The year threes at JHN academy in Oxford, have been learning about rivers, pollution and how it affects wildlife. I showed them the art of Ahmad Nadalian and they were inspired by some of his methods and techniques. I collected some locally source scrap and recyclables such as bubble wrap, water bottles, sequin waste scraps, sponge, netting, corks Etc and showed the children how to print with them using a small sponge to dab on the acrylic paint and then print onto A3 paper. I took the children pond dipping which was an opportunity for them to see first hand the types of creatures that live in an outdoor water habitat. I taught them how to draw a pond creature-a damselfly nymph, which they completed on water colour paper. They then cut out their drawings and gave them a yellow ochre wash. Lastly we bent the legs and glued the feet to their pond prints to create these final pieces.
By the hand, the white shrouded figure is led up to the scales of Maat. Jackal Headed Anubis brings forth the heart to be weighed and in the presence of the gods the Ba bird flutters above, awaiting its soul’s judgement. The feather of Truth is laid. The scale is set with exact precision and all is suspended in oppressive silence. The only sound to break the deathly hush is the drop of Ammit’s salivating jaw as she eagerly awaits her prey. Then with a clank, the heavy heart pulls down the scales with the weight of its evil, leaving the airy feather floating for all to see. It is done. The judgement has been passed and with a half starved snarl Ammit grabs what is rightfully hers. The evil heart, soul and Ba bird; all are devoured.
Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead- With a contemporary twist
I spent a day with Windmill Primary School’s fantastic Yr 6′s who created some superb Ancient Egyptian art with a modern twist. Do have a closer look at who the white shrouded figure being led by the jackal headed Anubis actually is. A leader famous for cruelty, death and genocide.
Ancient Egyptian mythology provides superb opportunities for storytelling
I story told the myth of Isis and Osiris to the children and then we discussed Hunefer ‘s famous papyrus scroll commonly called Hunefer ‘s Book of the Dead. (NB this is a colour enhanced version, to see it in original click here)
Here is my fantastic interactive version https://www.thinglink.com/scene/478359226985480193
The Art Work
The children were each asked to draw, paint and then cut out a figure, either individually or in pairs. I showed them how to draw an Egyptian figure using the Ancient Egyptian Canon. All the figures and elements in the scroll were measured according to this formula which kept everything in proportion. Below is the enthroned Isis, Lord of the Underworld, who will pronounce the final judgement over the soul of the deceased. This heart weighed more then the feather of Truth so the demon Ammit will consume it and the soul will not attain immortal life.
The All Seeing Eye of Atum
There is an intriguing creation story of the all seeing eye. It begins with the dark, swirling, chaotic mass of Nu before Creation was made. From Nu arose Atum, and he was alone. He created a hill named Ben Ben, upon which he could stand and with his shadow he created a son and a daughter. Atum spat out his son Shu, god of air and his daughter he coughed out, she was Tefnut the goddess of moisture.
Tefnut and Shu had two children. The sky goddess Nut whose star studded body arches across the sky and gives birth to the sun every day. The other child was Geb the god of the earth and growing things. Nut and Geb always wish to be together but Shu keeps them apart so that creation can exist between them.
Once, Atum lost his children Shu and Tefnut in the chaos of Nu and was frantically looking for them. He sent his ‘all seeing eye’ around Creation to look for Shu and Tefnut and eventually the eye found them and brought them back to their desperate father. He was overjoyed and cried tears of happiness. It is from these tears of joy that the first humans were created.
Children created the All Seeing Eye or Eye of Horus
Having story told several myths relating to the ‘all seeing eye’, I asked the children to look at their own eye in a mirror. The concentration was almost tangible as I talked them through observing the light, shadows, reflections and shapes in their eyes. After this observation they then began to draw the outlined shape of their eye on A3 paper and worked on observing and drawing the detail. The last step was to turn it into the eye of Horus.
The Eye of Horus
Horus is the son of Osiris who was brutally murdered by his jealous and evil brother Seth. Horus wishes to avenge his father’s murder and reclaim the throne of Egypt from his evil uncle, so he challenges Seth. An eighty year long battle ensues and in one particularly difficult fight Seth gauges out Horus ‘s left eye and breaks it into six tiny pieces. However with the help of his mother Isis and Thoth the god of medicine, the eye is restored and returned to Horus who gives it as a gift to his father Osiris. Although the eye is restored, it never regains it’s original brightness and thus represents the moon and is a symbol of protection against evil, of rebirth, regeneration and healing.
- http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/eyeofhorusandre.htm More about the eye of Horus.
- http://www.sacred-texts.com/egy/ael/ael11.htm Adult translation of the texts relating the battles between Set/Seth and Horus.
- http://www.ancientegypt.co.uk/gods/home.html More about ancient Egyptian gods and goddesses-for kids.
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTy49JlgJZE Ancient Egyptian Creations Myth made simple.
- http://www.landofpyramids.org/index.htm Amazing website full of accessible interesting information about ancient Egyptian gods, myths, symbols etc.
- http://www.childrensuniversity.manchester.ac.uk/interactives/history/egypt/egyptiangod/ Another interactive website with facts for children about everything ancient Egyptian.
- http://www.egyptianmyths.net/udjat.htm Very informative site.
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntnBuQAvFjA Listen to this musician’s interpretation of ancient Egyptian music-he actually sings in ancient Egyptian!!!
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OipmPbe1ezs Funny Horrible Histories video about the different Egyptian gods especially Ammit the devourer.
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBGVcnFAmrg Animation of Seth’s killing of his brother Osiris.
- http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/egyptians/ BBC kids learning-Ancient Egyptians.
Bring ‘The Romans’ to Life
Here are some good ideas for covering the topic of ‘The Romans’ with children, including making Roman weaponry, mosaic designs, storytelling, a class assembly, making props and displays.
Another child discovered that some Romans drank blood, so we died tissues red with food colouring and put it in a plastic cup to use in our news round assembly and on our class display.
Two wire hooks on the back of the shields for the handle.My favourite are the gladiator sandals!!!
This is a lovely activity to do with children, and the more adult support you have then the better the peg dolls look. The children I’ve been working with made some Christmas themed peg dolls using old fabric scraps, lots of imagination and some adult help with preparing resources. They were hoping to make the dolls to sell at the school Christmas fair.
Brain Wave: One of the teachers also had the fantastic idea of making up packs of peg doll parts so that other children could buy them and make their own at home.
Choir of angels
The angel was the most tricky to make with it’ s lace wings, under garment made of wrapped piece of cream rectangular fabric held in place with a rubber band ‘belt’. The wings and wool hair were attached with copydex, but a glue gun would have worked too.
The golden cape was a thin rectangular piece of shiny fabric, which I glued onto the chest, the pipe cleaner arms were wrapped around the neck like a scarf and then modeled into place. The paper book was first decorated and then glued to the arms with copy dex, the sequins were glued onto the skirt. Varnish face before using pen for features.
‘Gold I bring…’
One of the three kings: the crown is made of silver paper, arms of black pipe cleaner, black string to hang him up and gold ribbon for the belt. The over coat is cut from one strip of fabric with a hole in the middle to fit over the head, this covers a rectangular piece of fabric wrapped around the peg (like an under garment) and held in place with a rubber band. The only glue needed was to attach the crown to the head and the present to the arms-prit stick works.
To get a darker complexion for the shepherd you need to varnish the face/head first. Then use brown felt tip all over and put hair and features on with fine permanent black marker.
He had pipe cleaners for the arms and half a one for the shepherd’s hook. His cloak was one strip of fabric with a hole in the middle rather like the kings-just in more shepherd-like colours. He also had an undergarment held in place with a rubber band ‘belt’. Use string for the belt, no glue needed for shepherd at all.
I will also post a few tips for anyone hoping to do jewellery making with children. As well as how to roll your own paper bead.
HERE YOU ARE YEAR FOUR . . . WELL DONE, I’M REALLY PROUD!
Laminated collage medallion
Children cut out chosen parts of a leaflet and stuck them to a cardboard circle. They decorated it with fine pen and then laminated it (with adult supervision). It was strung onto cord as a necklace.
Paper plane pendent
Children made a paper plane out of scrap paper to practice, then made a mini one out of a small leaflet rectangle. They glued down the flaps, varnished it and punched the holes. It was then strung onto cord as a pendent.
Paper Freedom Beads
We made ‘Freedom Beads’ from paper. We wrote a short message or word like ‘LOVE ‘ or ‘FREEDOM’ inside the paper strips, then we rolled the strip into a bead and painted them with nail varnish to waterproof them.
- I prepared the strips of paper for the beads before the sessions, and bought glass filler beads and waxed cord for stringing, which I pre cut to bracelet/necklace size.
- I also drew out (cereal box) card board circles which children could cut out and use as the base for their collage medallion.
- If you have boys and girls together in the class you will need to plan a choice of activities to accommodate for the less dexterous, and the macho lad! (I had a few football leaflets that came in handy!)
- Having a few arty adults to take each activity is essential.
- Create an Interactive White board presentation that gives children the history of Slave beads.
This post is the second of a few explaining exciting art ideas that you could do with KS2 children, linking with the RE topic of Islam. I have included some background information for anyone unsure about Islam and mosques at the end.
Class of 30-divide children into 5 groups of 6. Allow about 3 lessons to complete project.
The Project Idea
- To use recyclable materials, mixed techniques and media to create a model of a mosque.
- To understand why a mosque is shaped the way it is.
- To begin to understand the deeper symbols and meanings behind the art and architecture within/on a mosque.
What you need-Lesson 1
- Interactive White Board images of famous mosques from all over the world (see below).
- Images of Islamic geometric patterns. Some photocopies for reference per table.
- Laptops for paired/individual research.
- Children’s sketch books/project book or A3 paper.
- Pencils, colouring pencils.
- Graph paper with different base patterns, squares, triangles, hexagons and octagons.
Look at images of mosques: (would be great if children have had an opportunity to actually visit a mosque). Compare purely functional mosques to the highly decorated Ottoman ones. This mosque has been rebuilt but stands in the place where the first ever mosque was built, the first ever mosque was very simple, it had palm tree pillars for walls, a partial roof and was undecorated. Also show this gorgeous mud mosque in Mali. Lastly look at the incredible golden Dome of the rock.
Features of mosques: How mosques are used - BBC learning zone clip.
https://www.thinglink.com/scene/452209750663233538 (link to an interactive mosque drawing I did)
Discussion: Talk about what a mosque is, what it is for, who it is special for and why. You would need to have covered such topics as Who are Muslims, and what do they believe? Also discuss the parts of a mosque, what they are for and how they are used.
Design: Get the children to work on designing their own mosque on paper. This would probably be the outside of it. Get them to think about how many minarets it will have, what shape the main building will be, will it be a pointy dome or a round flat dome? What shape are the windows and doors? Will it be like a very early mosque that is less decorated? or will it be covered in decoration?
Decoration: Using the reference material photocopies and laptops children can explore Islamic patterns, sketch them and decide on some designs that they might use to decorate their mosques. These can be drawn onto their designs. Children could try using graph paper to design a tessellation. They could use 2D shapes to create a pattern, photograph it, print it and use it on the mosque. This could be linked to a study of tessellation in maths.
Colour: Children can then use the research they’ve done to colour in the designs in appropriate colours. They can draw in stained glass windows, mosaics, arabic writing, tiles, coloured dome, crescent moon and star. These should be sketches and explorations, not finished work.
Plan: Children need to indicate on their design which parts of the mosque they will make out of what sort of recyclable material. An obvious one would be to use an empty kitchen roll for the minaret. They can also make diagrams of how to manipulate materials to get the desired shape/design.
What you need-Lesson 2 & 3
For the mosque.
- Several domed shaped plastic bowls or blown up baloon.
- Wall paper paste for papie mache-made up into ‘gloop’, one per table.
- Cardboard boxes, one per table and wrapping paper and kitchen rolls, cereal boxes, larger piece of firm cardboard for mosque to stand on.
- Glue stick, glue gun-adult supervision required, scissors.
For the windows:
- Tracing paper or acetate.
- Black & coloured felt tip pens.
- Photocopies of simple Islamic geometric patterns.
- Scissors, glue.
For the optional carpet for inside the mosque:
- A3 Sugar paper cut into equal strips-can be several different colours.
- Paint, (I would recommend turquoise, orange, emerald green, gold, white, cobalt blue)
- Handwriting pen for finer details e.g. decorating the prayer mat, writing calligraphic decoration.
- Some coloured paper scraps for chn to cut into squares for a mosaic/tile pattern.
In groups children will first decide on a group design for their mosque, this may involve making a final sketch that incorporates several ideas from people on the table.
They will then begin to work as a group to make their mosque, following the design they’ve decided on. This will require them to work as a team and delegate tasks to particular people in the group.
These jobs need to be done in each group: papie mache the dome over the upturned cling filmed, cereal bowl; construct the minaret; make the building of the mosque; design the stain glass windows; make a grand door; weave the prayer mat out of the sugar paper strips; make bands/strips of paper decorations that can be stuck onto the outside of the mosque (if in their design).
After each part of the mosque is made, children will need to discuss when to decorate the part they’ve made, before or after assemblage. They will need to decorate, paint the mosque and this will need to be planned for either lesson 2 or lesson 3. The domes will take a day or two to dry so this may mean some children assisting with other tasks while this happens.
NB if you are using balloons to create the dome shape then you don’t need to cover the whole balloon, but you do need to cover enough of the round base to give you an open shaped dome. If using a bowl you can place cling film on the bowl first and then over lay the glue papie mache news paper strips, this will stop the papie mache dome sticking to the bowl.
NB It may be advisable for supervising adults to have a craft knife/scalpel available to help with cutting windows, doors Etc. (Obviously, keep it out of reach of the children.)
By the end of the sessions you should end up with one mosque per group of six children. This is a great opportunity for the children to exhibit the mosques and for you to photograph them and create a work sheet using the photographs so that they can label some of the parts of a mosque and you can assess how much they have learnt.
Information About Mosques: A mosque is a building used to bring muslims together to surrender to God by the act of prayer and group worship.
Decorated or undecorated? The first mosques were very undecorated buildings, the reason for this was based on the belief that if people got distracted with decorations ,they might forget the true purpose of the building. There was also a risk of showing off wealth, which would disturb cohesion with non muslim communities. Decoration was also not encouraged in order to avoid an obvious disparity between the rich people funding the decoration and the poor people unable to do so. Islamic beliefs encourage humility in power and modesty in wealth.
Over hundreds of years the mosque became a far more decorated building, culminating in the Ottoman times. Often an Ottoman Sultan (king) would commission the building of an elaborate mosque to show his wealth, power and to be remembered by. There was also a bit of competition between the Muslims and the Christians who competed with each other to build the best religious building. During early Ottoman times many Byzantine (Christian) artisans were commissioned to work on mosques and many churches, in conquered lands, were also turned into mosques.
Small mosques are often built upon the graves of saints and some believe that the goodness of the saint will make the mosque a blessed/special place. Here’s one in Konya, Turkey. The most famous is the mosque built around the tomb of the Prophet Muhammed himself.
- Dome – points to the heavens, is supported by octagonal shape before the cube shaped building beneath it. Often filled with mesmerizing patterns to remind the viewer of the endless cosmos and God’s infinity.
- Minaret-tall thin tower like part from which the muezzin chants his call to prayer,
- Muezzin-specially trained person who performs the call to prayer. Hear an Egyptian Athan. (Each country has a different style of singing the Athan.)
- Adhan- (pronounced athan) the call to prayer.
- Mihrab-niche in which the Imam leads the prayers in front of the congregation,
- Imam- similar to a priest.
- Minbar-stairs from which the Imam delivers his sermons, he never stands at the top because it is symbolically reserved for the prophet Muhammad,
- Qiblah-the direction that worshipers face when praying, it faces Mecca.
- Ablution- the ritual washing worshippers do before prayer. (Traditionally the ablution ‘sink’ was octagonal, a reminder to Muslims of the allegory of the throne of God which will be carried by 8 angels on judgement day-reminding them that they are responsible for their own actions.)
- Prayer mat-has a special design to ensure all worshippers are stood next to each other in rows, this reminds them that all people are equal before God, (The prophet Muhammed describes this to be ‘like the teeth of a comb’.)
SYMBOLS AND MEANINGS
Islamic art can be viewed as simply a way of people expressing themselves non figuratively. However it can also be seen as a series of symbols that together point the viewer towards deeper spiritual meanings. Laleh Bakhtiar (Sufi 1976) and Keith Critchlow (Islamic Patterns 1976) write about some of these deeper meanings.
Symbolic significance of some colours in Islamic art:
Gold/yellow has a sense of Divine enlightenment, most holy, Divine royalty
White represents purity, goodness, potential, not of this world-away from materiality.(During burial the body is wrapped in a white shroud).
Blue is a reminder of life, water is the life giving and sustaining element on earth. Heaven is also said to be full of beautiful, fresh flowing streams and rivers. God’s limitless ability to sustain.
Green is a reminder of the lush gardens of paradise, God’s limitless generosity and to give life. Saint’s tombs are often covered in green silk, and the Prophet Muhammad often wore a green robe. Also linked with Al Khidr or the green knight, an illusive saint who appears to people and give them guidance.
Symbolic significance of numbers in Isamic art:
One signifies the one Creator, the Absolute in his Absoluteness. God. Allah. The dot or the centre of the circle, the origin. All creation resides in One God. This is multiplicity within unity.
Three signifies the first potential for creation, the triangle. It can also represent human consciousness.
Four represents earth, stability, the square, four elements-earth water fire air, hot cold wet and dry, matter.
Five and ten as a star points to the enlightened soul, to the Prophet Muhammed. Five can also be a symbol for the five daily prayers, five pillars, the golden proportion, growth.
Six consists of two groups of three and so recalls the meanings of three, hexagon is a symbol of heaven.
Seven links to the seven days of the week. Connected to 28 and the phases of the moon.
Eight connects to the throne of God being carried by seven angels, connects to the qualities of four.
Twelve connects to three, four and six and their related properties. The signs of the Zodiac.
Twenty eight points to the phases of the moon. Links to the crescent moon, a symbol used to represent muslims.
As you look at the geometry you can begin to glean a little of the hidden meaning behind the beautiful patterns and colours.
If you find this lesson idea useful and use it in your class, please take some photographs and send them to me so that I can post them up on here. Your kids will love to know that their art work is on the internet!!
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
This is a lesson I took with 60 Yr 5 children (two classes), we were studying pattern and symbols. They had already used patterns to create a Space illustration, illustrated traditional tale book cover, and had visited a woodland to photograph and study patterns in nature. This final lesson was based on the patterns and symbols of traditional tribal art and body art.
WHAT WE DID FIRST
We looked at several different cultures that use patterns on the body including some of these: Aboriginal Body Art, African Tribal Art, (Here’s an interesting link-read it first before showing anything to children), African Tribal Scarification, Moroccan Henna-’lucky eye‘, Moroccan Henna symbols and their meanings.
We discussed the reasons why certain tribes around the world use body art, including at initiation ceremonies, to identify tribal members, to communicate an idea or belief e.g. in certain gods, ready for marriage, becoming a mother etc. People also use it to communicate with the spirit world, at certain ceremonies, for war ceremonies, protection from evil spirits, good luck, family tradition.
I told the children that we would be using Arab (Moroccan) henna patterns to inspire us and that we would make our own ‘Hamsa’ or Hand of Fatima. We explored what the hand of Fatima means and also looked at the ‘lucky eye’ that is very popular in many mediterranean countries.
Hamse, Khamse, Hand of Fatima & ‘Evil eye’
For those unsure, the Hamsa has significance for Muslims and Jews. Some believe that it will protect them from evil, especially those evils that others might feel towards us like jealousy, envy and hate. Others (the more religious) believe that it is a beautiful symbol reminding them of the purity and goodness of Fatima (the Profit Mohammed’s daughter), but these people do not believe that it will protect them, as only God has the power to provide protection.
Often the Hamsa and the ‘evil eye’ or lucky eye are put together to add double protection against evil spirits, as well as jealous or envious persons.
WHAT YOU NEED
2 Hamsa templates.
I drew the Hamsa template (this is quite easy if you fold a piece of paper in half and draw half of the Hamsa along the fold, then cut it out-still doubled over so that when you open it out you will have a full Hamsa shape. Now all you need to do is draw the sections for the fingers, and palm with a ruler.) Photocopy this for each child, they will need two Hamsa hands each. Here’s an example of an already decorated Hamsa.
3 thicknesses of black pen (eg Berol fine handwriting pen, broad Berol pen, thin and thick felt tip).
Limited colour palette of thin and thick felt tips if anyone wants to use colour.
Photocopies of some relevant patterns, symbols and meanings for each table to use as reference material.
Inspiring images on Interactive White board.
Pritt stick/glue stick and scissors.
1 tube of Henna paste per table
I set children off using the different sized pens to explore and adapt the patterns onto their own two Hamsa hand templates. They could use the patterns as inspiration as well as bringing in their own ideas and bringing in previously explored patterns and symbols.
While they were doing this one or two people on each table had a go at as much or as little henna on their own hands as they wished. Some girls were from cultures that practice the art of henna and offered to paint it onto their friend’s hands. Other children wrote their initials on their hand or copied the ideas they were doing on their Hamsa drawing.
Here are some more images of their work in progress.
THE FINAL STEP
The final step is to cut out the two Hamsa hands and glue them around the edges of the palms.
Punch a hole at the base of the longest middle finger.
Stuff some screwed up pieces of scrap paper in between the two partly glued hands to fatten them out.
Then glue them both shut-trapping the screwed up bits of scrap paper inside them-make sure the two hole punched holes are aligned.
String some thread/string through the holes and tie in a knot so that you can hang the Hamsa up.
Here are some images of the final pieces.
I hope this lesson is helpful to anyone planning an Islamic, RE, Eid lesson. If you do use this idea then please email me photos of your classes work and hands, so that I can add it onto this blog post.