I spent the summer of 2009 volunteering in an orphanage in Tamil Nadu, India. The experience is one I will always hold dear to my heart. The experiences I gain through travels like these add a richness to my teaching that no professional development can.
Creating Indian Kolam is a fun activity I share with students while introducing geometry. It is a great way to merge art, culture and math and the product is beautiful.
The complete lesson can be downloaded here.
To start, I briefly discuss symmetry. After reviewing simple examples of symmetry (in circles, squares, alphabet letters) I introduce kolam. We look at several pictures and discuss kolam's orgin.
Using graph paper, I model how to start a simple kolam explaining how to use the graph paper to guide my drawing. Find a center point to begin, all loops and lines must mirror each other starting from the origin. This works best with 1-inch grid paper but anything will work.
Check out student samples here!
Below you will find the story of kolam, complete with pictures from my stay in India!
The Story Behind Kolam
Early every morning, before dawn, the woman of Tamil Nadu draw kolams on the ground using rice or chalk powder. Throughout the day, the drawings get walked on, smeared, or blown away by wind. Every morning, before a new one is drawn, the floor outside of the home is carefully swept and wet with water, creating an even and slightly muddy surface.
"The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don't tell you what to see." - Alexandra K. Trenfor