Mehndi Hands

Mehndi Hands lesson plan

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.

  • 1.

    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.

  • 2.

    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.

  • 3.

    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.

  • 4.

    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.

  • 5.

    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.

  • 6.

    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.

Standards

  • LA: Read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of grade level text's complexity band independently and proficiently.
  • LA: Conduct short research projects that use several sources to build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.
  • LA: Recall relevant information from experiences or gather relevant information from print and digital sources; summarize or paraphrase information in notes and finished work, and provide a list of sources.
  • LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
  • SS: Describe ways in which language, stories, folktales, music, and artistic creations serve as expressions of culture and influence behavior of people living in a particular culture.
  • SS: Use appropriate resources, data sources, and geographic tools to generate, manipulate, and interpret information.
  • SS: Compare ways in which people from different cultures think about and deal with their physical environment and social conditions.
  • SS: Give examples of and explain group and institutional influences such as religious beliefs, laws, and peer pressure, on people, events, and elements of culture.
  • VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of experiences and ideas.
  • VA: Select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of ideas.
  • VA: Use subjects, themes, and symbols that demonstrate knowledge of contexts, values, and aesthetics that communicate intended meaning in artworks.
  • VA: Describe and place a variety of art objects in historical and cultural contexts.

Adaptations

  • Invite a native of India to speak with the class about wedding ceremonies and preparations of people from India. Prior to the visit, students compose questions for the expert. After the meeting, students post learning to a class blog.
  • Students research what holidays in India include the use of Mehndi as part of the celebration. Create a drawing to depict one of the holidays.
  • The ancient Egyptians also made use of henna dye as a body adornment. Students research how the Egyptians used henna. Organize research into an electronic format for presentation to classmates.