Friday, December 7, 2012

More Mandalas!

Two months ago, I posted about a sub lesson I left for my substitute teacher about mandalas. After using it several more times, this lesson is a surefire success with 4th, 5th and 6th grade; and would probably work for 3rd as well! Here are some more mandalas created with my sub yesterday:

This sub didn't quite follow my directions on other lessons, but mandalas seem to always get great results, no matter what. So, I'm going to share a little bit about this sub lesson for anyone else who would like to use it. The substitute teacher gets white paper for the students (8 1/2 by 8 1/2; just copy paper cut to a sqaure), and three images of mandalas, and three how-to-draw posters of mandalas: 

Here is the lesson I leave for the sub:

4th, 5th, and 6th Grade Sub Lesson: Mandalas
1.       Greet students at the door, and have them sit in their assigned seats (see my seating chart in the black binder.)
2.       Pin the 3 color photos of mandalas to the chalkboard with magnets. I have a collection of magnets on the top of the chalkboard.
3.       Write the word “mandala” on the board.
4.       Tell the students:
a.       A mandala (muhn-dl-uh) is an Indian word for circle. Indian circle designs like these are called mandalas. You may want to clarify that this is Indian as in from India, not Native American.  (There are 22 official languages in India; this is Sanskrit. Mention this only if the students ask)
b.      Mandalas have radial symmetry. (Write “radial symmetry” on the board.)
c.       Ask the students what “symmetry” means. They should say that something is the same on both sides; that one side is the mirror image of the other, or something similar.)
d.      Tell the students that “radial” means it’s like a circle. Ask them, “how do you think radial symmetry is different from regular symmetry?” After taking a few guesses or answers (until someone gets it right, or until enough students have answered that you don’t think they’ll get it right) explain that radial symmetry means that each section of the circle is the same, all the way around. Instead of having one line of symmetry down the middle, you have identical sections, like pie slices, all the way around! The students may note that there are actually many lines of symmetry; they may also relate the word radial to the radius of a circle.
e.      Ask for ideas of things that have radial symmetry. Help the students along with ideas like a bicycle wheel, an apple pie, a snowflake, a daisy, a star, etc.
5.       Next, pin up the “how to draw it” mandala posters on the chalkboard with magnets. You can put one on the cabinets over the sinks so they all fit, or one on the bulletin board to the left of the chalkboard. Show the students how they start with something simple, like a swirl, a star, or a flower. Then they add something simple, like a curved line, a swirl, or a loop to each section all the way around. By repeating the same thing all the way around, the design becomes very fancy!
6.       Place the square paper on the supply table, and open the lid of the marker box. Tell the students that when you call their row, they will come up to the supply table and get a square paper, and a few markers.
7.       Tell the students to write their name and class code on the back of their paper with their pencil.
8.       Tell the students to flip their paper over, so their name is on the back, and make a simple swirl, circle, flower, star, etc. on the middle of their paper.
9.       Then, the students will add a design all the way around. They may look at the “how to” posters for ideas, but they may not copy them exactly! Theirs must be unique. Tell them they can take ideas they like from each “how to” but their finished mandala must not look just like mine.
10.   Monitor student work, and encourage them J. If someone has a good idea, complement them!
11.   Students may ask, “is this for a grade?” The answer is YES!
12.   If students misbehave, please take their names down, and tell them that they will lose a point on the project for each time you write their name down. Please warn them before you write them down (i.e. “Johnny, you are being way too loud. If I have to tell you to quiet down again, I’ll write your name down.”)
13.   If a student finishes early, tell them to make another one that is more complicated.
14.   When there are 10 minutes of class left, warn the students that they have 5 minutes left before clean-up time.
15.   When there are 5 minutes of class left, tell the students to put their artwork on shelf 4 (for 4th grade), shelf 5 (for 5th grade), or shelf 6 (for 6th grade), put the markers away, and quietly find their seats.
16.   Once everyone is seated, pick the quietest row to line up first. Their teacher will pick them up at the door.

And lastly, I'd like to include the PDF's of the "how to" posters that I drew, but I don't know if there is a way to make a PDF attachment on blogger, or a way to convert PDF's to images so I can just post them all here. Any ideas?


  1. Thanks so much for posting the whole lesson, Jessica. Such a wonderful gift for everyone else! Here's where I linked to your blog. jan

  2. You could take screen shots of the pdfs and post the jpeg files

    1. The problem is, there are 27 images! That would take a lot of work :-/. But I might do that eventually.

  3. Thanks for sharing. Good lesson for Divali, which is just around the corner!!!

  4. Hi Jessica
    I'll write in Danish - hopes its OK ;-)
    Du kan oploade din fil hos f.eks. Dropbox, Box, Hotfile eller hvad du nu har. Så kan du få et link, som du kan sætte ind på din side - f.eks. sammen med et screenshot.
    En anden mulighed er at hoste din fil hos Google. Du skal oprette en google sites konto ... men prøv at google problemet. Jeg fandt en god vejledning skrevet af en der hedder Don Caprio-
    Ved ikke om det kan hjælpe dig - men prøvede ;-)
    Held og lykke

  5. Well, thanks for the feedback, everyone. I will try to make my PDF's into Google Docs and upload them at some point; but for right now, if you want the how-to posters, just comment, and I'll email it to you! It's a PDF document with 27 pages (9 per mandala) that basically shows the students how a few simple shapes and lines can become complicated designs when repeated. The idea is not for the students to copy them exactly; it's just that the finished mandalas look really overwhelming, and breaking it down step-by-step makes it seem easier. Also, if your substitute teacher has computer access (at Carroll, our subs can't log on) this movie goes wonderfully with the lesson:

  6. Thanks for sharing this with us! Please do email me the how-to poster PDFs. I would love a copy.

  7. Thanks for sharing, Jessica. Could you email the PDFs to me at ~Sue

  8. I would love a copy of the PDFs please. Great lesson! Thanks!

  9. Great idea, incorporating math and art! I studied mandalas in my meditation class, and now I can do them with my grade 3/4 students. Could you please send me the PDFs? Thanks. ~Gail

  10. This is a really neat lesson, and something a sub could easily handle, in my opinion. I want to try this in my classroom. Could I please also have a copy of the PDFs? I would super appreciate it!
    - Cheryl

  11. Hi Jessica, thank you so much for posting this lesson! I'm leaving for a wedding tomorrow and always stress about finding a good sub lesson. Can you do me a favor and e-mail the pdf's? It would be an absolute life saver!!!!

    Thank you so much!!!- Libby

  12. Hi, awesome lesson, can I also get a copy of those pdf's

    Greatly appreciated.


  13. This is a wonderful lesson! Would you please email the PDF file to me? My email address is
    Thanks so much!

  14. This is awesome! I would love the PDF files! My email is msvannus @ yahoo dot com (don't want spam, so it's typed funky! Thanks!

  15. can I get the pdfs?
    thanks so much!

  16. Hi, great lesson, can I get a copy of the PDF.'s, thanks in advance!

  17. Awesome lesson! I'd love them, too. Thanks so much!

  18. Hi! I would love to have a copy as well if you still have them! Thanks!

  19. Please send! Love this!

  20. Hi Jessica. Could you send me the pdf as well? Thanks so much for the post and all of the great information! ~Nora

  21. could you e-mail me the how to's? Thanks for sharing your hard work.

  22. I would love to see the pdf's:
    thank you for the post - very clear and inspiring

  23. I would love to try this super lesson in my 3rd grade classroom art class. Possible to send the PDF's over to my gmail account: Wonderful wonderful thanks ~

  24. Can you send me the PDF also.

  25. The mandalas are a great lesson during testing when we have to push in to classes!
    I would love to have the PDFs of this lesson- thank you!

  26. I would love to try this with my class. Looks so neat. PLease send me the pdfs too.

  27. I love your lesson idea! Please send me the PDF's too!

  28. I love your lesson idea! Please send me the PDF's too!

  29. Used this with my homeschooling family yesterday with great success! Kids in grades K (hers wasn't exactly, uhm, symmetrical!), 2, 4, 6 & 8. Thanks for the presentation!

  30. I love this lesson. Could you email me the PDFs if you still have them and can? My email is
    Thank you so much.

  31. I'd love to try this with a 4th grade class at my son's school. Can someone please share the pdf's? Thank you!