This is a quick and easy math activity for young AND old children…mirror books! Go to your local craft store and buy 2 mirrors. I bought two 12″ square mirrors from Michael’s. Alternatively, you could get them on Amazon. I recommend beveled mirrors so that they are less likely to crunch and crush against each other as you open and close your mirror book.
Place your mirrors face down next to each other and use duct tape to bind them. Lift them up and carefully begin to close the mirrors together like a book. The duct tape should have enough flexibility to stretch as the mirrors close together. If you did not get beveled mirrors, this is where you’ll hear some distressing crunching of glass. Or perhaps you will come up with a better way to connect the mirrors!
Now you and your kids are ready to play.
Use the geometric shapes that are in the bathtub or buy some pattern blocks or gather any other materials to place between the mirrors. Watch what your children do with them. Hold yourself back when you have the urge to reach in and move the materials around for your child. (I had to sit on my hands as I watched a child build a tower out of her shapes rather than lay them flat in a kaleidoscopic mosaic design, which is what I wanted.)
You role, as parent, is to ask questions and listen well to the answers. Here are some examples:
- How many of yourself do you see in the mirrors?
- Can you make there be more? What’s the most?
- Can you make there be fewer? What’s the fewest?
Put the mirror book away when your child is finished with it, but bring it out again sometime soon. Let them play with it again and notice what, if anything, has changed in the way they interact with it. Come up with other curious ways to use your mirror book – like placing it over a piece of your child’s artwork and watching the patterns change as they open and close it.
(Mathematically…your child will be playing with ideas of symmetry, angles, and angle of reflection. This activity can even be part of their understanding of infinity and connect to the concept of integrals. Happily, you do not need to know or remember the details of these concepts yourself. Just let your kid play. As they explore and talk to you, your child will unwittingly but effectively be working their brains in wonderful ways to develop curiosity, creativity, critical thinking, and communication skills. All of which are key to having and maintaining a flexible math mind.)