Lesson Plan: Islamic Stained Glass Windows – artful artsy amy
artful artsy amy

Lesson Plan: Islamic Stained Glass Windows

EDIT 02/10/18:  The original online application I recommended to design a mandala is no longer available for free. I found an excellent free substitute called “Mandala Maker Online.” In some ways, I like it better. It’s simple. The default colors are black and white (easier for printing). Students can choose how many sections for their mandala, the line weight (I encourage 8-12 pt for easy visibility), and there are multiple ways to edit. To save, students can either click “Save” (it will default save to the “downloads” or “Google drive” depending on student device), or they can right-click and save the image to the file of their choice. To easily print, I recommend inserting the finished and saved mandala into a Word, Publisher, or Google Doc to ensure compatibility with the 8.5 x 11 inch dimensions. Enjoy!!  http://mandalamaker.online/ 

Remember clear transparency film we used on old overhead projectors? Send out an email to your colleagues and say that you need a few sheets. I’ve done this at my past three schools and have received dozens of boxes of the stuff in return! Us teachers, we are such hoarders! While no one knew what to do with the outdated material, they were loath to throw it away. . .

And, I’ve been finding incredible uses for the stuff!
My current favorite is this project (inspired by some visiting pre-service Art teachers) about Islamic Art and Architecture.

Here’s how the kids and I threw this party down.
*1. (Day One)
We studied the art and architecture of Islam using this PowerPoint I made. The presentation asks students to compare and contrast with other varieties of architecture and to hypothesize the reasons for geometric design and usage of stained glass. We focused on the Nasir Al-Mulk Mosque (sometimes called the Pink Mosque) in Shiraz, Iran as it is noted for ah-mazing stained glass.
*2. (Day One)
Together, we drew a geometric design inspired by the Islamic ideal that geometric designs emphasize the infinite power of Allah (“God” in Arabic is “Allah). through the intricacy of design and usage of circles and squares.  Muslims use complex geometry in religious art over depictions of humans because they are not supposed to use graven images in art. The more complex a design, the more it represents the infinite power of Allah. We used compasses and protractors to measure out our angles and circles. We did this together because it is pretty tough. . .But, I felt –and do feel- that it is important for them to understand the math behind this art.
*3 (Day Two)
We went to the computer lab. We discussed divine geometry and I showed them this awesome, online, free application that helps you draw complex geometric shapes based on divine geometry (http://app.geokone.net/) . Students “played” and then printed their designs.
*4 (Day Three)
We used transparency film, tape, and colored sharpies to trace and color our design. Pro tip: use colored sharpies first AND then use black sharpies to avoid “yucking-out” your light-colored markers!
*5 (Day Four)
We continued coloring on our transparency film. I introduced the final step, which was to create a frame for your glass. I modeled this, provided students with a Islamic-design-sheet for inspiration, and gave them white prismacolor colored pencils to create their designs.
*6 (Day Five)
We continued on our films and frames. Students hot-glued their film to their frames (use low temp glue guns or else your plastic will melt; you could use regular glue but I wanted to finish on the 5th day). Originally, I was going to give the students foam tape to build and allow them to build up space between a white sheet of paper and their frame in order to create shadows. . .But, we tried it and it looked lame.  Instead, the kids asked if they could hang them in the window, “like they did at that Pink Mosque!” We did and it was about 100x’s more awesome than my idea. Kids are amaze-balls like that! 

Here is some unexpected awesomeness from this project
-OMG kids love colored sharpies. They were SO respectful with them, and were SO eager to create using them. I love sharpies too!
-Hanging the work in the window created an instant-critique experience for the students. The early finishers sat and talked about their artwork for over ten minutes (!). I know! I timed them!!
-The artwork is really an experience. The other students LOVE it too. And, it is exciting to look at it.
Enjoy! And, if you teach this lesson . . . Share your pics with me!!