO® ideas, check out The Unofficial Guide to Learning with LEGO®