Symmetry sculptures


While I’m not a control freak, I have grown accustomed to having a lot of kids under my control at one time. And, I think I’m good at it. I run a fairly tight ship in terms of schedules and expectations, but am pretty relaxed when it comes to general raucousness and chaos. There are always a hundred things happening at once (and at least three kids talking at me at the same time), but we’re now at the point where Atticus and Ella are old enough to herd the crew into “unsupervised” play while I do the things necessary for our tribe’s survival (like cooking, packing lunches and drinking coffee).

While I do these things I get a kick out of the conversations I overhear (and the scuffles that they manage to iron out) and feel that, at some level, I’m still very much involved with what each of my kids goes through in his or her day.

What I’ve become to realize this year however is that I’ve definitely taken this for granted. We’ve made it through the first year of real school, where Atticus is gone for the whole day. A whole day where I have no idea what’s going on. A whole day where he’s surrounded by 23 other little terrors, also figuring out what it means to be properly social. A whole day where a lot happens.


Add the work schedule of a start-up business to this, and it’s easy to feel completely out of touch even though I’m actually around the kids – as a whole – a lot. I used to know every time Atticus learned something, got upset, went to the bathroom. Now, I am pretty much on damage control, carving out that one-on-one time if there’s a problem. The large majority of the time there isn’t though, which means, we’re in our daily groove and time is just flying by.

I’m still trying to figure out how to set up routines and habits so that I feel okay letting go (suggestions welcome!). Because, in all honesty, Atticus is just fine and thrilled to be able to step into a degree of independence and enjoy something that’s just his. I’m certainly not the first mama to lament this transition.

Luckily, his kindergarten class asked for parent volunteers this year to help break the parental fall into school. So, Nathan and I alternated being in Atticus’s class each Friday morning. It was great to have a chance to meet the other kids and get a sense of what his day looks like. It also gave me even more respect for the super-human individuals that take on the role of teaching 24 kindergarten students. Let’s just say, I’m happy to stay in the sticker business 🙂


A few months ago, there were the most gorgeous mobiles hanging around the classroom. I snapped a picture on my phone for future reference and last weekend came across it while culling my photos. I asked Atticus to teach us how to make them and he patiently walked us through the steps, excited to revisit the project. They are very simple, great for all ages, and look gorgeous.

It also provides context for discussion about symmetry (when Atticus got to the symmetry part, Ella (AKA our tattooed lady) groaned and said: “Ugh! I really hate having to make things symmetrical!” She’s a true left brained artist, haha!).


Multicolored paper strips. At least 5-6 colors, two of each, cut 2-3″/ 5cm wide.


1. Arrange your paper strips like a symmetrical sandwich, using only one strip of the middle color. Keep in mind the color combinations – it looks best to have lighter colors next to darker ones, or to make a gradient/ ombre effect.


Once we started using terminology like “sandwich” instead of “symmetry” Ella was totally onboard.


2. Staple the stack of strips in the center. Secure with three staple.


3. Start sculpting your paper strips. You can do anything: fold, cut, roll, stamp. The only rule is you have to do the same things on both sides.


4. Flip it over and do the same thing on the other side. You’ll have four flaps that all get the same artistic treatment.


Rolling and folding are good suggestions. From there, the kids each started coming up with their own ideas. Enthusiasm definitely builds as they start to see the flat stack take shape.


Each time they finished a new color, it was like a treat to see what color was next and they couldn’t wait to do something different.


Ta-da! They’re so dynamic, aren’t they! I really love these. So easy, so satisfying, and NO MESS!  You may find Nathan and I sipping some cocktails and de-stressing over a good symmetry sculpture later tonight 🙂


The kids each chose which way they wanted their sculpture to hang, and I stuck a paperclip through the strips and hung them from the rafters. They’re fun to gaze t while falling asleep! I also think these could make such fun party decorations or holiday crafts depending on the colors you use…

You could also prep stacks of stapled strips and bring them on a car ride or to a restaurant for a great ready made activity.

Have fun and let us me know how yours turn out. : )

Mo xoxo


Comments (7)

June 9, 2016

What a great project! I’m a teacher myself (but only working with my own children right now). It’s a nice mix of crafts and symmetry!

Maureen in California
June 9, 2016

The most amazing kind of teacher! This one is great in or out of the classroom!

June 9, 2016

I love this project (and how you manage life with 3 kids!).Thanks for sharing, this will be something we can easily do on a Wednesday afternoon when they start to get bored!

Maureen in California
June 9, 2016

Ha, thanks, Julie! I know you’re going to love it – let me know how it goes 🙂

June 10, 2016

Ok. I admit it. I am the gramma of this creative crew so I am wildly prejudiced. But I am also a math teacher and this just rocks. Mo, this is almost as creatively-mathy as those mandalas on the pipsticks page. And btw you (with my son as partner of course) are doing an amazing job of parenting my grand kids ! 💕💕

Stacy Gates
August 26, 2020

We made these today in art camp and they were a huge hit. Many thanks for the idea. I will be posting them on my instagram and will tag you. ManchesterArtsVT Cheers!! Stacy

Patti Wright
September 18, 2020

I love how your young children made a success of this! As an art teacher on the cart again, due to Covid, I’m thinking this is a great project for multiple grade levels: nice and clean in someone else’s room! What kind/weight of paper did you use and how long are your strips? Thank you.

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