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Monday, 18 April 2016

School Holiday Project 25: Introducing Kids to Mosaics

Today I show you how to approach mosaics with very young kids. Your aim shifts and you look for different outcomes. Basically, it can be compared to free-form puzzle building. Sounds daunting? There are a few tricks I share that will make it easier achieve. We make some pot stands to surprise Mom with for this project.

When selecting tiles for the project, I looked for tiles that were almost similar in size and shape. Small kids do not need to be encumbered with the difficulties of fitting odd-sized and -shaped tiles onto a surface. Once they have mastered mosaics a little, you can upgrade them to these.

I then found some leftover masonite from a previous project and sawed these into 7" x 7" squares. The reason I choose to work with inches, rather than centimetres, is because the tiles fit properly into inch-sized squares.

To make it easier for these novices to get their tiles into neat rows, I draw guidelines on the masonite, dividing the wood into a grid of 1" x 1" squares.

Then I cut the tiles apart and carefully trim the white net backing to fit the tiles. Do not remove this backing, as it will assist the tiles in clinging to the masonite. The kids may get bored sticking this whole process out, but you can get them to help with a small portion of the tiles. Now sort the tiles into containers to help them organize their selections.

I told them to plan their layout at least partially before sticking the tiles down with wood glue. Give guidelines here. Let them start on the outer frame and work their way to the center. This little girl wanted to glue each tile individually and was very careful about wiping any spills away.

This practical boy was in a bit more of a hurry and unpacked his tiles row by row, laying down a line of glue and then putting the tiles back in place.

Once the tiles were packed, we let them dry in the sun while the kids were released to play outside. Do you notice that I did not force my own opinions or will on them at all? There is no pattern or sense to their layouts. They were simply required to find a way of filling the spaces with tiles that they liked. It builds confidence in kids when you allow them to explore their own creativity instead of always having to follow your ideas to the letter.

Once the glue was dry, I turned the projects over and called them to watch me write their names on the backs. This is important to kids and gives them a sense of ownership. I used a chisel point Black Posca Marker for the writing.

It was time now to mix the grouting. I had light grey grouting on hand and this is what we would use. I poured the grouting into a little bit of water and the kids took turns at mixing it. Lumps are easy enough to get rid of with a quick stir after they are done, so feel free to allow them to mix the grout themselves.

I then poured the grout onto the tiles and told them to rub it into the grooves and holes with their hands and fingers. This was pure delight to them. Just look at those faces, if you don't believe me.

Even this little girl, who normally detests getting her hands dirty, had great fun with the grouting. The tiles were once more left in the sun for the grouting to dry a little. In the meantime, we had time enough for a quick snack and something to drink.

Then it was time to wash the tiles and each child was given a damp cloth.

This little one kept on wanting to clean out the grout between the tiles and it needed explaining to him the purpose of grout before he gave it up. Don't we too often make the mistake of assuming that kids already know things, when they still need to be told? Fortunately we had a tiled floor that served as a good example of what I was talking about.


Our little man's medicine was starting to work out and the eyes were drooping, but he was still a trooper.

Mom had two new pot stands and the kids could take pride in their workmanship at future meals. Job well done!

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Remember to keep nurturing your TALENT for making PRETTY things.
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