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Mola Mural

Explore colorful fiber arts of the Kuna Indians. Work with classmates to create a vibrant Mola Mural to showcase contemporary and traditional motifs.

  • Grade 3
    Grade 4
    Grade 5
  • 30 to 60 minutes
  • Directions

    1. Get to know about Kuna fiber arts traditions. Invite students to find out about the Kuna Indians who live on the San Blas Islands near Panama. In this culture, the women usually create beautiful stitched artwork called molas. The shapes in this artwork often resemble indigenous animals or plants and are usually surrounded with ovals, dots, geometric shapes, or repeated images. Organize text and Internet resources for students to view during their investigation of this culture and their art.
    2. Provide an opportunity for students to share their learning about the Kuna Indians and their art. Inform the group that they will be creating a class mola mural. In preparation, students select a theme, such as fish, and find pictures of authentic mola patterns. Have students use Crayola® Erasable Colored Pencils to sketch original patterns reflecting the selected theme.
    3. Cut fabric sections for the mural. Select a light-colored cotton or 50/50 cotton/polyester blend cloth. Use Crayola Scissors to cut it into a pre-determined size of squares or rectangles.
    4. Working in teams of two, students design their molas. Encourage each team to outline the mola's main character in the center of the cloth with Crayola Fabric Markers. Make more outlines, each within the other, following the contours of the character. Add other bright colors between outlines.
    5. Students fill the space around the main character with simple geometric shapes. Halo some of them with colorful outlines, too. Fill the entire rectangle with brilliant colors. The team's mola is for display only, so there’s no need to heat-set the colors.
    6. Assemble the mural. Teams carefully trim their rectangles. Use Crayola School Glue to attach it to poster board to display with classmates’ molas. Have the class determine an area in the school hallway where their striking mural can be viewed and appreciated by schoolmates.
  • 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: Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.

    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: Draw points, lines, line segments, rays, angles (right, acute, obtuse), and perpendicular and parallel lines. Identify these in two-dimensional figures.

    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: Describe how people create places that reflect ideas, personality, culture, and wants and needs as they design homes, playgrounds, classrooms, and the like.

    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: M is for Mola Art: A Kuna Indian Alphabet of Quilted Folk Art by Susan Striker; The Mola: Traditional Kuna Textile Art by Edith Krouch; Magnificent Molas: The Art of the Kuna Indians by Michael Perrin

    Students work individually or in small groups to create mola designs. Designate a place in the school for students to post their pieces as a mural. Encourage students to re-create their original designs with fabric layers after researching the process. Students write the directions for the fabric directions in their own words.

    Students work in small groups to investigate the heritage of the Kuna Indians. Where are they from? How do they live? What part does art play in their culture?


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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