Mandalas are circular art forms that use symmetry and shapes to create pleasing, harmonious patterns. Creating mandalas with a compass is a fun way for kids to explore how math and art intersect.
True, kid-made compass mandalas may not have the same precision as those created with the help of a computer or an experienced grown-up, but that shouldn't stop anyone from exploring the beauty of this compass geometry art project!
As you shall see, our compass art mandala activity was designed as a process art project. In other words, we were more interested in the exploratory process than the end result. That means this mandala project the way we did it is better for preschool and younger elementary kids than older kids exploring precise mathematical concepts. However, the video at the end of the post is an excellent resource should that be your goal!
Compass Art Mandala Instructions
- Art supplies like markers, crayons, colored pencils, etc.
- Paper. We upcycled some cardboard.
Place the compass point in the middle of the cardboard.
The reason we used cardboard rather than construction paper was because its depth held the compass point steady, helping little hands make a complete and perfect circle.
Draw as large a circle as the compass will allow.
Once the initial circle has been made, without adjusting the compass, place the compass tip at a point on the circumference and draw an arc from once side to the other. Repeat as many times as you want
Since this is a compass art project for kids, precision was not the goal. Exploration was the goal and instead of perfect arcs, my son just wanted to make more circles, intersecting them however he wished.
That was A-OK by me.
After drawing with the compass, the final step is making your mandala, or "psuedo-mandala," as the case may be, colorful.
Use your art supplies and fill in the arcs, swishes, quadrants, semi-circles, whatever geometric shapes appear! Use whatever colors you wish. This is a process art project!