Rotation Symmetry: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Emily Hume

Emily is a Reading Specialist and Literacy coach in a public elementary school with a Master's Degree in Elementary Education.

Pizzas, letters, and squares - what do they have in common? They all have rotational symmetry! In this lesson, you will learn the definition of rotational symmetry and how to identify shapes that have it.

Understanding Rotation

Next time you ride your bike, take a peek at the wheels. What do you notice? As they turn, or rotate, the shape of the wheels stays the same. With each rotation, the way the wheels look does not change, which is called rotational symmetry, and it is not limited to wheels! Many shapes and objects have rotational symmetry.

Example of Rotational Symmetry

Let's check out another shape: a square. Grab a piece of paper and draw a square. Then, draw a dot in the center of the square. Don't lift your pencil up - hold it on the dot while you rotate the paper from one position to another, such as from vertical to horizontal.

What does the square look like now? Did it change shape, size, or overall appearance? No! It still looks exactly the same. You could rotate that piece of paper again, and even if it is upside down, it still looks the same. The square has rotational symmetry!

Paper with Square and Rotational Symmetry
Paper with Square and Rotational Symmetry

Other Examples

In addition to shapes and objects, letters or numbers can have rotational symmetry. Take a look at the letters in the following image.

Letters with and Without Rotational Symmetry
Letters With and Without Rotational Symmetry

Three of the letters in the image have rotational symmetry. Can you tell which ones? Write each letter on a piece of paper, then turn the paper one rotation at a time. After you move the paper, take a look at the letter. Does it look the same as it did in its starting position?

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