Mosaics are an art form that has been practiced for centuries throughout the world. Traditionally, artists constructed intricate patterns from small ceramic tiles or pieces of glass. Commercially produced tiles tend to be expensive and broken glass pieces can be dangerous. Fortunately, there are many ways to adapt mosaic projects to make them safer, which is especially important when working with children. Teachers can incorporate simple mosaic projects into lesson plans on ancient cultures, mathematical patterns and tessellations.
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Polymer Clay Mosaics
Polymer clay makes a good substitute for ceramic tiles or opaque gemstones. Students can roll out polymer or similar hardening clay into thin sheets and cut them into tiles of assorted shapes and sizes. Small squares in teal and red resemble the turquoise and coral tiles that ancient Aztecs used for mosaics.
Kids can save eggshells from colored Easter eggs for mosaic projects. Eggshells create the same effect as small pieces of glass, without any danger to children. Select larger shells for simple projects and reserve smaller pieces for more complex projects.
Paper mosaics are a simple, inexpensive project for young children. Kids can rip or cut paper into pieces, either in squares or organic shapes. Adults can use a paper cutter to make larger quantities of paper tiles.
Organic Material Mosaics
Students can collect organic materials, such as shells, seeds and corn kernels. Uniformly shaped organic materials, arranged symmetrically, make beautiful radiating, mandala-like designs. Students can include durable materials like shells in outdoor mosaic projects.