CANADA TO ME – Shape, Pattern, Balance

Students reflect on what Canada means to them, and use Model Magic to create a mobile that communicates their ideas.

Required Time

80 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 1 to Grade 3


Language Arts
Social Studies
Visual Arts


balance mobile pattern primary colours shape


Model Magic Paint Brushes Tempera Paint String Branches or Dowels Scissors Paper Towels Rolling Pin Water Containers Glitter Glue Bamboo Skewers

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CANADA TO ME – Shape, Pattern, Balance - Step One

Step One

  1. Brainstorm a web of things that make you think of Canada. 
CANADA TO ME – Shape, Pattern, Balance - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Roll out the Model Magic to a thickness of about .75 cm.
  2. Cut out 3 maple leaf shapes.
  3. Use a bamboo skewer to poke a small hole at the top of each maple leaf.
CANADA TO ME – Shape, Pattern, Balance - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Create new colours of Model Magic by mixing primary colours together. 
  2. If you are using white Model Magic, you can colour it by poking a small piece of it with Crayola Original markers and gently kneading the colour into it. 
  3. Create Model Magic symbols to represent what Canada means to you.
  4. Stick a different symbol on each maple leaf.  
  5. You may want to add glitter glue to the finished design. 
  6. Set the finished shapes aside to dry for 2 days.
CANADA TO ME – Shape, Pattern, Balance - Step Four

Step Four

  1. Use tempera paint to decorate your stick with different colours and patterns.
CANADA TO ME – Shape, Pattern, Balance - Step Five

Step Five

  1. Once the Model Magic is dry tie the shapes to the stick.
CANADA TO ME – Shape, Pattern, Balance - Step Six

Step Six

  1. Hold the mobile in the air to see if it is balanced. 
  2. Adjust the placement of the shapes if you need to balance the mobile.

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  1. Use Model Magic to create a mobile that communicates their ideas about Canada;
  2. Use placement of objects to create balance;
  3. Demonstrate their understanding of cultural symbolism;
  4. Demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity; and
  5. Support their ideas with evidence found in the works. 


  1. Have students research the variety of maple trees found in Canada and make a picture that connects Canada, maple trees and something that interests them.


  1. Download images of Canadian symbols from the Internet, for example,
    Maple Leaf
    Leaf Symbol
    Inuksuk Symbol
    Beaver Symbol
    Moose Symbol
    Hockey Symbol
  2. Gather and make available books about Canada and Canadian symbols, for example, A Northern Alphabet, by Ted Harrison The Inuksuk Book, by Mary Wallace; An Inuksuk Means Welcome, by Mary Wallace; Z Is For Zamboni: A Hockey Alphabet, by Matt Napier; ABC of Canada, by Kim Bellefontaine; Oh Canada!, by Per-Henrik Gürth; M Is For Moose: A Charles Pachter Alphabet, by Charles Pachter; Canada Counts: A Charles Pachter Counting Book, by Charles Pachter.
  3. Download the Shape and Balance posters available on this website.
  4. Gather all the materials required for this lesson. If possible, take students outside to find their own stick for the mobile.


  1. Read one of the picture books about Canada and discuss how the illustrator chose images to represent ideas and how they represent Canada.  
  2. Explain that these are cultural symbols. Cultural symbols are found in countries all around the world. They represent something that people in that country feel is important about the country, or part of the country.
  3. Brainstorm as a class, symbols that people in Canada find meaningful, for example,
    - Inuksuk
    - Beaver
    - Maple Leaf
    - Moose
    - Hockey
    - Polar Bear
    - Canadian Flag
  4. Discuss why these symbols are used to represent Canada and what they mean.
  5. Show students some images comparing actual objects with the way artists have changed them into symbols, for example, the maple leaf. Discuss how they are different and how they are the same, for example,
    - images of symbols are often flat, simple shapes
    - images of symbols are easy to recognize
    - images of symbols often use symmetry in the design
  6. Introduce the challenge.


The Challenge

  1. Use Model Magic to create a mobile that communicates your ideas about Canada.
  2. Use placement of objects to create balance.
  3. Demonstrate your understanding of cultural symbolism.
  4. Demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity.
  5. Support your ideas with evidence found in the works. 

The Process

  1. Ensure that everyone understands the challenge.
  2. Establish success criteria with your students, for example,
    - several different patterns are used on the stick
    - cultural symbols are easy to recognize
    - placement of objects is balanced
    - careful application of Model Magic
    - accurately explains why designs are cultural symbols
  3. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  4. Observe students as they work.
  5. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.


  1. Once all the mobiles are complete ask students to share them in partners or small groups. 
    Ask them to:
    Look closely at the mobiles and how they are made.
    - Share thoughts about the work.
    - Talk about how simple shapes and contrasting colours contribute to the effectiveness of the designs.

    - Explain why the symbols they chose can be called cultural symbols, and why they chose them.
    - Tell what was satisfying about making the mobile and explain why.
  2. Ask some students to share their ideas with the whole class.


  1. Observe students as they work – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting
  2. Observe students as they discuss the art works – active listening, insightful contributions, supporting ideas with evidence found in the artwork and from personal experience.
  3. Use a checklist to track progress. (Downloads - Mobile_tracking.pdf)
  4. Have students use the self-assessment form to reflect on their work. (Downloads - Mobile_self-assessment.pdf, PotPrimary.pdf)