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Easy Mandala Art For Kids and Beginners

This is such an amazing art lesson for children. Artists of all ages will love creating a unique mandala and learning about radial balance.

mandala art project with blue, orange and green paint on a cardboard circle.

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Use cardboard circles to help create beautiful mandalas with upper elementary-aged students and beyond. Designs that have radial symmetry can be fun for all to create and can help you enjoy the present moment. Adding your own symbols and ideas is a wonderful way to create a unique mandala design that represents you.

painted circle mandala project with water cup and paint palette on table.

What is a mandala?

According to Adobe, “In ancient Sanskrit language of Hinduism and Buddhism mandala means “circle.” Traditionally, a mandala is a geometric design or pattern that represents the cosmos or deities in various heavenly worlds.” 

There is a meditative quality when drawing a mandala. Even our simple experience of creating repetitive lines and shapes had a calming effect during this fun art project.

Mandalas are a great inspiration for beginners and children because there really is no wrong way to make your own mandala. You can create nature mandalas or use bright colors with geometric patterns. This art lesson allows you to gain a better understanding of different cultures while making a final artwork that represents you.

Great Video Resource About How Real Sand Mandalas Are Made

In this video (which is awesome to show children), you are able to see sand art being created. They talk about how nothing is permanent and that the process is just as important as the end results.

You can see how Buddhist monks create beautiful designs out of colored sand. Young artists will be amazed at the patience and different designs demonstrated in the video.

This video opens up a fun discussion about process art. You can prompt with questions such as:

  • Why would people erase all their art?
  • What does that symbolize?

Kids can give really insightful ideas about the purpose of art and the spiritual practices shown during a mandala project.

tempera cakes, cardboard circle with designs, gold and silver paint markers on brown board.

Supplies

*Make sure that cardboard circles are uncoated. If they are glossy they are harder to add paint to them. You will see some brown examples where we accidentally ordered those. They still worked, but the colors will not be as bright.

Why use tempera cakes?

In a larger classroom setting or even just at home, tempera cakes are a great way to have a little less mess while providing color options for kids. I have painted these on white cardboard circles and on brown.

The tempera cakes when used properly can show up on both colored cardboards, but you will get brighter colors on the white base.

If you don’t have cardboard, you could always create paper plate mandalas instead.

What are the best tempera cakes for kids?

We have used these Jack Richeson ones before. The basic colors work really well especially if you show students how to add white colors to make tints when painting on brown cardboard.

However, recently I purchased the extra colors from this pack and am excited to see what might happen.

Jack Richardson tempera cake paint palettes.

There are also fluorescent tempera cakes and this project would look amazing under black lights!

How To Create A Mandala Inspired Art Project For Kids

There are so many ways to create fun mandala artwork and it can be an excellent way for children to understand the art principle of balance.

For the purpose of this drawing, make sure your mandala makers understand that they are going to create a mostly symmetrical drawing. Their circular design won’t be 100% accurate.  You can even do some simple snowflake drawings to help them to understand radial balance.

Their artworks should also represent them. If they want to add baseballs into their artwork to show his/her favorite sport, let them. Remember it isn’t about recreating what has already been done, but about creating art that represents the artist (or child).

Process art is just as important as the final product.

Are you looking for another fun drawing project? Check out our free cartooning guide ALL kids love!

How To Draw A Mandala For Beginners

Before you begin you should teach kids about symmetry. Show examples of items in nature that may have symmetry or even just everyday objects. We also have used this drawing idea to create a fun black-and-white radial design for our easy food sculptures.

How to draw mandala with dot in the middle and line down the center.

Step 1: Add Dot

Put a dot in the center of the circle.

Step 2-5: Create 8 “Equal” Sections

Here is the specific language we used to help children do this themselves.

Divide the circle in half so that your line is touching the center of their mandalas.

white circle being split into 8 equal parts.

Step 3: Rotate the circle to draw it in half again to make fourth

Step 4: Rotate the circle again and draw in line. 

Step 5: Rotate one more time to make 1/8 or 8 equal pieces of the pie.

Bonus Math Lesson

You can have kids talk about equal and unequal fractions when drawing these designs. There is always a way to tie in Math and Art together!

Step 6: Begin Designing By Using Repetition

Start in the center of the mandala with one piece of the pie. Draw a shape in one part of the pie (or pizza slice) and then repeat the shapes in all of the pieces in the same spot on all pieces. 

3 different images of circle with same lines being repeated in the same spots in the circles.

For each circular layer, use simple lines and shapes to create a fun radial design. Keep adding different mandala patterns and simple shapes until your circular pattern is completed.

This is a great opportunity to encourage kids to be unique and take their time.

Optional: Outline Designs

Trace the designs in Sharpies or black permanent markers. This will help them see their designs better when using tempera paint.

white carboard circle with black radial marker designs on table with paint.

How To Use Tempera Cake Paints On Cardboard Circles

  • Show how to activate the tempera cakes by adding water.
  • If kids have too much water show them how to scrape extra paint on the edge of the water container or paint pallet.
  • You can choose to say kids should paint these in a symmetrical way or allow creative freedom. We have done it both ways and kids like the results of this easy mandala art.
  • Some children may need to add a second coat on top of dry tempera paint to get a pop of color.
  • Use a small brush to add extra details and designs.
hand holding brush painting mandala design with tempera cakes.

Optional Step: Draw Extra Details and Designs

Use a paint marker, black Sharpie, or colored Sharpies to add more designs on top of the dried tempera paint.   

zoomed in view of painted mandala with gold marker on it.

Options For Hanging

  • Use fishing line and hang a mobile
  • Prop on small easels.
  • Pin to a board.
  • Add to a large doll rod to display multiple in a row.

Art Lesson FAQs

How can I encourage kids to express their creativity through mandala art?

You can encourage creative expression by having kids choose their own themes or incorporating personal elements into their mandalas. Remind beginners that while symmetry helps to provide structure when drawing, they can still add unique elements, colors, or details to make their mandalas stand out.

How do you start mandala art for beginners?

Sketching guidelines lines radiating from the center of your shape to create sections. These lines will help you repeat shapes and lines in your mandala’s design. You can decide how many sections you want based on the complexity you desire.

How do you make a simple mandala?

A circle shape is the easiest to work with when drawing a simple mandala. Create guidelines or sections that help you to create radial symmetry. Begin in one section and design a pattern or shape. It can be as simple as drawing small dots, lines, curves, or repeating shapes like triangles or circles. Let your creativity guide you. Repeat the pattern in each section, mirroring it on both sides of the dividing lines.

Follow us on Pinterest for more free art and craft ideas!

More Upper Elementary Art Projects

Display each mandala craft with pride and love what your young artists created. Mandalas are the perfect subject matter for beginners to draw, paint and express their creativity.

Do you like this art project? Be sure to give us 5 stars below 🤩🤩🤩🤩🤩 and have fun being creative with your family.

Easy Mandala Art Idea

This mandala art project is perfect for older children (8 years and up) and beginners. Create a simple or more intricate mandala design with our step-by-step instructions.
Print Tutorial
radial symmetrical designs on a cardboard circle.
Prep:5 minutes
Creating:1 hour
Total Time:1 hour 5 minutes

Equipment

  • Paintbrushes
  • Water container
  • Pencils

Supplies

Instructions

  • Put a dot in the center of the circle.
  • Divide the circle in half so your line touches the center of your mandala.
  • Rotate the circle to draw in half again to make four equal parts.
  • Rotate the circle again and draw in line. 
  • Rotate one more time to make 8 equal parts all touching the center dot.
  • Draw a shape in one part of the pie (or pizza slice) and then repeat the shapes in all of the pieces in the same spot on all pieces.
  • Repeat lines and shapes in the same spot on each piece until you have finished your design. Optional: You can outline with a black permanent marker,
  • Use tempera cakes to paint your cardboard circle.
  • Once dry, use makers to add extra details and designs.

Notes

Tips For Using Tempera Cakes

  • Show how to activate the tempera cakes by adding water.
  • If kids have too much water show them how to scrape extra paint on the edge of the water container or paint pallet.
  • You can choose to say kids should paint these in a symmetrical way or allow creative freedom. We have done it both ways and kids like the results of this easy mandala art.
  • Some children may need to add a second coat on top of dry tempera paint to get a pop of color.
  • Use a small brush to add extra details and designs.
Author: Erin
Cost: Less than $5

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4 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    If possible, could mandala art be done on more of a permanent medium and then used outside on a walkway or as tiles on the bottom of a small building in order to have a unique and beautiful/ colorful addition to a home, building, etc.? If so, does anyone have any suggestions how to do this (what paints) and what to seal it w/ so it would be sustainable? Thanks for any ideas.

    1. Hi Linda. It is hard to say depending on the surface you are painting on. I would think tiles would be a little difficult but if you could get a primer to stick then acrylic would work. Adding a non-yellowing topcoat would also be very important.
      I would recommend going to even a local paint store for homes and showing pictures to see what they think. As with any outdoor mandala painting project, as prepping the surface, priming and sealing will be the most important. Let us know what you end up trying.