Before winter break, my students started studying Islamic art. I love teaching this unit for several reasons, not the least of which is how it challenges students’ perceptions of a culture that is often in the news and still usually completely misunderstood. Another plus is the cross-curricular connection to math. Statistically, my students’ weakest FCAT skill is geometry and measurement. Studying and reproducing the intricate patterns like those decorating mosques across the world gives them a visual, tactile, real-world experience to complement the often abstract, gray realm of mathematics.
We did tughra-inspired monograms and cut-snowflake-style star ornaments, read about calligraphy and practiced writing phrases in Arabic. But the project that yielded the coolest results and definitely packed the most “wow” factor was simply drawing circles. A lot of them. The result was this mandala-style rosette design. Since mandalas and geometric imagery is gaining a lot of popularity in contemporary design, especially the tattoo world, I think it’s worth teaching and sharing. Hence, my first video tutorial! Quick and Dirty because when you’re working with 40 kids a period and enough space and supplies for half that, you gotta keep it simple. You can find out more about geometry in Islamic design from this excellent lesson plan from the Metropolitan Museum.