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Peace Mobiles

Inspire discussion of basic human needs and world peace with this mobile design project. Integrate social studies, language arts, science, math and art lessons.

  • Grade 3
    Grade 4
    Grade 5
    Grade 6
    Grades 7 and 8
  • 60 to 90 Minutes
  • Directions

    1. Introduce students to the FAPE project (Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies). Explain how this program is providing art for American embassies in foreign countries as a way of promoting international understanding. Ask students to consider what they would contribute to the project if your class were asked to design a “peace mobile” for one of these sites.
    2. Show students examples of works by Alexander Calder, the originator of the mobile as an art form. Share books such as “Sandy’s Circus” by Tanya Lee Stone or “Alexander Calder and His Magical Mobiles” by Jean Lipman. Invite a science teacher to discuss how balance plays a role in the creation of mobiles.
    3. In social studies class, ask students to consider what they think may be some of the causes of war. How does a lack of basic human needs play a role? What about issues of religion, power and freedom?
    4. Discuss symbolism in art and language arts classes. What is a symbol? How can visual symbols serve as shorthand for big ideas?
    5. Ask students to discuss how they might work in small groups to create a mobile inspiring world peace. Remind them that a mobile often has several smaller mobiles within it. Suggest that groups concentrate on topical ideas such as nutrition, housing, health care, education, religious diversity, freedom of speech, etc. Ask them to brainstorm lists of visual symbols they could use to represent these ideas.
    6. Encourage students to consider a variety of mediums. Some may wish to create two dimensional symbols while others might experiment with light weight three dimensional pieces using Crayola® Model Magic or origami type designs. Those who choose to create folded paper projects might consider designing their own paper using Crayola Erasable Colored Pencils or Markers. Remind any who use Model Magic that when it is fresh from the pack it will stick to itself. White Model Magic can be colored with Crayola Markers. Provide time for students to create their visual symbols.
    7. Once students have completed their projects, lay them out on the classroom floor or a large table where everyone can see them. Encourage a discussion of how best to organize them. Should the class create one large mobile, or a number of smaller ones each on a different subtopic? Remind them that the more parts there are to a mobile, the more easily it can become tangled. As part of a science lesson, use a simple mobile to demonstrate how balance is an important part of mobile construction.
    8. Provide time for students to assemble the mobile or mobiles. Hang their work in the classroom. Ask students to observe the finished project(s) and individually write reflections on what they learned from the lesson.
  • Standards

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade level topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    SS: Identify and describe factors that contribute to cooperation and cause disputes within and among groups and nations.

    SS: Give examples of how government does or does not provide for the needs and wants of people, establish order and security, and manage conflict.

    SS: Recognize and give examples of the tensions between the wants and needs of individuals and groups, and concepts such as fairness, equity, and justice.

    SCI: Define a simple design problem that can be solved through the development of an object, tool, process, or system and includes several criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.

    VA: Describe and place a variety of art objects in historical and cultural contexts.

    VA: Employ organizational structures and analyze what makes them effective or not effective in the communication of ideas.

  • Adaptations

    Read “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes” and discuss how the origami crane became a symbol of peace. Ask a volunteer to research the history of the Peace Park in Japan.

    Create a math/social studies project examining statistics related to world poverty and malnutrition.

    With older students, discuss Franklin Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms speech. Look at reproductions of Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms paintings. How does a lack of freedom lead to conflict?

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