Section 4: Exploring symmetry

Key Focus Question: How can you use everyday objects to develop pupils ‘abstract’ understanding of symmetry?

Keywords: lines of symmetry; reflection; rotation; nature; open-ended questions; cross-curricular

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this section, you will have:

  • used group work to help develop pupils’ understanding of symmetry, including multiple lines of symmetry and orders of rotational symmetry;
  • developed a range of strategies including using open-ended questions to develop thinking skills around symmetry;
  • worked across curriculum areas to extend ideas about symmetry.


If you fold a blank page in half and open it out again, each side of the fold looks like a reflection of the other. When folded, the two sides overlap and cover each other perfectly. This is reflection symmetry. The ‘mirror’ or ‘fold’ line that gives these two equal reflections is called the line of symmetry.

Many mathematical shapes have lines of symmetry, and many living things are also approximately symmetrical in shape. This section will help you develop your understanding of symmetry, and try a range of strategies for teaching about it.

1. Using group work to explore symmetry