Welcome to Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten! My class blog is the place I share information about some of the fun learning activities we are doing at school. I hope to provide parents with insight into what we are doing, and why, and to share ideas with other early childhood educators. Please don't use the photos or text of this blog without permission, but please do use any ideas you find useful. Thank you for stopping by!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Kente Colors, art and math learning


See how I teach complex patterns with the beautiful book, Kente Colors
Have you met the beautiful book, Kente Colors, by Debbi Chocolate?

See how I teach complex patterns with the beautiful book, Kente Colors

 The illustrations by John Ward are a gorgeous accompaniment to the rhyming text about the meaning of different colors in the West African cloth.  There is even an author's note explaining a little bit of the history of Kente, which is just right for young listeners.

Years ago, when I taught first grade, I used this book as the starting point for a combined math and art lesson - which I thought I'd share with you today.

We started by reading the book and the author's note, and it is also very easy now to use YouTube.com to show students video of traditional Ghanian artists creating kente.  I like this link and this link.  We also reread the book, noticing the designs in the kente, which are inorganic, geometric shapes, in complex patterns.  Do you see the math lesson hidden in this gem?

See how I teach complex patterns with the beautiful book, Kente Colors

Next the children chose paper in several colors, each of which has a special meaning.  I found a table showing the meaning of each color here.  I cut my paper into 4" wide strips - because traditional kente is woven in long strips 4 inches wide, then sewn together into pieces of cloth.  Making narrow strips also makes it easier for students to repeat the patterns, it seems to be a more manageable size.  You can see on the photo above that I've drawn a zigzag line on one of the strips, and have several colors that I'll cut all at once.  I also made 4 or 6 of each element, so I could create a repeating pattern on two strips of paper.
See how I teach complex patterns with the beautiful book, Kente Colors
It can be difficult for young kiddos to make multiple pieces the same - so here's my trick.  I have the students fold the paper, and I staple the end together, as you can see above.  They can then draw one shape on the piece of paper, cut through all the layers without the papers slipping around, and end up with 4 copies of their shape.  If you need a little more detail, I wrote a blog post explaining this step by step.

See how I teach complex patterns with the beautiful book, Kente Colors
Here I've cut out multiple pieces so I can layer them for my pattern.

See how I teach complex patterns with the beautiful book, Kente Colors
Have your students lay the pieces out on their strips of background paper - they can move them around until they are happy with the design, and then glue them down.  (You might want to keep the glue back until students show you that they've created a repeating pattern, so they don't glue down something that isn't a pattern.)

See how I teach complex patterns with the beautiful book, Kente Colors
If  you like, you can have students make another set of kente inspired pattern strips, and then alternate them with the first pattern - creating an even more complex pattern of patterns!

See how I teach complex patterns with the beautiful book, Kente Colors

This artwork makes a fantastic display, and an excellent opportunity to discuss shapes and patterns, with an art history lesson too.  My students enjoyed this project - I hope yours do too!





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