Tuesday, November 5, 2013

mudcloths... without the mud.

The 3rd graders are focusing on shape during this 2 week rotation. This lesson zooms in on the use of geometric shapes to create an abstract design that is filled with patterns and is an example of symmetry.

The lesson starts with a quick intro/review of flat geometric shapes. I then share the work of Nakunte Diarra. She is an artist in Mali who has created mudcloths for many years. We look at her use of shape and pattern in these designs.

 We pause on this one to discuss symmetry and parts within the whole.

We notice that if this design is folded in half from left to right, the sides match. I then draw a rectangle with a line down the middle to show the line of symmetry. I ask students to tell me, if these parts are equal (same area and perimeter), then how would I express the one side as a fraction? If that is 1/2, what would the right side be? 2/2. (Math 3G2)

I then point out that this design has symmetry from top to bottom as well. So, now are design may be divided into 4 equal parts and I ask the students to identify them as fractions.

We then move onto how these mudcloths are made with the help of the Smithsonian and it's interactive site, Discovering Mudcloth. Students see a bit of the process, see that the artists use all natural materials, and they learn how many of the patterns used stand for, or symbolize something else.

Then it's time for them to try it out for themselves. Each students gets a large square and 3 smaller rectangles of earth tones. I model working out a shape design that shows symmetry. I emphasize that they should not glue stuff down until they have a plan. Once things are glued, they may add colorstick line and shape patterns to the design, again, keeping their symmetry intact.

Students fold their paper into 1/4s and label correctly.

When the projects are finished, students complete an exit slip compare & contrast slip. They need to identify how their design is similar to Nakunte's and how theirs is different from hers. (ELA 3W1, 3W10) Throughout the lesson I encourage students to think about these points, so that by the time they have to reflect, many of them have a good idea about how theirs does compare and contrast with Nakunte's. I remind them that useful vocabulary is posted on the board and elsewhere in the room. 

 minecraft is everywhere:)


  1. Bravo Don! The project is visually interesting and you taught your students a lot of concepts. I can't believe you are doing not one but TWO exit slips.

  2. What a fantastic lesson. I have pinned it to try it too. Thanks for the detailed steps also.