One of my most fascinating toys in my pre-k classroom has to be a set of colorful blocks and a mirror. The children in my class will sit for their entire center time, putting together designs and creating structures with the blocks, only to find it magnificently changed when the mirror is stood up behind their creation. It is a simple enough set that teaches some pretty amazing concepts to children.
First off, the visualization of symmetry in objects is completely engaging. Children can use one or two blocks, place them up against the mirror, and easily find the “line of symmetry” for the newly created image (the mirror is the line of symmetry). Even children who are not ready to fully grasp the concept of symmetry will find excitement and fun in creating symmetrical designs.
Patterns are also fun to explore with a mirror. Set up a pattern in either color or shape (or both!), then hold the mirror to extend the pattern. Children can get a true feel for the repetitive nature of patterns.
And, what about using more than one mirror? By bouncing images off of one mirror and onto another, a simple structure can become a masterpiece of intricate design, using patterns and symmetry to create an amazing sight. Playing with the angles of mirrors, children can explore how images are seen, the role mirrors play and feven ind all sorts of fascinating ways look at themselves!
The Mirror Images Game is the perfect set for such play. It contains 108 colorful blocks that are shapes such as rhombuses, trapezoids, and triangles. Also included are two acrylic mirrors, perfect for exploration by a couple of children or just one. The kids in my class don’t even realize that what they are doing is exploring mathematical concepts – they are too busy having fun!