Title of Lesson: Goodwill Flags
Background: Traditionally carrying messages of peace, compassion, prosperity, or happiness, goodwill flags are a rich part of Tibetan Buddhist culture. Encourage the children’s interest in the Asian culture by creating a goodwill flag for them to take home inscribed with a special message to share with the world.
- 3" x 4" piece of smooth fabric in any color
- Fabric paint, sharpies or fabric markers
- Safety pins
- List of the meaning behind the flag colors
- List of the symbols used and their meanings
- Visual aids: world map, color wheel, picture of all elements, picture of four dignities
- Dar cho: Tibetan word for Goodwill Flag; “Dar” means to increase life, fortune (good luck), health and wealth. “Cho” means all sentient beings.
- Element: Things that make up the universe (earth, wind, fire, water)
- Goodwill Flag: A colorful rectangular piece of cloth often hung along mountain ridges to bless the countryside or send out a message of goodwill
- Immigrant: A person who comes from another country or place to live
- Mantra: A phrase used to either create a good feeling, or free yourself from a bad one
- Native: A person who was born in a place and has stayed there ever since
- Sentient: Anything that feels things (animal, human, bird, etc.)
- Symbol: Something that stands for something else
- Tell the students that the Asian tradition started 2000 years ago in Tibet. Ask them to find Asia and then have them locate Tibet on the map. Dar cho is Goodwill Flag in Tibetan. “Dar” means to increase life, fortune (good luck), health, and wealth. “Cho” means all sentient beings.
- 2000 years ago, Tibet was ruled by war lord who carried their banners into battles. The native people however made their own flags to honor their religion.
Have children locate our state and country flag — Are these flags used to honor anything? (Yes, they honor our natives and all the immigrants who have contributed to our country)
- Tell them that there are five different colored flags that are hung right next to each other to create a complete goodwill message. Each flag color represents an element. Explain to them what an element is. Tell them what the five elements are and the flag color they are connected to:
Blue (sky or space)
White (air or clouds)
- These flags were hung over mountain passes and rivers to benefit all who passed underneath. It is also a belief that when the wind blows, the Goodwill messages written on the flags are carried to those around them.
For K-1, have colored cards that have each color. When stating the color of the flag, have the students point to it. Ask them why they think the flag that represents clouds is white, why they think the blue flag represents the sky, etc.
For 2-5, have a picture of the elements (sky, a cloud, fire, water, earth) and ask them if they can guess what color is associated with each element. Ask them why they think the Tibetans chose this color
- Tell the students that each flag contains a message of peace or happiness. Each flag expresses a wish to the world. The writings on the flags may also contain a mantra. Explain to the students what a mantra is. Provide examples. A mantra is a phrase used to either create a good feeling, or free yourself from a bad one (ex. I love myself, Love everyone around you, I am a great student).
Ask each student to write down one mantra that they would like to place on their flag.
- All Goodwill flags also have symbols on them. Usually there is a horse in the middle with a garuda, sky dragon, snow lion, and tiger on each corner. These four animals are known as the four dignities. (make sure to have pictures of each as visual aids)
- Ask the children to describe the word symbol and to give you an example of a symbol. If none is given.
Keep a list of the symbols for students to see and add to their flag during the activity (if necessary, define the meanings to students):
Garuda - awareness
Sky Dragon - vision
Snow Lion - confidence
Tiger - power
Wind Horse - humility
- Ask children to think about what good message they would like to give to the world (may give smaller children ideas: May all children be able to play outside, May all people live their life with love, May all dogs have food to eat, I would like my sister to grow up healthy, etc.)
- Show the students these symbols if they would like to use them as their borders.
- Once the students have written their message and have finished drawing, hang them on a clothes line or yarn outside for their entire neighborhood to receive their message.