Symmetry Space STEAM Lesson

By | 2017-11-16T13:04:25+00:00 December 1st, 2016|

I recently discovered an incredible lesson idea from art educator Natalie Waggenspack and couldn’t help but twist it a bit into a another STEAM lesson for you.  Natalie’s original idea was a study on value (tinting and shading color) and line using painted paper and white colored pencils.  I’ve extended that a bit here to have an intentional exploration surrounding symmetry in math and positive and negative space in art.



And just in case you’d like to see the artistic process up close, here’s a video that walks you through the steps of creating the artwork:

There are a few things that truly make this a STEAM lesson.  Here’s a list of what takes this to the next level:

Inquiry Idea

One the elements that separates a STEAM lesson from an Arts Integration or a stand-alone arts lesson is that it’s grounded in an inquiry idea.  This is an overarching question or problem that students are studying throughout the lesson.  In this case, students are considering how they’ll create their own artwork to reflect both symmetry and positive/negative space.

Selected Pairing

The hallmark of any integrated lesson is in a natural pairing between the content areas.  In terms of content, that’s reflected here in the choice of art that showcases the idea of symmetry and positive/negative space, as well as how both of these concepts directly effect the overall image.  M.C. Escher’s symmetry gallery is a great place to start!

Standard Alignment

Something that’s interesting in this lesson is that the standards are aligned, but feature different grade levels.  We did this intentionally.  Sometimes, you’ll be able to bump-up or bump-down a lesson depending upon your students, their previous learning experiences and the intention of the lesson itself.  We wanted to show you an example of how that can be done and still maintain the integrity of both contents individually.

For more free arts integration and STEAM lessons like this one, visit our Arts Integration Lessons page!

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Susan Riley is the founder and President of She focuses on teacher professional development in arts integration, Common Core State Standards, 21st century learning skills, and technology. She is also a published author and frequent presenter at national conferences on Arts Integration and Arts and the Common Core.

Susan holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ and a Master of Science in Education Administration from McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. She lives in Westminster, MD with her husband and daughter.

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