MEDICINE WHEEL – Emotions, Emphasis, Mixed Media

Students create a mixed media artwork using acrylic paints, oil pastels, fabric scraps, fine black markers, and found objects. They reflect on the emotional aspect of the Medicine Wheel, and how they express their feelings in positive ways.

Required Time

120 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 4 to Grade 8

Subject

Art Techniques
Language Arts
Visual Arts
First Nations, Metis, Inuit

Vocabulary

balance collage colour emphasis mixed media overlap syllabics

Materials

Crayola Acrylic Paint Small Plastic water containers - 1 per student Fine Permanent Black Markers Scrap Fabric Pieces Oil Pastels Foam Board or Canvases (12" x 16") Found Object (natural object connected to the student) Paint Brushes Paper Towels White Glue

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Steps

MEDICINE WHEEL – Emotions, Emphasis, Mixed Media - Step One

Step One

Begin with a circle and divide it into 4 equal sections. Label each of the quadrants. In the east is spiritual energy (our spirit); in the south is emotional energy (our hearts, our feelings); in the west is physical energy (our bodies, our actions); and in the north is mental energy (our thoughts, our thinking). Focus on the emotional aspect of human beings. Reflect on your feelings, close your eyes and focus on the  activities you do to express how you feel. What images come to your mind? What life relationships and experiences give you happiness? Write words and draw images about your feelings in the southern quandrant of the medicine wheel. Include life experiences that allow you to express your feelings in a positive way.

MEDICINE WHEEL – Emotions, Emphasis, Mixed Media - Step Two

Step Two

Brainstorm words and images connected to the emotional aspect of your life. Use a variety of shapes to express the emotional area of your life. Reflect on how you express your feelings in a positive way. What life experiences and relationships give you happiness? Use watercolour pencils to draw/paint a variety of colours. Brainstorm the different emotions connected to each colour.

MEDICINE WHEEL – Emotions, Emphasis, Mixed Media - Step Three

Step Three

Use a canvas board, or a piece of foam board to make your artwork on. Choose two acrylic paint colours that give you positive feelings. Colours that can be blended together to create another colour work well. Paint your background with the two colours, blending the colours together where they meet. Allow time for your background to dry before moving on to step four.

MEDICINE WHEEL – Emotions, Emphasis, Mixed Media - Step Four

Step Four

Use the Syllabics Chart (western Swampy Cree or from the First Nation community in your area) to translate your name into syllabics. There are many different versions of syllabic charts each connected to a different First Nation community. Write your name in syllabics using black permanent marker. Write about your feelings. What life experiences give you positive feelings? How do you express your feelings when you are sad, content, joyful, or confused? What life relationships support who you are and how you feel about yourself? Create a rough draft, edit it, then write the good copy on your painting. Use a black permanent marker to write your story.

MEDICINE WHEEL – Emotions, Emphasis, Mixed Media - Step Five

Step Five

Choose an image from your earlier brainstorming activity, or the image you included in the southern quadrant of the medicine wheel. Use oil pastels to draw the image that best expresses your emotional aspect.
 

MEDICINE WHEEL – Emotions, Emphasis, Mixed Media - Step Six

Step Six

Choose a shape to represent your feelings. Use fabric scraps to cut out multiple copies of the shape, and collage the shapes to your artwork. Place the shapes you have chosen in a way that creates balance and meaning.

MEDICINE WHEEL – Emotions, Emphasis, Mixed Media - Step Seven

Step Seven

Choose a small, natural object that connects to your feelings and represents you. Glue the found object onto your artwork in a place you would like to emphasize, your self-portrait, for example.

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  1. Blend two colours together using acrylic paints;
  2. Communicate their personal understanding of the emotional aspect represented in the medicine wheel;
  3. Communicate, through writing, a variety of positive ways they express their feelings;
  4. Draw images that communicate positive ways they share their feelings;
  5. Integrate images, words and background using collaged shapes; and
  6. Emphasize an important part of the artwork.

Extensions

  1. Discuss how growing plants helps people, and create a school garden together.
  2. Have students keep a regular journal where they can express their feelings and thoughts daily.
  3. Discuss emotions connected to colour. Examine posters, illustrations, and advertisements and explore how the creators have used colour to evoke a variety of feelings.
     

Prepare

  1. Prior to the lesson download background information about the medicine wheel. The following is a list of helpful links for developing a deeper understanding of the teachings represented by the medicine wheel:
    - Ojibwe/Powawatomi (Anishinabe) Teaching, by Elder: Lillian Pitawanakwat, 2006 (All rights reserved 4D Interactive Inc.) 
    Ojibwe     
  2. Teaching by the Medicine Wheel: An Anishinaabe Framework for Indigenous Education, by: Nicole Bell, 2014 
    Medicine Wheel 
  3. Anishinaabemdaa: Medicine Wheel, by: Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, 2014  
    Anishinaabemowin
  4. Teachings of the Medicine Wheel is a curriculum unit developed by the Ontario Native Literacy Coalition. On the Main Resources page you can download a student and teacher manual.  
    Teachings
  5. If available read The Sacred Tree, by Phil Lane, Jr. et. al., 1989. If not, there is an informative preview of the book at the following link.                       
    Sacred Tree
  6. The following link is George Littlechild's web site. He has created many books and artworks. George Littlechild's artworks tell stories, they give voice to the life stories of the First Peoples. His artworks make us think and question. Download images from the internet (artist's website), or find images in books such as George Littlechild: The Spirit Giggles Within, 2012; and In Honour of Our Grandmothers, 1994. The following artworks are examples of mixed media: Strong is the Metis man, Metis: Apeetogosan, Natashia Rae Learns Cree, and Too Ethnic Looking to Model #1
    Littlechild 
  7. Download information about the Cree Language, the many dialects, and the Cree Syllabics by following the following link: 
    Syllabics 
     

 

Introduction

  1. Introduce the students to the Cree artist, George Littlechild.
  2. Share George Littlechild's paintings: Strong is the Metis man, Metis: Apeetogosan, Natashia Rae Learns Cree, and Too Ethnic Looking to Model #1. Discuss how the human figures are feeling in each painting, and the meaning of the artworks. Explore how the artist has used colour and how the colours make you, the viewer, feel. Reflect on what the artist has emphasized in each artwork.
  3. Review the different teachings represented by the medicine wheel. Introduce the students to the 4 different aspects (physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional) that are part of each person, and represented by the medicine wheel.
  4. Reflect on each area (physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional) inviting students to share their personal understanding and meaning of each human aspect. The medicine wheel is a symbol teaching us to keep each area healthy and balanced.
  5. Focus on the emotional aspect. Ask students to reflect on how they express their feelings in a positive way.
    What life experiences and relationships give you happiness?
    - Where do you go to share your feelings?
  6. Introduce the challenge.

Activities

The Challenge

  1. Blend two colours together using acrylic paints.
  2. Communicate your personal understanding of the emotional aspect represented in the medicine wheel.
  3. Write about a variety of positive ways you express your feelings.
  4. Draw images that communicate positive ways you share your feelings.
  5. Integrate images, words and background using collaged shapes.
  6. Emphasize an important part of your artwork.

 

The Process

  1. After reflecting on the 4 aspects of human beings (physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental) represented by the medicine wheel, ask students to use their sketchbooks to draw a circle and divide it into 4 equal sections.
  2. Label each of the quadrants. In the east is spiritual energy (our spirit); in the south is emotional energy (our hearts, our feelings); in the west is physical energy (our bodies, our actions); and in the north is mental energy (our thoughts, our thinking).
  3. Read The Sacred Tree, Bopp, Bopp, Brown & Lane Jr., 1995.
  4. Explain to students that First Nations communities are diverse and may have different teachings connected to each direction.
  5. Ask students to begin in the southern quadrant of the medicine wheel with the emotional aspect of human beings. Ask them to draw images, paint colours (with watercolour pencil crayons), and include words that express their feelings. Ask the students to write/draw about positive ways they express their emotions, for example, creating art, dancing, listening to music, journaling.
  6. Reflect on the Cree Language by exploring the different dialects, and examining the Mushkegowuk Cree Syllabics Chart.
  7. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  8. Observe students as they work.
  9. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.

Sharing

  1. Once all the artworks are complete ask students to bring their mixed media artworks into a large circle.
  2. Invite each student to share how they express their feelings in positive ways.
  3. During the circle discussion include references to colour and the emotions connected to the colours chosen.
  4. Ask students to share how they have created emphasis and balance in their artworks.
  5. Ask students to reflect on the objects they chose to add emphasis in their artworks, and the meaning of the natural objects to them.

Assessment

  1. Observe students as they work - exploring, experimenting, adding detail, thoughtful focus.
  2. Listen to and observe students as they discuss the artworks - attentive listening, insightful contributions.
  3. Use a checklist to track progress (Download - EMOTIONS_tracking.pdf).
  4. Have students reflect on their own artworks in their sketchbooks. Ask students:
    What worked well in your artwork? Why 
    - What would you change or do differently next time?   
    - Explain how you express your feelings.