During multicultural art week at Little Loft, I presented several examples of mandalas created with varied materials and in different settings. I asked the kids to share their observations and talk about what the mandalas had in common. "They are circles." Repeating patterns." "It looks like it took a long time to make them."
After that, I introduced the Sanskrit word mandala and they tried to guess it's meaning. Many of them guessed "circle." Correct! I explained that in Hinduism and Buddhism mandalas are a spiritual symbol used in rituals to represent the universe. A great discussion emerged about why a circle might be used to represent the universe. I pointed to a picture of two young monks making a mandala from colorful sand on a temple floor. We talked about how the monks use the mandalas as an aid in meditation. I had them choose a mandala to focus on for 30 seconds and asked them to share their experience. Some noticed that they seemed to move in and out. Some felt relaxed and hypnotized.
I explained that mandalas can be made with a variety of materials and that we'd be exploring mandala making with natural materials. Each child went outside to collect materials they wanted to use. Some chose sticks, acorns, berries and even dirt!
With our collection of treasures, we came back to the studio and I demonstrated how to draw concentric circles on a cardboard circle base. We used colorful beans and rice in addition to the found materials and I demonstrated how to add materials carefully to each layer. Listening to Indian classical musical set a relaxing tone while we worked on our mandalas.
Mandalas are a fun, creative way to introduce mindfulness and connectedness while incorporating rhythm, balance and pattern. Ideas for mandalas using things you may have at home:
Make a mini mandala with glue, beads and a yogurt/jar top.
Wet a coffee filter and use markers to create concentric or radial patterns.
Gather up all the tiny toys from around the house, this looks so fun!