Every year I do this project with my second grade classes, and they are amazed at how beautiful and well crafted Molas are. I like to pretend that we are taking a trip together to the border of Panamá and Colombia
to visit the Kuna-Yala
people so we can learn firsthand about their art.
I use a
map to locate the city and country where we currently live, and I use a paper
airplane to travel from our homebase to the lands of the Kuna-Yala.
I also love using Google Earth to show pictures of the Kuna-Yala people and the places they live. Many live on a small island in Panamá
called San Blas, and they also live in small villages in Colombia in the "Darien Gap." They speak the Tule language, and some of them speak Spanish. They are famous because of their art
which is called “Mola,” a term which also means clothes in the Tule language. The Kuna women are the ones in
charge of making the molas that
are part of their clothing. I take this opportunity to share
pictures of a few molas with
the children and ask them to describe them by naming the colors they see. I observe the pictures with my students and share with them the fact that molas are made of three layers. Two of the layers are the same shape, but with different sizes, a small shape and a big shape, laid on top of one another to expose the
different colors. Then, simple shapes are used around the main part of the art
to decorate it. All the layers are usually of different colors and are sewn by hand.
The "Make Your Own Molas" Art Project
In this project we will use the same basic technique, but instead of sewing, we will be using paper and glue.