CIRCLE PATTERNS – Mandalas, Repetition, Reflection

Children create modeling clay circle patterns in front of two mirrors as they learn about mandalas, reflection and angles.

Required Time

50 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 1 to Grade 3


Language Arts
Social Studies
Visual Arts


angle circle pattern reflection repetition shape


Crayola Modeling Clay - Variety of Colours Plastic Sheet Protectors - 21.6 cm x 27.9 cm (8.5" x 11") Small Mirrors - 30.5 cm x 30.5 cm (12" x 12") - 2 per student

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CIRCLE PATTERNS – Mandalas, Repetition, Reflection - Step One

Step One

  1. Work in front of the mirrors.
  2. Roll small balls of modeling clay.
  3. Flatten a ball onto one of the lines to make a circle.
  4. Press more balls onto the lines to make a pattern.
  5. Fill the lines with circles.
CIRCLE PATTERNS – Mandalas, Repetition, Reflection - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Add more colours and details to your circle patterns.
  2. Roll some thin snakes of modeling clay.
CIRCLE PATTERNS – Mandalas, Repetition, Reflection - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Add the snakes to your design.
  2. Add lots of details.
  3. Notice the reflections in the mirrors.
  4. How many circles can you see?
CIRCLE PATTERNS – Mandalas, Repetition, Reflection - Step Four

Step Four

  1. Look at your design from different angles.
    - Look down at it.
    - Look at it from the side.
    - What do you see in the mirrors?
    - What does it remind you of?
    - How does it change when you look at it from a different angle?

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • create a modeling clay circle design in front of two mirrors;
  • explain what a mandala is;
  • create patterns by repeating shapes;
  • demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity;
  • support their ideas with evidence found in the artworks.


Mandala Centre

  1. Set up a centre in your room where students can create a variety of mandalas.
  2. Have students:
    - arrange a variety of 3-d materials and objects in circular patterns, for example, pressing stones into air dry clay; 
    - work with paper and scissors to cut out circular shapes, for example, making a 6-pointed snowflake;
    - use a paint dauber to make circular patterns on paper;
    - share their observations with their peers.


  1. Create a centre in your classroom with the following things:
    - different colours of modeling clay
    - sets of two mirrors taped together like a book and propped up at a 90° angle on the circle segment template covered with a plastic sheet. (Downloads - CircleSegments.pdf)
  2. Gather, and make available, books about mandalas, for example, The Mandala Book: Patterns of the Universe, by Bailey Cunningham; Kids' Mandalas, by Arena Verlag; My First Mandalas - Animals, by Anna Pomaska; The Land of Shapes Vol 1: Circle Adopts a Pet, by Colin Michael McConnell; My Circle Book, by Agnese Baruzzi; Shadows and Reflections, by Tana Hoban; Math Counts: Shape, by Henry Arthur Pluckrose; Math Counts (Updated Edition): Pattern, by Henry Arthur Pluckrose
  3. Use simple geometric shapes to make a paper mandala.
  4. Download and display the Repetition poster available on this website.
    - review or teach the principle of repetition – motif, pattern
  5. Download images of mandalas from the Internet, for example,
    Tibetan Mandala
    Amitayus Mandala
    Sand Mandala
  6. Gather a variety of natural objects (or pictures) that have radial symmetry such as, grapefruit, apple, starfish, and different flowers.
  7. Display a picture of a mandala and label it with 'shape words' – circle, semi-circle, triangle, square.



  1. Conduct a read-aloud with a wordless book such as Shadows and Reflections, by Tana Hoban.
  2. Focus on how reflections and shadows are the same and how they are different.
  3. View and discuss radial symmetry in various objects and ask students to think of other things in the environment, either natural or manufactured that have radial symmetry.
  4. View and discuss the paper mandala focusing on the repetition of shapes within a larger shape.
  5. Place a pair of mirrors taped together like a book on one quadrant of the mandala with the right angle of the mirrors on the centre of the mandala.
  6. Ask students to view the mandala in the mirrors and talk about what they see.
  7. Identify the reflections and talk about angles. 
  8. Introduce the centre.
  9. Introduce the challenge.



The Challenge

  1. Create a modeling clay circle design in front of two mirrors.
  2. Explain what a mandala is.
  3. Create patterns by repeating shapes.
  4. Demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity.
  5. Support your ideas with evidence found in the artworks.

The Process

  1. Ensure that students understand the challenge.
  2. Establish success criteria with your students, for example,
    I know I am successful when I:
    - use my own ideas to make a circle design
    - repeat shapes to make patterns
    - explain what a mandala is
    - explain how I made patterns in my design
  3. Guide students through the steps outlined in the lesson plan.
  4. Observe students as they work.
  5. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.


  1. Gather students to view and discuss their art. Ask students to share:
    what they learned about making a design with modeling clay
    - what they learned about mandalas
    - what they learned about reflections

    - what they like best about their artworks
  2. Display pictures of the mandalas in the classroom.
  3. Encourage students to view the artworks and notice the different patterns and how they were created.


  1. Observe students as they work – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting.
  2. Observe students as they discuss their artworks – speaks with a clear voice, looks at audience while speaking, holds artwork to the side, provides accurate information, answers questions from the audience effectively.
  3. Observe students as they listen – looks at presenter, asks effective questions, supports ideas with evidence found in the artwork.
  4. Use a checklist to track progress. (Downloads - CirclePatterns_tracking.pdf)
  5. Have grade one students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Downloads - CirclePatterns_self-assessment)