April 2, 2017

Drawing the Taj Mahal when Learning about India

Integrating elements of world cultures across the curriculum is fun, natural and fairly easy. Teaching an appreciation for different cultures early on will, I believe, have a positive impact in the future. We just finished a unit on India. You can find a list of books I use HERE and a great FREE mini poster to promote cultural appreciation HERE.
A favorite lesson is learning about, then drawing the Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahal Reading Passage and How to Drawing is engaging for middle elementary students. It has two pieces. First is a reading passage sharing the history of this world treasure presented in two formats. One is ideal for small group instruction and the other is for fluency practice. Some kids read into a whisper phone and others will do it with a partner. Either way this fluency piece promotes smooth, natural reading of a text.
Second, kids get to draw the Taj Mahal with step-by-step instructions. They love the process. I project a photo of the Taj Mahal and post the steps on the whiteboard near by. I model the process using our document camera then let them get started.
The end results show a lot of variety. Some kids add in lots of details, others.... not so much. A couple of kids insisted on using a ruler, which was fine.
I like to do this lesson after we're comfortable with text features. Using vocabulary lifted from the reading passage, kids labeled some of the architectural features - minaret, dome, arch - and eventually added a caption at the bottom. These looked great in the hall.
Drawing the Taj Mahal allows for a different sort of learning experience. It helps us notice and interpret details. It helps us remember stories. Everyone can produce a different end result - and everyone is correct.
If you like the idea of incorporating a literature piece with an art project check out these units as well.
Native American Buffalo "Hide" Craft Project and How To Reading
Famous Immigrant Biographies
Greek God/Goddess Bundle: Mini Biographies, How to Drawings and Crown