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Art Project for Kids: How to Create a Meditation Mat
How to Make a Meditation Mat
This art project for kids was designed as a part of a larger cultural arts day for a local school. The project is for children ages 5 to 8 years old, and was planned to be completed in groups of children about 25 to 30 children at a time in about 1 hours time. Therefore, the art project for these kids had to be simple, and finished quickly.
If you have a longer period of time to complete a similar project, then I will offer variables of how you can enhance the meditation mats. To complete the project as designed, here are the supplies that you will need:
- 1 piece of black 11 x 14 construction paper for each child
- 2 pieces of 8 x 11 colored construction paper for each child (varied colors)
- crayons or markers
- a list of 10 animals--(The animals I picked were Wolf, Deer, Bear, Rabbit, Eagle, Horse, Butterfly,Mouse, Black Panther, Owl)
- clear packaging tape or contact paper
The Concept Behind the Meditation Mat
Children need some quiet time, just like adults do to settle down, assess their day, and think. The meditation mat is a place where the child can sit down and just have some quiet time to themselves or quiet down if they are getting too wound up. This meditation mat is their own special spot that only they can use unless they want to share it with a friend.
The idea is that the animals or symbols that they put on the mat guide them into their quiet thinking or meditation. This project will go smoother if you have time to explain the animal totems to them at least as symbols of different ideals before you make the mats.
The pictures to the right are from an elementary school where I did this project in 40 minute sessions. The children are grades K-3 and really did well, but the project would work better if they had been able to spend more time.
Native American Animal Totems
The animals I chose for this project were inspired by the Native American animal totems. Each animal represented a certain theme, and they were to help the children feel good about themselves when they used the meditation mat for their quiet time. The animals' symbolism was provided to me by BevsPaper, who is much more knowledgeable than myself on animal totems.
Here is the symbolism for each animal (scaled down to a 5 to 8 year old's understanding):
Wolf: The greatest teacher and pathfinder. Wolf finds new ideas and shares with the group. Strong sense of family. Very loyal. By watching wolf hunt the Natives learned to survive.
Deer: Gentleness is the gift of deer. Loving and kind will heal the most wounded heart with compassion. Unselfish, deer gave his body for food and his coat for clothing and warmth to the Natives.
Bear: Introspection. Bear seeks the sweetness of truth and will hibernate to digest the year’s experience. Being able to look at ourselves and the goals and dreams we have is important to be able to attain them. Bear also is a generous creature. He gave his meat for food and his fur for warmth to the People.
Rabbit: Fear. Rabbit reminds us that we should not be afraid all of the time. Nothing gets done if we worry too much and run away. Rabbit gave it’s meat to the People and his fur for clothing. Many Natives used rabbit fur for a sort of diaper for the babies.
Eagle: The most sacred bird. Eagle can fly so high that it can almost reach the heavens. Teaches us to soar with freedom to find real joy in our hearts. Gives us courage to fight off obstacles in our path.
Horse: The message from horse is power. True power is wisdom and comes from caring, loving, sharing and teaching those around you. Horse was an important gift to the People. Horse allowed them to be able to travel farther and faster.
Butterfly: Transformation. Butterfly reminds us of the cycles of life and how we transform from beginning, middle, and end of ideas, projects, and relationships. We learn to be OK with the egg cycle knowing that at the end it will be a thing of beauty like the Butterfly.
Mouse: Scrutiny. Little mouse knows how to look at everything and know where it goes. Organized, mouse stores things in their spot to come back and explore later. Look at everything carefully.
Black Panther: Embraces the unknown with courage and grace. Not afraid to let the future happen. Teaches us to face our fears.
Owl: Deception. Sacred Bird will see the truth when others can not. Wisdom from being able to see everything clearly. Owl can not be deceived from it’s keen eyesight and extraordinary hearing.
Thank you, Bev for providing me with this information.
Preparation Before the Project
To make this project quicker and easier for me, the teacher, I had some of the items prepared in advance. If you have more time, you can have the children do this part too.
The black construction paper has to be cut into one inch strips leaving one inch at the end of the black paper where they are attached. Cut the paper lengthwise so that each strip is one inch wide and about 13 inches long because the last inch is uncut, still attached together.
The colored construction paper is pre-cut also into separate strips, 1 " x 11", in other words, cut the 8 x 11 paper into one inch strips the long way. These are completely cut through into separate strips.
Alternatives: To make this project more interesting and longer lasting, you can have the children make watercolor pictures or complete drawings on the 8 x 11 paper before it is cut into strips. Another option is to use felt instead of paper for the mat.
Working with the Children on the Project
Step 1: The first part of the project is to ask the children to choose one animal from your list, and imagine themselves as this animal. Or ask them to choose their favorite animal. This animal will be their totem or the animal that guides them on their meditation mat.
If you have more time, you can teach a lesson about animals and their habits to help the children choose an animal for their project.
Step 2: Pass out the varied colored strips for the children to use or allow them to pick out the colored strips themselves. Once these strips are chosen, they should decorate them with pictures of their chosen animal with crayons or markers.
If you use felt instead of paper, you can sew, glue, or use fabric paint to add pictures to the fabric.
Step 3: Distribute the pre-cut black paper, one per child. Teach the children how to weave the loose strips into the black paper base. The kids should weave the colored strips into the black with the pictures of their animal face up.
Step 4: Once the weavings are complete, use the clear packing tape on each side of the mat to seal the weaving in place or use the contact paper to cover the entire mat to keep the design in place. Contact paper will make the mediation mat more durable.
If you use fabric to make the mat, you will have to sew the ends in place. Tape will not stick to fabric well.