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Tent Textiles

Mansa Musa, the Lion of Mali in western Africa, is part fiction and part fact. Students recreate brilliant textiles from this ancient culture using Crayola® Oil Pastels.

  • Grade 3
    Grade 4
    Grade 5
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Read Mansa Musa by Khephra Burns to students. The story shares the wonder and beauty of ancient cities and people in the western African empire of Mali. Encourage students to pay special attention to the illustrations.
    2. Organize students into small groups to conduct research to determine which parts of the story are fact and which are fiction. Provide time in the school day for students to share their findings.
    3. Distribute construction paper and Crayola Colored Pencils to students. Ask students to outline a large nomadic tent. With Crayola Scissors, cut out the tent. Cut a slit up the middle of the tent, stopping near the top. Using Crayola Oil Pastels, students color one side of the tent in neutral shades to resemble a camel-hair tent. Students turn the tent over and create brilliant tapestries and rugs using vibrant colors and authentic patterns.
    4. Instruct students to trace the outline of the tent on a larger sheet of construction paper. Inside the outline, students draw and color a picture of Mansa Musa surrounded by beautiful tapestries and rugs in various patterns and vibrant colors. Color the area outside the tent to resemble the desert landscape of sand and sky.
    5. Ask students to run a thin line of Crayola School Glue around the outer edge of the drawn tent. Position the cut-out tent over it so that the neutral side faces out. Press into place. Pull back both tent flaps to show the tapestries and rugs within. Place a dot of glue to hold flaps open. Air dry.
  • Standards

    LA: Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

    LA: Read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poetry, in the grade level text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.

    LA: Read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the grade level text complexity band independently and proficiently.

    LA: Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade level topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.

    LA: Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.

    MATH: Classify two-dimensional figures into categories based on their properties.

    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: Identify and use various sources for reconstructing the past, such as documents, letters, diaries, maps, textbooks, photos, and others.

    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: Integrate visual, spatial, and temporal concepts with content to communicate intended meaning in artworks.

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

  • Adaptations

    Encourage students to research the traditional clothing and turbans worn by West Africans in the 1300s. Students write a description of the articles of clothing and headpieces. Students provide sketches of each article of clothing to accompany the descriptions.

    Students investigate the history of West African empires. What were the primary characteristics of these cultures? What happened to these ancient cultures? Do any of them continue to exist today?

    Investigate the patterns and colors used in traditional West African art and designs. Students collaborate with classmates to create a patchwork quilt depicting various patterns taken from West African art. Display quilts in a public place in the school building.


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