I have taught a lot of lessons about mandalas to different ages. I first learned about them when I was in 7th grade, but never really realized how great they were until I was in college. This was one of my favorite lessons the I have ever taught about them and I was very pleased by the final products--especially because I wasn't here to finish them with the students.
I first gave them an assignment to think about the situation the pioneers had been in when they had to pack up everything important to them in a small wagon and leave home with their families never to return. (4th grade and UT history, gotta love it!) I asked them what they would feel like if they had to go through that and to consider what they would take with them if space was limited and all necessities like food, shelter...etc were taken care of by their parents. They needed to make a list of 5 things and decide which was the most important one.
Next, we filled out a worksheet to help them learn about mandalas, come up with some thumbnail sketches, symbols for their 5 things, and then to combine them all in a rough draft. For the final draft, we used compasses and rulers to make them look really nice and draw them on watercolor paper in pencil, then sharpie and then used watercolor pencils. I was so pleased when I returned from maternity leave to see these:
I realize now looking back that this project was a little hypocritical as far as mandalas go. In my attempt to have my students reflect on what was important to them, I am afraid that it backfired and sort of came off as very materialistic. So, woops! :)