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Temporary henna tattoos or Mehndi has been a part of celebrations in India for centuries. Learn about this decorative body art and create your own design.
Mehndi, the art of henna painting on the body, has been practiced in parts of India, Africa and the Middle East for centuries. Dried henna plant leaves are made into a paste that produces a temporary dye that lasts up to three weeks. This dye is used to make designs to decorate the skin – usually on hands and feet. Mehndi has traditionally been used to adorn wearers for wedding ceremonies and other cultural celebrations. Designs can be intricate and include elements like flowers, swirls, dots and teardrops.
Invite students to research how Mehndi designs vary from culture to culture. This can be done individually or in small groups. Provide time for students to share their findings as a whole class.
Inform students that they will be creating a hand to decorate with Mehndi designs by tracing their own hand with the fingers spread apart on a piece of construction paper. Use scissors to cut out the hand shape.
Study pictures of Mehndi designs. Use a colored pencil to lightly sketch a design on the hand. Encourage students to make the design intricate and incorporate traditional shapes and patterns.
Students use a marker to trace over the design. Add interest to the project by using thick and thin marker lines. Make thick lines by drawing with the side of the marker and thin lines by drawing with the tip. Create different effects by drawing squiggly, jagged, wavy or bumpy lines with the side of the marker.
Allow time in the school day for students to share their original Mehndi designs with small groups of classmates. Once presentations are complete, have students compose a summary paragraph of their learning to be posted with their Mehndi hand design on a classroom bulletin board.
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