Mandala Geometry

Mandala Geometry lesson plan

Combine geometric designs while honoring the entire universe! Discover how colors and shapes have meaning in traditional mandala art forms.

  • 1.

    The word mandala is derived from "manda" which means "essence" and the suffix "la" meaning "container." Circular mandalas are believed to symbolize the entire universe. Buddhist and Hindu monks who study this art form attempt to create a "container of essence." Research more about this traditional art form and study examples from a number of different cultures.

  • 2.

    To make your own geometric mandala that is as authentic as possible, first draw a large circle with your Crayola Color Explosion™ color-reveal marker on Color Explosion paper. Find the center of the circle and create a dot. This symbolizes the seed that all life begins with and is your starting point.

  • 3.

    Traditionally a mandala is divided into four quadrants. One monk is assigned to each section. Every detail in each of the four quadrants must face the center.

  • 4.

    The basic design of a mandala is many concentric circles with a square in the middle that represents a god being honored by the art. On each flat side of the square is a gate. These doors represent the four "boundless thoughts"--kindness, compassion, sympathy, and patience. Beginning with the outer circles, mandalas often include a ring of fire, a ring of thunderbolt designs, eight thin lines arranged to form a wide band representing the eight levels of human thought, and finally at the center, the most sacred symbol, the square.

  • 5.

    Whatever symbols you choose, be sure that the images from the gates are all aimed at the center, which is the most important. As you draw, the colors will be revealed. To stay authentic to the process, while you’re drawing, concentrate on what is most imp


  • Students compare and contrast symbols and images in traditional Buddhist and Hindu mandalas and choose symbols that have meaning to them.
  • Students research examples of traditional mandalas and associate the step-by-step process of their creation to examples of the finished artwork.
  • Students recognize the spiritual beliefs and representations in traditional creation of this art form, and use basic geometric symbols to create a replica of a mandala.


  • Find out more information about how mandalas are created by many different cultural groups, including Chinese and Native Americans.
  • Work in groups of four as monks traditionally do. Try working in silence so you can concentrate!
  • Write an essay describing your own personal values and how they are depicted in your mandala.
  • Research color meanings in mandalas (and their cultures) and create a larger mandala in another medium.
  • Assessment: Students will be successful if they create a mandala with concentric circles that has symbolic designs, a square that contains the four gates, and a dot in the center. Each student can express the meanings behind his/her choices of symbols.