Monday, October 6, 2014

6th Grade Symmetrical Self-Portraits

Students will create symmetrical self-portraits, an activity that uses precise measurement to get beautiful results.


  • Closeup photo of each student
  • 8.5 x 11 white paper for printing
  • Paper cutter
  • 9 x 12 white construction paper
  • Glue sticks
  • Rulers
  • Shape templates (optional)
  • Crayons and colored pencils for coloring.

Step-by-Step Directions

Step One: First, I took a closeup photo of each student. It’s best to take it straight on, making sure the head isn’t tilted to the left or right. 
Step Two: Next, I downloaded the photos from my camera and resized them in Microsoft Word so that they took up most of a full page. Once they were resized, I printed them in color.
Step Three: Using scissors, I cut out each head. Having the head trimmed makes it easier to find the line of symmetry for the next step.
Step Four: Using the paper trimmer, I cut each photo in half, straight down the middle. I used the middle of the student’s nose to help me find the halfway mark on each student’s face.
Step Five: Students glued their half-heads onto a piece of 9 x 12 white construction paper.
This next part involves some modeling. Once you show the students how to measure, most can do it with ease.
Step Six: Using the ruler, students pick a starting point and measure how far it is from the line of symmetry. Then they measure that exact same distance on the opposite side, marking the spot with a dot.
For example, Eiki started with his eye. He measured and learned that the inside corner of his right eye was 1.25 cm from the line of symmetry. This helped him know that his left eye must also be 1.25 cm from the line of symmetry. So he measured 1.25 cm and made a dot there. Next he measured the distance from the center to the outside corner, making a dot on the opposite side.
Step Seven: Students continue to measure and mark dots all around the perimeter of their heads. Once they have generated a good amount of dots, I tell the class that they have made themselves into a dot-to-dot drawing and it is time for them to connect the dots! Once the dots are connected, they can really start to see their image emerge.
Step Eight: Next, students began coloring their portraits.
Step Nine: For the final step, students added a background of their choosing. Many used shape templates or rulers to draw symmetrical shapes and patterns. Getting the background symmetrical proved to be the trickiest part for my students, and I will definitely model this step more next time.

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