by Flo Martin-St. Clair
Creating and describing a personal mandala, both orally and in writing, is challenging, stimulating and lots of fun. By sharing their personal mandalas with classmates, your students will discover – and hopefully appreciate and celebrate – the diversity in your classroom. This project allows students to utilize learned vocabulary to express their personalities in an artistic way. Appropriate ocabulary will need to be pre-taught to complete the various categories on the chart before they can begin, and class time should also be devoted to brainstorming.
The students first see a model and hear the teacher’s explanation of the project. The teacher models his or her own mandala chart and his or her own arts/crafts mandala. The teacher guides the students in filling in their own mandala chart. Next, the students take several days to create their arts/crafts mandala. They dedicate several days to writing a rough draft of their description/explanation of their arts/crafts creation. Students take another day or two to peer-edit/self-edit their written description. Students write the edited description on the back of their mandala. Finally, students share their mandalas and read their descriptions with classmates in a carousel setup for about 20 minutes. The teacher walks around the room while encouraging questions and discussion.
- Appropriate for all languages.
- Target language is used throughout the lesson.
- The word mandala comes from the classical language of Sanskrit. For more information about mandala projects, visit The Mandala Project, a non-profit website: http://www.mandalaproject.org/Index.html
THE SUN-SHADOW MANDALA
Setting the Stage:
Teacher plays soft music, such as Deep Forest,
that resembles jungle or forest sounds. Students close their eyes, relax in their chairs, take a few deep,
cleansing breaths, and become receptive to the questions they will now hear. ? (Give a moment or two for reflection after each question.)
- What animal are you most like?
- What plant are you most like?
- What shape are you most like?
- What number are you most like? (Don’t elaborate if a student asks what you mean by “number.” Simply repeat the question.)
- What mineral or gem are you most like?
- What natural element are you most like, air, earth, fire, or water? (For element, students can choose some aspect of an element, such as breeze, hurricane, tornado for “air,” mountain, desert, beach for “earth.”)
These symbols become the sun signs for their mandalas.
It is useful to do some brainstorming or clustering about specific categories before beginning this activity. You might want to spend a class period on each of the categories, with such questions as:
Plant—Are you a tree, a shrub, a flower, a weed? Are you indoor or outdoor? Wild or domestic? Evergreen or deciduous? Deeply rooted? Do you require a lot of care? Of food? Of water?
Shape—Are you angular or curved? Open or closed? Regular or erratic? Finite or infinite?
Number—Are you even or odd? A whole or a part? What is your shape–smooth and flowing or pointed and angular? Are you a single, double or more digit? Do you stand alone?
Students brainstorm a list of nouns and adjectives with several classmates, checking for correct spelling and then share with the class as a whole.
- Pass out worksheets (attached)
- Students then fill in Column One, the sun images.
- Students fill in Column Two with one word that expresses the single characteristic or quality that represents their choices. The word must be “just right.”http://www.mandalaproject.org/Index.html
- Now, the students are ready to move from the outward images to the inward aspects of life and to create a shadow image of each of the seven categories that will make up the mandala.
- Again, with the use of the dictionary, etc, they are to fill in Column Three with the antonym of the word in Column Two, making sure that the antonym is the same part of speech as the Column Two word.
- In Column Four, students write the animal (etc.) that they think is most like the quality described in Column Three.
- Students write a sentence that describes the single most important characteristic for each of their specific symbols. Encourage students to use the dictionary, thesaurus or library sources during this process.
- Students then write shadow sentences, such as
“Inside, I am most like a _________ because____________________________.”
DRAWING THE MANDALA:
Teacher tells the students, “Inside the frame of your paper (usually a circle), using color and shape but no words, draw all your images, both Sun and Shadow. Arrange in any way you like. (Artistry is not important. Students can use sumbols or approximations to illustrate their images, such as a footprint of an animal to represent that animal. Students can also trace a drawing to help them with their symbols.)
The drawings can take up some time during class and then finished at home.
The students will write sentences around the periphery of their illustration, providing some kind of frame for their work. Encourage them to write their sentences about all of their sun signs and one sentence about all of their shadow signs.
FURTHER WRITING SUGGESTIONS:
- Poems–such as haiku with each of the pairs
- Autobiographical incidents– “write about a time when you most behaved like one of your sun or one of your shadow signs.”
- Interpretation– “What character in a book you recently read was like one of your sun or shadow signs?”
- Speculation–“When are you most like your sun signs? When are you most like your shadow signs?
Accuracy and completeness of all written categories.
The mandala integrates all learning functions:
- Conceptual thinking (metaphor, image, symbol)
- Vocabulary usage (precision of word choices)
- Linguistic function (sentence structure)
The mandala activity incorporates all eight learning intelligences: