Friday, January 23, 2015

Making Mandalas with Compass and Protractor

This mandala creation has really taken off, I know.

When I took the mandala-making class from Julie Gibbons Creative, I'd assumed that I was just taking it for my own personal pleasure and edification. I was approximately one minute into her first video tute, however, before I realized that mandala-making would be an EXCELLENT activity for the kids. Geometry of circles, radial symmetry, the proper use of compass and protractor and ruler, angle measurement, polygons... Excellent. Truly excellent.

Like the painted color wheels and the circle and hexagon drawing, this is another project that lets the kids practice how to use a compass, how to draw lines with a straight edge, and how to measure angles with a protractor. They also get to be really creative and artistic, though, and even my Will, who has much less patience for the fine motor activities of drawing and coloring in, became really invested in this activity and produced a mandala that she'd worked hard on and was quite justifiably proud of.

To begin, all the kid needs to do is use the compass to draw a circle as large as the page can support. I gave out regular typing paper for this, since I wanted the kids to do their coloring in with colored pencils or markers, and I didn't want to give them too much blank space to have to cover.

This alone is a great exercise for the kids, visualizing the area to be covered and then testing that theory, figuring out how to adjust one's circle sizing when the theory doesn't pan out:

Next, the kid will want to set up some marks for herself, to help her keep her designs symmetrical. I had the kids use the compass to draw successively smaller circles, then had them use the protractor and ruler to first draw a line straight through the circle at its center point, then draw a line at a 90-degree angle to the first line, then draw lines at 45-degree angles. This part is also how we made our color wheels.

When all the drawing and measuring is complete, the kids get to decorate their mandalas any way they'd like. This one is Syd's, decorated like a birthday cake:

I especially like the three-dimensional candle in the center.

This one is Will's:
 It's meant to remind one of a rainbow.

The kids are really liking making these mandalas, and I think that for Will, especially, it's a way to draw and color that feels comfortable to her. Even though we've been consciously working on art skills for over a year now, specifically to build Will's confidence, and her skills have improved, she's still not usually a confident artist. But with the protractor and compass and ruler that she guides making straight lines and even circles, she's got a starting place that feels good to her.


Tina said...

Those look fun and I love the new banner!

Unknown said...

Have you ever looked at the work of Sonia and Robert Delaunay with the kids? A lot of their paintings, textiles, and designs (Sonia even did a car!) look like Willow's rainbow mandala.

julie said...

Oh, my gosh, they are really inspiring! I can't wait to show Willow. I bet that seeing art that recalls her own work is going to be a huge confidence-builder for her.