Activity Introduction

Quick summary: In this lesson, students combine skills in Mathematics and Visual Arts to create mirrors inspired by Mexican folk art. They begin by viewing examples of Mexican paintings and observing similarities in the artworks. They subsequently connect their observations with knowledge and understanding of symmetry to create their mirrors. In this way, the lesson engages students in the interconnected nature of art and mathematics.

Learning intentions: Students will…

  • … create representations of rotational (radial) symmetry.
  • … apply a range of techniques from different cultures and times to create works of art.

21st century skills:

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: 

Year 5 and 6 Visual Arts

  • Explore ideas and practices used by artists, including practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, to represent different views, beliefs and opinions (ACAVAM114).
  • Develop and apply techniques and processes when making their artworks (ACAVAM115).
  • Plan the display of artworks to enhance their meaning for an audience (ACAVAM116).
  • Explain how visual arts conventions communicate meaning by comparing artworks from different social, cultural and historical contexts, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artworks (ACAVAR117).

Year 5 Mathematics

  • Describe translations, reflections and rotations of two-dimensional shapes. Identify line and rotational symmetries (ACMMG114).

Year 6 Mathematics

  • Investigate combinations of translations, reflections and rotations, with and without the use of digital technologies (ACMMG142).
  • Investigate, with and without digital technologies, angles on a straight line, angles at a point and vertically opposite angles. Use results to find unknown angles (ACMMG141).

Syllabus outcomes: VAS3.1, VAS3.2, VAS3.3, VAS3.4MA3‑1WM, MA3‑2WM, MA3‑3WM, MA3-15MG, MA3-16MG

General capabilities: Numeracy, Critical and Creative Thinking, Intercultural Understanding, Literacy.

Relevant parts of Year 5 and 6 Visual Arts Achievement Standards:
By the end of Year 6, students explain how ideas are communicated in artworks they make and to which they respond. They describe characteristics of artworks from different social, historical and cultural contexts that influence their art making. They work collaboratively to share artworks for audiences, demonstrating skills and techniques.

Relevant parts of Year 5 and 6 Mathematics Achievement Standards:
By the end of Year 5…They describe transformations of two-dimensional shapes and identify line and rotational symmetry.
By the end of Year 6… Students describe combinations of transformations. They solve problems using the properties of angles.

Topic: Art & Craft.

Unit of work: Learning Through Art & Craft – Primary.

Time required: 120 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – Students are given explicit step-by-step instructions for completion of the task, however may require support to accurately measure angles and/or trace and replicate their design.

Resources required:

Keywords: Folk art, tone, art, colour, contrast, pattern, repetition, unity, symmetry, rotation, balance, craft.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher Preparation

Learning intentions: Students will...

  • ... understand rotational (radial) symmetry.
  • ... apply artistic techniques from different cultures and times.

Success criteria: Students can…

  • ... explain what rotational (radial) symmetry is.
  • ... create works of art with rotational (radial) symmetry.
  • ... share observations about artwork from other cultures.
  • ... apply techniques observed in the work of others in their own work.

Teacher content information:

Art and Mathematics

Art and mathematics are often viewed as very separate disciplines, with art being more of a creative pursuit and mathematics focusing on logic and reasoning. These two areas however have many shared concepts. Pattern is a concept relevant to both mathematics and art, just as shape, line and scale all are.

Architecture and graphic design are areas that reflect the connection between art and mathematics, as measurement, shape, pattern and proportion become equally as important as  a

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Student Worksheet

Folk Art Mirrors

After watching the clip, answer the questions below:

•  What did you notice about the use of shape?

•  What did you notice about the use of pattern?

•  What did you notice about the use of colour and the tones of those colours?

•  The paintings shown did not show much use of texture. What was the impact of this?

•  Any other thoughts and observations.


Artist’s Statement

Title of Work:


Explain the inspiration for this artwork.

Explain the art elements and principles you thought about when creating your work.

Explain how/why you selected the colours included in your design.

Explain the presence of symmetry in your design.

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