Each task of the course is a quick math improvisation prompt. It has an activity base, and one variable you can change in it to start improvising. Feel free to come back to the game and change it as new variables are discussed. Or find your own variables, change them and share the results with us. Happy math improv!
Photo: Students at the Russian Saturday school "Znaika" playing live mirrors in pairs
Suggested improv variable: scale
How does the scale of a game change child’s attitude towards it?
Why do some kids happily play with tiny LEGO pieces or create intricate patterns out of beads? Why do others build rockets out of giant cardboard boxes or draw mural masterpieces?
Turns out, some kids are Microscopists while others are Gigantists. Microscopists prefer manipulating tiny objects that require fine motor skills. Gigantists love enormous structures and get more joy out of their gross motor skills. This may be an overall preference, or it may depend on the context. For example, your child may prefer tiny construction sets, but huge whiteboards for writing and drawing.
Try changing the scale of your kid’s activities. You may notice your child suddenly getting smarter, more creative, or happier. We have seen kids gain several years’ worth of skill development in writing, art or math just by scaling up or down.
Live Mirrors basic activity
For more details on why play this game at all and how to play it with children of various ages, check out the Live Mirror - Full Description post on our blog.
Stand in front of each other and mimic each other's gestures and expressions.
This is harder and more fun than it looks, because of movement and complex gestures.
It is a very quick game, just a few seconds. Some kids want to play much longer, though!
Infants - Let your baby lead! Follow by mirroring her gestures and facial expressions. Another version: hold the baby in your lap in front of another person. Mirror that person’s posture by moving baby’s hands and feet.
Toddlers - The toddler may start repeating your gestures and facial expressions. Help with hard positions by moving the child. Use helpful math words: up and down, vertical and horizontal, symmetric.
Kids - Use more complex motions - who doesn’t love twirling in front of a mirror - say, rub your tummy and pat your head. Try playing with four people and two mirror lines.
Adults - Find finger positions or body motions that challenge you. Help kids who get confused by mimicking them in return, or gently position them. Observe which elements are harder and which are easier.
Picture: Playing four-person, two-mirror game
These are big and important words that you can introduce to your child as you are playing this game.
Live Mirror BUZZ Words
Line of symmetry
Bonus: chirality is a quality of a shape that is not identical to its mirror image. For example, letter “A” is achiral while letter “P” is chiral; a plain pencil is achiral while a glove is chiral.
Photo: Yelena's son Mark playing with a NY Hall of Science interactive mirror
Live mirrors improv time!
Playing with the scale is a good opportunity to introduce quite a few math words and concepts in addition to the BUZZ words - big, small, bigger than, smaller than, same (equal) size, etc.
Try to change the scale
Play live mirrors outdoors or in a large room, with big huge movements like jumping, laying down, or kicking the air.
Play at a table, using just fingers to mirror small, intricate gestures.
Try giant or tiny objects, such as exercise balls or mini stickers.
With toys, scale down by using only one or two toys, or scale way up by bringing every toy in the room into the game!
Try finger play songs, like “Eensey Weensey Spider” (here’s the video)
With older kids, try drawing or writing (large or small - chalk or notebook!) while mirroring one another.
Good questions for kids
Send the class a short video or a story with photos about scaling live mirrors up and down.
1. What is your child’s scale? What is your scale?
2.What else do you notice about live mirrors?
3. Which math words did you use as you played?
Key question to repeat: Is everything symmetric so far? Can you check?
Similarities&differences question: Are our up and down the same? Are our left and right the same? So, if I move up or right, do you move up or right?
Quest question: Can you find a movement or a position so hard I can’t repeat it?