Busy Hands: Desert Collage Art
Even if you haven't heard about the country in the Middle East called the United Arab Emirates (UAE), you probably know its popular city of Dubai. We've called this country home for the past four years, and Little Dude was born here, so it's only fitting that we did an exercise to learn about the culture and heritage of the UAE.
In it's present form, UAE came into existence with seven 'emirates' in 1971. Despite the country being at the forefront of urbanization, it holds a strong attachment to it's past. The people of the UAE still love the desert, which is where their heritage comes from.
For our activity, we made a collage of the desert with cut-outs from magazines, and clip art prints. I would have liked to use fabric to make the tent, but we used fabric print from a magazine instead. We made the shape as close to the ones that are put up in the desert.
Date palm trees and camels are other important symbols of UAE's culture, and they are what made survival in the desert possible.
We also put a picture of a Wind Tower - these structures are so designed that they kept the house cooled even in the desert, by circulating the wind. They are common in some buildings even now, even if they aren't used for the original purpose.
Here are some facts we discussed about the UAE while making this collage:
1. The original inhabitants of the country were desert nomads called Bedouins who made their home in what we see as the unforgiving desert. They knew the desert well, and survived by riding their camels, and getting food from natural oases where date palms and water could be found.
2. The original tents were made from camel or goat hair. The patterns we see more frequently now are elaborate woven tents of fabric. Many Bedouins today have moved to urban dwellings, or live in permanent tent structures which have modern amenities.
3. Camels sustained these people by providing dairy products (camel milk is still sold commercially here), transport, and on special occasions, meat.
4. The Date is a very nutritious fruit, and also has special religious and cultural significance in the region. The leaves of the date palm tree are used for weaving baskets.
Of course, now the UAE is more well known for it's tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, and as a tourist destination. But it's great to see how the country has managed to maintain a connection to its past through architecture and symbolism.
This post is part of Around The World In 30 Days, a series hosted on the Cutting Tiny Bites blog. Visit the blog for fantastic ideas to teach toddlers and preschoolers about cultures around the world!
Busy Hands is a series about activities and craft
you can do with toddlers and young children.