Mandala in the classroom

So a little break from talking about the show, so I can talk about what we’ve been working on at the school! If you saw the earlier post, you saw the awesome practice mandala’s the first grader’s made. Yesterday, we made the big one, and it looks so gorgeous!


It’s so cool right?! These little artists making their own little mandalas and then all working together to piece together one big mandala. Inspired by the theme, art in nature and nature in art. I think you’d have to be completely art impaired not to love this.

So here’s the steps if you are looking for lesson plans–

Step one- materials- I bought a 50lb bag of river rock from Home Depot, these super cool metallic markers from Ben Franklin’s, little scrap booking rhinestones and some modge podge. The red paper used as backing is supplied by the school, but we talked about displaying it outside, and in that case I’m going to get waterproof tablecloths from the party store. Hopefully in the same color.


Step 2- I washed 50lbs of river rock… I would suggest you not do this in your kitchen sink like I did. Maybe pick a warm sunny day, take the dish soap outside, and use a hose. I plugged my sink, added soap and water and washed. Which may sound super dumb to you. But it sounded like a good idea at the time.. To be fair, I was getting sick and also working on preparing for my show at the time. So my head wasn’t all there. Maybe you haven’t figured out why this was super dumb. In that case, let me spell it out… I ended up with a sink full of soapy water, dirt, and rock slivers… Which I DO NOT want in my drain. So I had to drain the water by scooping it out a cup at a time and then sifting it to keep any rock out of my drain. Then I had to wash my sink really well with a sponge and paper towels and I got totally obsessive, but I can guarantee my sink was in perfect condition before I ever even unplugged it. And next time, I’ll wash rocks outside. 🙂


After that I picked out 22 of the flattest, largest, nicest looking rocks there were, and 44 nice, flat oval small ones. So each student had one large one and two small ones to decorate. I also made an example rock.


That was it for prep work.
In the class I had each student draw their main mandala on their big rock. I reminded them that the key to creating a mandala was symmetry and keeping it round. The best way I found for the kids to understand this was by breaking their “pie” into four slices. They measured by dots.
So for example. They would put a dot in the center. Four dots up, four dots down, four dots left, and four dots right. Then draw the outside circle. And anything that went inside one slice had to go in all four slices.
We mirrored this process in the big one as well.

After they decorated, the students lined up and I gave their large stone a gem in the center and modge podged them. While that dried, the kids lined up and one at a time used their small stones (which they had also decorated) to create the basic structure for the big mandala. I was really impressed by their ability to remember symmetry but use creativity. A couple students added in pine cones and used problem solving to figure out what to do with some of the last few rocks that didn’t have an obvious spot.
After that, the modge podge had dried and the students placed their special rocks, stood back, and admired their beautiful work. They were impressed, and so was I! 🙂



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About ndieckman

Artist. Writer. Yoga Teacher. Wife, and Mom of 3.

2 responses to “Mandala in the classroom”

  1. GinnieN says :

    This looks really inspiring. Those first graders are lucky!

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