Teaching Ideas

Early Learning

For Ages 3-5

Art Discussion

  • How would you describe the main figure in this sculpture? What parts of an animal do you see? What parts of a human do you see?

  • Is there anything that surprises you?

  • How many arms does this figure have?

  • Take the pose of this sculpture. How does this pose make you feel? Do you feel calm, powerful, excited, angry?

  • How does the body language of this statue give us clues about who this might be? This is Ganesha—a Hindu deity believed to be the remover of obstacles, the patron of arts and sciences, and the god of beginnings. He has the head of an elephant and the body of a human.

  • Share the story of "Why the Moon Has a Crater," also called "How the Moon Got its Rhythm," with the children. What clues from the story can you see in this sculpture?

  • Do you think this statue shows us the beginning, middle, or end of this story about Ganesha?

  • In India today, people decorate their homes with statues of Ganesha to remind them of Ganesha’s lessons. They believe if you rub his belly, it will bring good luck. Do you have anything that brings you good luck?

Encouraging Dialogue

For Students K-12

  • Ganesha is an important and popular Hindu god with the body of a human and head of an elephant. What mythological figures can you think of that are part animal and part human?

  • Describe the main figure. What is he doing? Have the students take the same pose as Ganesha.

  • How many arms does this figure have? What does he hold in his hands?

  • Ganesha has more than two arms. Why might it be important for him to have multiple arms and hands? How do his arms appear to be attached on this sculpture? Imagine that you had four, six, or eight arms. What could you do with these arms? Like Ganesha holds things in his arms that represent him and tell us about him, what objects would you hold in your arms that represent you?

  • Ganesha is believed to bring his worshipers good luck, and many Hindus keep images or sculptures of Ganesha in their homes. What are some symbols of good luck from other traditions? Do you have an object in your possession that you consider lucky?

  • In Hindu societies, most people like Ganesha. What about Ganesha's appearance would lead you to believe that he is a popular god?

  • Share the story of "Why the Moon Has a Crater," also called "How the Moon Got its Rhythm," with the students. What happened to Ganesha?

  • What did he do to the moon?

  • What does the small moon look like?

  • What is the moral of this story?

Making Connections

For Students K-12

  • Make a class list of characters and figures that are part animal and part human. Your list may include figures from ancient stories and myths, as well as contemporary comics and movies. Choose one figure to study further with a partner. What human and animal qualities combine in your character? How do these qualities provide extra strength and powers for the character? Create a comic strip describing the story or adventures of the figure.

  • Many different things symbolize good luck—four-leaf clovers, horseshoes, jade, ladybugs, etc. Research a symbol of good luck. Find out the origins, history, and use of this symbol, and organize a presentation of this information for the class.

  • Ganesha has many stories surrounding his creation and life. In small groups, research one of the stories and illustrate its scenes. Then, compile all of the illustrated stories as a class to create a large storybook.