Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Taj Mahal Models

This was one of those projects that was never intended to get as complicated as it did, but the boys were so absorbed and excited that I was happy with where it went. First of all, we had an excellent book about the Taj Mahal, by Elizabeth Mann.

The illustrations were really fun and detailed---like this one of the workers and donkeys hauling up irrigation water from the river, to fill the aqueducts. Seb and Abe were fascinated by those details.
Here is a picture of the pillars they built beneath the main sandstone platform beneath the structure. This was to prevent it flooding during the rainy season (and to elevate it to an even more pleasing prospect above the river)---the flood waters would simply flow harmlessly under the platform and then drain away. Again, the boys love this type of information.
Then there was this great fold-out diagram of the entire complex (tomb, mosques, gardens, etc.) which all the children wanted to examine minutely for hours on end. For boys who love to draw maps and plans of everything, this was totally perfect.

So it was a great book, and I had wanted to follow it up with some model-making, but preferably something simple that the children could do themselves. (The older ones, that is. For the younger ones I had this coloring page):

I found lots of rather complicated and/or expensive models to make, and some paper ones that just seemed to require cutting and folding way too delicate for me to do well, let alone a 10- and 7-year-old. Finally I found this pattern, which was simple, if not as elegant as some of the others. It just requires cutting and taping in a few places. (I also considered trying this one, but didn't get around to it.) I figured it would at least give the children a chance to visualize the structure three-dimensionally, and note the multi-angled symmetry.

After they'd taped on the Taj Mahal and the minarets, though, Sebby said he needed some pillars to set his on so it wouldn't get flooded during rainy season. And then Abe said he needed a sandstone platform to go under the marble platform. And then Seb said he needed some channels that could function as aqueducts. So I got out the beads and the cardboard and the glue (our craft supplies are limited :)) and they got to work in earnest. I was really impressed with the level of detail they achieved with their limited supplies!
You can see the aqueducts here, and the pipes carrying water to fill the fountains and irrigate the gardens. You can also see that the sandstone platform is elevated, and the marble platform elevated above that.
Seb also included the water spouts along the main fountain channel, and the foot-washing basins on the platform outside the mosque and guest-house. And inside the mausoleum itself, he made a small coffin and pasted a few pictures of intricately-patterned flooring.

Abe's front gate is suitably imposing and elaborate, as are his side gates, and his flowers and fountains are arranged with great beauty and symmetry in the gardens. Lovely!

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