Junior Shapes in Nature Activity
Create Bilateral Symmetry
Explore shapes and symmetry in nature by making a butterfly sculpture.
Time needed: 20–30 minutes
- My Digital Data Tracker (PDF)
- 2 wire coat hangers
- 2 pipe cleaners
- 2 large sheets of tissue paper
- White craft glue
- Markers or watercolor paints
- Glitter, stickers, or other wing decorations (optional)
What do hearts, snowflakes, and butterflies have in common? Symmetry! Symmetry is like a reflection or mirror image. When something is symmetrical, two or more parts of the object are identical after a flip or turn. Imagine our faces, an acorn, or an apple. A line of symmetry is where you could make a fold and both sides would be identical.
Imagine drawing a line from the head to the tail of a tiger, down the middle of a butterfly, or vertically down some flowers—one line of symmetry would create two identical sides. That’s called bilateral symmetry. “Bi-” means “two.” “Lateral” means “sides.” The line of symmetry divides the object in two.
Some plants, animals, insects, and even people have bilateral symmetry. Other natural objects, like spiderwebs or snowflakes, have more than one line of symmetry.
Hold a wire coat hanger right side up. Bend the hook down toward the “shoulder,” until it faces down. This should create one antenna. Repeat with the other coat hanger. Then wrap a pipe cleaner just under the hooks to attach the two hangers to each other. This should create the butterfly’s body. Pull or bend the hangars to shape the wings any way you’d like. Try to make both sides symmetrical.
Next, apply glue with your fingers to the coat hanger wings. Place the hanger glue side down on a sheet of tissue paper. Apply glue again to this side of the coat hanger wings, and place another sheet of tissue paper on top. Press down to get both pieces of tissue paper to stick.
While you wait for the glue to dry, plan your wing decorations. Keep in mind the materials you have to decorate your wings. Try to make your design symmetrical. Once the glue is dry, trim away the extra tissue from around the outside of the wings. Then decorate the wings with your symmetrical pattern.
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Girl Scouts at Home activities have been adapted from existing Girl Scout programming and optimized for use during virtual troop meetings or for Girl Scouts at home.