Hand-drawn Mandalas and Lots of Love

I kept good on my promise to bring more interesting projects for the middle schoolers. A few off them expressed interest in math, a few expressed interest in flowers, and a lot of them expressed interest in more focused & detailed work. I planned a lesson about mandalas, starting with their origin (a symbol of prayer by Tibetan monks) and bringing it to modern use by us non-monks as a tool for mindfulness. I started the class by asking how stressed out they usually feel, on a scale of 1-5, at the end of the school day. Almost all answered a 3 or above. I explained to them the way working on, or even just coloring in a mandala, can be a focused and calming task to help ground them in the present. Many of them wanted to just color in, but a few were interested in drawing their own. I passed out graph paper and gave a simple tutorial: divide your page into quadrants, and mirror whatever you draw across all 4 of them. They really impressed me with their work, and when I asked how their stress level differed at the end of class, all said they felt noticeably calmer.

Some detailed hand-drawn mandalas
Usually, the girls prefer to color things in but decided to take a stab at making their own!

When we got to our second grade class, it was just five of them. For the second week in a row, we were working with a small group. We all sat at the same table again and did a group Valentine’s craft. We asked each student to start by designing a heart in the center of their page, and then pass it around the table and let their neighbors add their own flair to it, one at a time. It started off great, but by the time we had made it all the way around the table the kids were losing interest. I shifted gears and taught them to make a string of paper hearts by cutting along a folded piece of paper. We talked about what it means to show love, and how they each express it to their family. Miriam made me laugh when I said “I show my mom I love her by cooking for her,” to which she indignantly responded “Well, I don’t know how to cook!!”

Deydey drew rainbow hearts on each rotation of the Valentine’s group project.