Invitation to create playdough mandala kidart
We've begun to play around with mandala art here at Rowdy Rascal HQ. I've been seeing lots of real neat mandala creations being shared across social media and was inspired to have a go with the rascal girls. Instead of printing out a mandala pattern for coloring, I wanted to offer a more hands on creative activity in which the girls could be free to use the materials how they wished to use them.
A mandala is a spiritual symbol in Buddhism and Hinduism. It’s a symbolic representation of the universe with an inner and outer world. The word mandala comes from the ancient Indian Sanskrit language and means “circle.” The geometric patterns are seen as a magical form, without beginning and end, just as the universe is believed to have no end.
Mandalas are ancient tools of self-knowledge that may allow us to achieve emotional balance, bring us peace and calm and push away stress. Some people find the drawing and coloring of a mandala as a form of meditation. As they focus on coloring in the patterns of the form, they relax, their mind grows quiet, and they may enter into a spiritual space. There is a relationship between coloring mandalas in childhood and the ability to solve certain situations or learn better in school. These days more and more schools are choosing to use mandala coloring activities as a way to calm and relax learners; helping them focus their minds and prepare for learning.
This particular invitation to create table set up included homemade playdough, our bag of playdough tools and some small containers of chickpeas, popcorn kernals, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. I also had a couple of images of some basic mandalas displayed on the iPad screen, which I used as a point of discussion when the girls came to the table. Neither of the girls are at the a stage of learning where I wanted to use mathematical terms such as geometric or symmetrical; but these would be perfect keywords to be used in discussion with older children. We talked about shapes, patterns and colors that could be seen from the images and I also told them a little about the history and meaning of the mandala, showing them the world map and pointing out India.
The three of us then set about making out own versions of mandalas using the playdough as a base for pushing our seeds and pulses into to make patterns. As I set about making the circular mandala that you can see from our image collection, they got creative with their own ways of using the seeds and pulses to decorate things that they were making.
It's always fun and interesting sitting at the invitation table, listening to the conversations and watching how the different approaches the girls take with their creativity. They used the playdough cookie cutters to create different shapes which they then decorated with the seeds and pulses. I particularly loved the fish and loved the use of the seeds to make the eyes and fins.
As they pinched, rolled and pressed the materials, I noticed that this was a great fine motor exercise which required a great deal of small hand and finger muscles to manipulate the small parts and push them into the playdough. Both kids were fully immersed in their creations and designs with a look of concentration and almost completely quiet at times.
If you plan to do this activity with preschoolers, don't expect perfect mandala patterns but the whole exercise was well worth while to see how they could interpret their own mandalas; and definitely something we will be returning to in the future.