Ten Tips for teaching Art to your child-for the non-artist parent

If you are a parent who sees artistic potential in your child or children but are at a loss as to how to help them develop their artistic skills further, then this is the article for you.

Tip 1:Believe that it is a basic part of human nature to be creative and that you and your children have every right to be creative because Art is not exclusive. (If you do not believe this yet, then pretend to for your children’s sake!)

IMG_1602

Tip 2:If you have very little formal artistic skills yourself, it’s not a problem. Find one of many great online tutorials that can teach you and your children how to draw. Here are just a few: How to draw a nose, How to draw a Spinosaurus, How to draw a butterfly, How to draw a dragon’s eye

Tip 3: When your child does a piece of art work train yourself not to automatically say ‘Wow, that’s so amazing darling’. Take a look at this fantastic clip called Austin’s butterfly and try giving feedback that actually means something and shows you’ve taken the time to really look at their art.

Tip 4: Keep sketchbooks and date work. There’s nothing quite so satisfying as looking back over art work and seeing how much you’ve improved since the first drawing.

Tip 5: Let children follow their own inspiration! If Jonny loves snakes and you have a snake phobia, you’ll still have to support Jonny when he draws snakes because you don’t want to pass on your fear of snakes. Remember, it’s passion that gets artists through difficult times.

Muhyi snake

Tip 6: Encourage your children to embrace mistakes. So frustrating when they know what they want a drawing to look like and their hands just won’t do it! Learn about Carol Dweck’s Growth Mindset and the power of using the word ‘yet’. Mistakes are not a catastrophe, they are part of an essential process towards a goal. Your brain develops most when you make a mistake and learn from it, so teach your child to be pleased when they make a marvellous mistake and explain that they are just not quite there yet.

Tip 7: For ways to create fun opportunities for Art linked to story books read this article.

Tip 8: Let your children take photos. Imagine you go to the zoo on a family trip but they’re just too excited to sit and draw any of the animals there. Well that’s where many artists would take several photographs of their favourite animal for later use. On a rainy day you can get the photos up on a computer or ipad and draw from them. Here are some photos my son took when we went to Crocodile world.

 

Tip 9: If you have an ipad or tablet then download Photoeditor. Let your children experiment with editing a photo they took. Art can be digital as well as drawn with pencil and paper. Here are some digitally edited photos done by 7 year olds I’ve worked with.

Tip 10: Get children out and about and do some Art outdoorsLand Art or at a museum.

Here are some pics of Land Art I’ve done with my children.

I hope this gives you some helpful advice to get started and perhaps once you get going you’ll have some inspiring ideas yourself that you’d like me to put up on this post for others to see.

If you have photos you’d like me to share then please send them to a.henckel@hotmail.com and add any short notes or tips you’d like me to add alongside them.

Advertisements

A didgeridoo just for you!

As first time revellers at the Wilderness Festival, my husband and I quickly realised that having brought our children along, we would probably be spending rather more time in the family section than we’d bargained for.

Whether it was the exotically feathered & sequinned ‘happy’ drifters, the masquerading

Skinny dippers at the Wilderness Festival

lines of males in leotards and leggings or the nudist couple casually wandering in their birthday suit that made our children a little shy, we weren’t sure. But what ever the reason, they spent much of their time attached to us by arm, hand or leg; leaving us parents precious little time to enjoy the luxuries, novelties and musical delights filling the  Wilderness air

http://www.wildernessfestival.com/gallery

Nevertheless, all was not lost. Our eldest son found his calling which came in a strange guise…

As we wondered around the family tents which included many eco & bush-craft workshops such as braiding rope from stinging nettles, bow drill fire making, copper pendent metal working,  wooden spoon carving, chalk carving and so forth; we came upon a small gathering of attentive children in a colourful cloth clad hut making unspeakable noises on bamboo didgeridoos .

Both boys quickly joined in, sitting at the feet of Ganesh. Much to his glee, Adam discovered that he could make a rather more pleasing sound which caught the attention of the teacher Mark.

IMG_0038

Mark then invited Adam to make his own instrument and with much excitement he set to work on the task.

Step 1 was choosing the right bamboo pole for his instrument.

Step 2. Checking for any cracks and faults and sawing it off to the correct length.

Step 3. Scraping out the inner segments of the bamboo cane which took a whileIMG_1860 IMG_1861Step 4. Sanding either end of the bamboo cane.

IMG_1863 IMG_1864

Step 5. Moulding the bees wax mouth piece (a natural antiseptic).

IMG_1862

Step 6. Rubbing the outer length of the instrument and just inside the bottom end with linseed oil.

IMG_1866

And lastly, here is an exhausted Adam having a lie down while still playing his new, hand made instrument.

IMG_1867

What was so brilliant was that throughout the festival Adam was able to return to the didgeridoo classes to improve his playing and on the spur of the moment was even asked to perform with his teacher and a few other young players to a whole crowd of the youngest Wilderness revellers at the Flying Seagull Project theatre.

So thank you to Mark for starting one little boy on a new adventure!

Anubis weighs an evil heart

By the hand, the white shrouded figure is led up to the scales of Maat.  IMG_1674Jackal 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.

IMG_1674

 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. IMG_1673Below 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. IMG_1676

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.

See this story here.

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.

IMG_1672

IMG_1677

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.

IMG_1678-1

Further useful links for teachers and anyone else interested in ancient Egyptian Mythology
For Adults:

For Children:

When in Rome do as ‘ The Rotten Romans’

Roman mosaic border

IMG_1465

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.

Roman Mosaic Designs
I visited a Year Three class in Barton, Oxford and taught the children how to draw Roman style dolphins.
We looked at an image of Roman dolphins and I told a story about the handsome Neptune riding a sea chariot drawn by sea horses and winged cupid astride dolphins riding the frothy waves. Find a story to tell here.
Below is a drawing I did in chalks to show the children how to design a mosaic and to give them a visual idea of what I was asking them to create.
Roman mosaic design
The children began by hand drawing a border on their piece of black paper, I then showed them step-by-step, how to draw a Roman dolphin in white chalk.  I invited them to complete their design showing the idea of the tesserae by drawing little shapes for the background. They then embellished their border if they had time.
(Unfortunately the children were not able to finish their artwork with me due to time constraints and I do not have photos of their completed work.)
How to draw a Roman dolphin-step by step
Roman dolphinHere is a step by step version of what I took them through. Try it for yourself first. Children don’t need to know what part they are drawing. All they need to hear is your descriptions and copy you.
Describe the lines you draw like saying ‘now draw a gently curved line going up’ Etc.
 
RD2
RD3 RD4 RD5 RD6 RD7
 
 
TIP:
Make sounds with your voice as you draw, the children will copy you and this helps them ‘feel’ what they are doing. It works!!! If my pencil goes up, then my voice goes up too. Try it!
 
TIP: Use your voice to describe the movement. or say ’round’ in a curvy way.
 
 
RD8

RD9
RD10 RD11 RD12
.
 
 
 Remember, everyone’s will be unique and that is good!
IMG_1331
Roman Dolphin
The picture below was one I had on show for children to get ideas of Roman border designs, they also had access to reference books on Roman mosaics and images on the internet.Roman borders Storytelling
Every week, in two year three classes I spent half an hour storytelling Roman myths to the children. I was amazed at the way the stories really captured their imaginations and created many links and connections for them.
The myth of Pegasus’s birth is a fascinating one and involves the much loved yet feared character of Medusa (his mother).(Watch the story here-check before you show children)medusa mosaic design
The tale of poor Echo
The children’s response to the story of the unfortunate nymph Echo was amazing to see. Echo who was admired by Jupiter (king of the gods), is cursed by his jealous wife Juno (queen of the Gods) to never speak again but merely echo the sounds she hears around her. Echo falls in love with Narcissus who shuns her advances and chooses to wither away his life uselessly in love with his own reflection. Poor Echo then spurns the advances of amorous Pan the half goat half man (god of shepherding & music) and is shattered into a thousand pieces across the world where she remains to this day.
A well-chosen story
Children often came to me saying that they heard Echo under a bridge on the way home, or that they heard her in their hall at home. One child even asked how come Echo was in the school toilets. The right story can get children thinking and learning beyond the classroom and this is the most exciting kind of learning.

Class Assembly on the ‘Rotten Romans’
You may be wondering what on earth this clever recycled camera has to do with the Romans. Well, the Yr Three class I was with in Littlemore decided to do their own news round assembly of the facts they learnt about the Romans and it all began with one of the children shouting ‘Action’ and pretending to film it using this camera. IMG_1447 IMG_1446
Rat Sandwich anyone?
One of the children discovered during an internet research lession that Romans liked eating rat sandwiches. This was of great fascination to them and so we decided to make our own rat sandwich using painted sponges and pipe cleaners for the curly tails.
IMG_1444 IMG_1466Another 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.
IMG_1467Fearsome Fighters
We made Roman helmets, shields, swords out of cardboard boxes, paint, tissue paper and foil. We used these in our class assembly to act out a fight between a gladiator and a Roman soldier, our audience gave the thumbs down and the gladiator was slain at the Emperor’s bidding!
IMG_1454 Roman classroom display IMG_1448 IMG_1453 IMG_1443 Two wire hooks on the back of the shields for the handle.IMG_1442My favourite are the gladiator sandals!!!
Made from 100% cardboard and a few well placed staples.
IMG_1439 IMG_1440 IMG_1441 IMG_1465
All those props made a super cool display!
Along with our non chronological reports, Roman key words, facts that the children discovered and wrote, pictures and dates.
IMG_1468 IMG_1469 IMG_1464 Roman classroom display
The children ended their class assembly with the Boudica rap from Horrible Histories. We made Boudicca head bands and the three Boudiccas wore cloth capes. All in all both classes thoroughly enjoyed the Rotten Roman topic and the creative activities, storytelling and class assembly really brought the whole topic to life.

Christmas Peg Dolls

A quick post showing a few ideas for making peg dolls. IMG_1456

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.

IMG_1455

‘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.

IMG_1460

Shepherd

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.

IMG_1461 IMG_1462

Black History Month-kids jewellery Workshop

image-2

Paper plane pendent

I ran an afternoon of jewellery workshops in John Henry Newman School (Littlemore,
Oxford), and I promised the children that I would post photos of their fantastic work.

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.

image-6

I love the choice of words on this one. Full of humour!

image-7

Football Fan Here!!


image-5 image-3

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.

image-9

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.

image-4

Children made bracelets with their freedom beads & glass beads as presents for someone special.

image-8
PLANNING A CHILDREN’S JEWELLERY MAKING WORKSHOP?
PREPARATION
All these pieces of jewelery were made from recycled leaflets/magazines and the jewellery materials were from PJ beads.
  • 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.
MATERIALS
Beading table: glue, paper strips/leaflets, paint brushes for glue, toothpick/kebab stick for rolling bead, stringing cord, ball point/sharpie pens, clear nail varnish.
Airoplane table: scissors, scrap paper, necklace cord, nail varnish, circle punch.
Collage Medallion table: leaflets, scissors, glue, cardboard circle, necklace cord, gold/silver/black pens, circle hole punch.
You need: Two/three arty adults-ideally! Laminator and pouches, leaflets, bead stash, example beads, bracelets, paper plane and collage medallion to show children, spare cord, adult scissors, example of trade/slave beads if linking it to Black History.
PLANNING
  • 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.
How to roll a paper bead 
How to varnish a paper bead
If your bead is too wide to fit onto the toothpick, then hold it between your fingers and varnish it, then after it has dried you can varnish the inside of the hole.

Islamic Art Lesson – Ideas for School Children

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.

Build a mosque

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

  1. Interactive White Board images of famous mosques from all over the world (see below).
  2. Images of Islamic geometric patterns. Some photocopies for reference per table.
  3. Laptops for paired/individual research.
  4. Children’s sketch books/project book or A3 paper.
  5. Pencils, colouring pencils.
  6. Graph paper with different base patterns, squares, triangles, hexagons and octagons.

The lesson

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.

  1. Several domed shaped plastic bowls or blown up baloon.
  2. Newspapers.
  3. Wall paper paste for papie mache-made up into ‘gloop’, one per table.
  4. Cardboard boxes, one per table and wrapping paper and kitchen rolls, cereal boxes, larger piece of firm cardboard for mosque to stand on.
  5. Glue stick, glue gun-adult supervision required, scissors.

For the windows:

  1. Tracing paper or acetate.
  2. Black & coloured felt tip pens.
  3. Photocopies of simple Islamic geometric patterns.
  4. Scissors, glue.

For the optional carpet for inside the mosque:

  1. A3 Sugar paper cut into equal strips-can be several different colours.

For decoration:

  1. Paint, (I would recommend turquoise, orange, emerald green, gold, white, cobalt blue)
  2. Handwriting pen for finer details e.g. decorating the prayer mat, writing calligraphic decoration.
  3. Some coloured paper scraps for chn to cut into squares for a mosaic/tile pattern.

The lesson

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.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

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.

Hagia-Sophia, Byzantine church turned into a mosque. 1453-1931

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.

KEYWORDS

  • Mosque/Masjid
  • 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!!

 ,