Friday, January 18, 2013

Art With Kids: Watercolor Mosaics

Here's a simple yet satisfyingly delicious recipe for a fun day of art:

lots of plain white printer paper
watercolor paints, brushes and cups of water
paper cutter
white glue and/or glue sticks

If your artists are so inclined, share with them some photos of great art made in mosaic style and talk a bit about the history and mechanics of mosaic technique. Keep your presentation light and fresh, and move on before their eyes glaze over.

1. Turn your artists loose with the watercolor paints to create many pages full of colorful stripes, solids, and splatters. Toddlers are particularly good at this, especially when strapped into their high chairs.  Let the paintings dry while you eat lunch.

2. With a paper cutter, slice the paintings first into one-inch strips, and then one-inch by one-inch squares.

3. Let your artists sort through this lovely pile of colored squares and pick out a nice big handful of favorites. 

4. Hand each artist a piece of the graph paper and show them how to use the lines on the paper as a guide to arranging their squares. Depending on their dexterity and your ability to tolerate a mess, you may give them scissors and encourage them to cut some of the squares into fourths, so their designs can be more intricate.

You can hand over the glue at this point, too - some artists prefer to lay out their entire piece and then glue everything down at the end; others like to glue as they go. There are also different philosophies on white glue versus glue sticks. I encouraged my artists to try both, and decide which works best for them.

For the record, I find that little boys love to create this sort of art, but sometimes lack the patience and fine motor skills to glue down all those floppy little squares. While I would never interfere with a child's creative process, I have no problem helping a brother out with a simple glue job.

5. Stand back and watch the beauty unfold!

This recipe yields many beautiful designs and a roomful of happy artists, just like this one. Enjoy!


  1. I'm doing this next week with my 3rd graders! We have to (are allowed to!) have an art class one 49 minute period per week. My favorite 49 minutes of the week. (except for last week when Emmanuel cut a bit of Erik's hair because he was mad!)
    When I get back to school on Tuesday, I send pictures of our last two weeks projects.
    Loved our beautiful Christmas card!

    1. Awesome! Can't wait to see the pics and I'd also like an update on what Erik does to Emmanuel, in retaliation for the haircut!

  2. I have a friend who teaches preschool. Do you think this would work with 4 year olds? She loves doing art projects with her kids.

    1. The little girl in my last pic is exactly 4 years old, and she had a blast with it. I might use a half sheet of graph paper, so a child with less dexterity or a shorter attention span would not be intimidated by that big blank piece of paper, but otherwise, I'd say it's a go for preschool. :)


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