My sixth graders are studying India right now (if you want my Smart Notebook file for my Indian unit, click here and look for the one entitled "Art and Culture of India"). One of the projects I have them do in this unit is mandalas. I've tried it several different ways, and this is the way that works the best for me (not necessarily the best way by any means).
I start out by giving them each a triangle/pie piece that I've made and copied on the copier (it's 1/8th of a circle that will fit on a 12 x 18" paper). Using compasses (I ordered new safety ones that I LOVE), students mark four lines, two close to the point and two further away. The then draw two lines connecting the marks they made and one shape, like this:
|On this one, you can easily see the compass marks|
on the lower line.
In the photo above, you can see the next step: cutting along the sides and leaving an edge along the top. I'm so serious that they follow these directions, that if they cut the top off I make them start over [which I never do, so they're shocked when I recycle it and have them start over]. Then they choose an oil pastel to color the back:
It's important that they color a nice, thick layer, because this is their pattern for tracing:
It's very important that they start on the edge of the paper, or they might not have enough room. Trace once (being sure to trace that upper line/top of the circle), move it and match up the lines, trace again, move . . . They can trace about three times before they have to re-color the back of their triangle with oil pastel.
After the tracing's done, they start coloring it symmetrically with watercolor pencils:
Confession: I use watercolor pencils because some color so slowly (or are so busy being social sixth graders) and some are so fast. Watercolor pencils level the playing field a bit with the "add water" step (some get to it, some don't). Here are a few "in process" mandalas:
|They were allowed to add things for interest with|
the watercolor pencils as long as they stayed symmetrical.
|A close-up of her value shading.|
For me and my students, this is just a good successful-for-everyone lesson that also reinforces some math concepts and teaches them a bit about another culture.
Teach on, friends, the end of the year is so close now!