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Mandala Geometry

Combine geometric designs while honoring the entire universe! Discover how colors and shapes have meaning in traditional mandala art forms.

  • Grade 6
    Grades 7 and 8
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. The word mandala is derived from "manda" which means "essence" and the suffix "la" meaning "container." Circular mandalas are believed to symbolize the entire universe. Buddhist and Hindu monks who study this art form attempt to create a "container of essence." Invite student groups of 4 to research more about this traditional art form and study examples from a number of different cultures.
    2. Traditionally a mandala is divided into four quadrants, similar to a coordinate plane. To make a personal geometric mandala that is as authentic as possible, students begin by plotting a large circle on graph paper that have "X" and "Y" axes drawn, identifying several ordered pairs to anchor the circle. Students also identify the Point of Origin, ordered pair (0,0). This figure can be translated onto Crayola Color Explosion™ paper with a Color Explosion color-reveal marker. Find the center of the circle and create a dot. This symbolizes the seed that all life begins with and is the starting point.
    3. Historically, one monk is assigned to create each section of the mandala. Remind students that every detail in each of the four quadrants must face the center, or Point of Origin on the coordinate plane. Using the team's research, students design symbols on the coordinate plane that are most important in their lives. As symbols are translated to the Color Explosion paper, colors will be revealed.
    4. Student teams compose a summary paragraph describing their original mandala and explaining their choice of symbols. Post student writing with the mandalas in the classroom or in a school hallway.
  • Standards

    LA: Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.

    LA: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    LA: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.

    MATH: Understand that a two-dimensional figure is congruent to another if the second can be obtained from the first by a sequence of rotations, reflections, and translations; given two congruent figures, describe a sequence that exhibits the congruence between them.

    MATH: Describe the effect of dilations, translations, rotations, and reflections on two-dimensional figures using coordinates.

    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.

    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

    Possible classroom resources include: How to Create Sacred Geometry Mandalas by Martha Bartfeld; Sacred Geometry: Philosophy & Practice by Robert Lawlor; Explore the Sacred through Geometry by Paul Stang MA

    The Chinese and Native Americans also created mandalas. Students investigate the artwork from each of these cultures. Compare and contrast with the geometric mandalas from the Buddist and Hindu cultures.

    Students investigate color meanings in mandalas in their cultures. Create a second mandala using a different medium.

    Hindu and Buddist monks worked in teams of four to create mandalas. Students collaborate in teams of four to collaborate while creating an original mandala.


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  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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