Thursday, March 8, 2012

6th grade - Wishin' on a Daruma


Never heard of a Daruma? Check it out; it's a great story!

This photo is of an authentic Daruma.

The Daruma is a Japanese toy, based on the legend of Bodidharma, the founder of Zen Buddhism. According to legend, he sat meditating in a cave for 9 years without moving. At the end of that time, his arms and legs had atrophied and he lost all use of them, so he rolled from India to Japan to spread his teachings. Another legend says that he dozed off during those 9 years and got angry that his eyes closed. So he cut off his eyelids and threw them in the dirt, where they grew into tea plants (tea of course helping to keep people awake).

The Daruma toy represents Bodidarma. It has a rounded body and weighted bottom, so that no matter what, it always returns to a standing position, symbolizing Bodidharma's positive attitude and self-discipline. The toy is purchased with blank eyes. The owner paints in the eye upon making a wish or beginning a project. When the wish comes true or the project is complete, the other pupil is painted. Politicians use Darumas for good luck in elections, painting one eye when they begin pursuing a political office, and painting the other one when they have won the election.


My 6th graders built their Daruma dolls using plastic Easter eggs from the $1 store. They used plasticine clay in the bottom to weight them, and some students also chose to add plaster of Paris to the bottom for additional weight. They were then covered with one layer of papier-mache using white newsprint paper, and then painted with traditional coloring but using their own designing. Because they are small, they were given the option to either paint the face or draw it on with a black Sharpie marker. The Darumas pictured below were just completed, and all have been wished upon, as you can see by the single black pupil on each one. I hope they are able to grant the wishes of my wonderful 6th graders!

10 comments:

  1. Thanks for the lesson -- I knew nothing about Darumas and now I do!! What a clever idea for kids to make!! I can imagine quite a few adaptions for the weighted egg, too:)

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  2. I first started making these YEARS ago when L'Eggs panty hose came inside a nice egg. The large size of the eggs was great for making Darumas, but now that I'm using Easter eggs it gets too expensive to use the larger ones. These were a little hard to handle while painting, but we did them concurrent with another project so we could do one step (paint the face for example) and leave to dry while working on something else.

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  3. Thanks for this great idea, Phyl! We are going to have an Asian influence next fall in the Art department and are collecting ideas.

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  4. Those are fun. I have never heard of these. You are so clever!

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  5. I should have mentioned: the original motivation for this lesson came from a School Arts Magazine article from (gulp) March 1983. Many of my readers weren't alive yet when it was written. Eeks. The article was written by Mary Alice Hammond from the Armitage Academy, Kenosha Wisconsin. Her students' Darumas were made by papier-mache-ing several layers over 5" balloons or plastic sandwich bags stuffed with newspapers. I used the eggs to make it a real quick project to tuck in between other stuff we have been doing.

    When I eat dinner at my favorite Japanese restaurant, I can't help but notice that on the counter, which divides the hibachi table room from the rest of the restaurant, there rest a whole batch of Darumas.

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  6. Fun lesson, Phyl!

    I have a blog related questions for you. How did you get the individual "reply" links in your comment area? They would be super helpful to have around. Thanks so much!
    -Zach

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    1. Ha ha... the truth is, Zach, that the "reply" link just showed up one day and I can't figure out where they came from at all. I have not done ANY formatting changes to my blog in ages and ages. If I knew, I'd be happy to tell you!

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  7. Greetings from the Daruma Museum in Japan.
    We did the easter eggs with real eggs with the kids here a few years back.

    Gabi

    Daruma Museum Japan
    http://darumamuseum.blogspot.com/2008/06/tamago.html
    .

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    1. Gabi, thanks for the link! I loved looking at all the real egg Daruma photos! Smiles...

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  8. Using this project with my 3rd graders right now!

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