The preparation for this art lesson was a bit time consuming. Cutting out so very many small squares of construction paper – by hand – was difficult. But worth it! The students loved this art activity. It allowed them to sit and create on their own terms, with no direct instructions or expectations. Each piece was unique. 🙂
Before starting, I compiled a selection of books and photographs that showed various Mosaics around the world. Ancient Greek and Roman mosaics, Middle Eastern and Western Asian mosaics, and Modern mosaics of today. I ensured that the selection of mosaics shown depicted both realistic type scenes, with landscapes and people, and also mosaics that were patterns and designs. Although we used squares of paper as the art medium, we also talked about and viewed mosaics made with other items – glass, rocks, bottle caps, tile, photographs, etc.
I had each colour of squares separated into large Ziplock bags. I turned down the bags so that the students would have easy access, and spread the bags over a table at the front of the class. In small groups, the students selected a small pile of squares and brought them back to their desk. They were free to get more when needed. Students used both glue sticks and white glue for this project. I found that the bottles of white glue were definitely superior. Using the glue stick for so many small squares led to sticky fingers and a base paper that was tacky with glue everywhere. When using the bottles of white glue, just encourage the students to open it a small amount and use a teeny, tiny dot of glue for each paper square.
The room looked quite messy when this project was done – confetti everywhere! – but it was easily cleaned up with a couple of students on broom duty. There were many coloured squares left over, and the students continued to use them for free art and craft time later in the year. I still have some left that my own young children enjoy using for crafts.
This activity can easily be adapted to a wide range of ages. There is no wrong way to make a mosaic and even preschool children can enjoy gluing the small squares onto paper. The older the children are, the more intricate the designs may be.