Mosaic making

After seeing the intricate mosaic floors in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery I was keen to let Cana have a go at making a mosaic tile so she would understand how they are made and how involved the process is. Well, also I love doing things like that so it’s a win-win for me and hopefully she gets to learn to love making mosaics too!  Did toy briefly with the idea of  using coloured paper on a black background to make a paper mosaic but decided it was way too boring and we should just get the old tile cement out as it’s much more fun.

making patterns

making patterns

Being only 5 this was obviously going to be a shared activity but I was surprised at how much she wanted to do by herself. First of all I gave her the little coloured tiles (tesserae is the technical term I believe but I always call ’em “little coloured tiles” in my head) and she played around for quite a while making patterns with them inside the mould but it was soon clear that she wasn’t going to be able to make a proper picture as the tiles were quite large and we were only going to make a small mosaic.

original and enlarged design

original and enlarged design

So I asked her to draw a design and she decided she was going to make a bird mosaic and drew quite a detailed picture. I enlarged it to fit the size of the mould, and omitted it’s legs (don’t they draw them up to their bodies when they’re in flight anyway, like aeroplane wheels? – hmm, as you can tell ornithology is not a strong point, luckily Cana and Jude still think I know everything about birds because I can identify a robin and a blackbird!) so it would fit into a rectangle. Then we started laying on the tiles together. She wanted a red body and head but I “guided” her gently by suggesting perhaps the beak would stand out better in red if the head was blue like the wings but although she acquiesced I think I was getting on her nerves with all my suggestions as after that she kept rebuffing all my offers of assistance, politely but firmly. “Shall I put this here for you?” – “No thank you mummy”.

"gerroff mummy, I can DO IT!"

“gerroff mummy, I can DO IT!”

I'm flying without...errr, legs

I’m flying without…errr, legs

When we got to the bits that needed cutting she’d give me a tile and say “Can you cut that bit off please” and then she’d lay it on. Did manage to help her a bit (because I love anything arty I can’t just let kids do their own sweet thing, I’m always interfering) but she did keep me in check and was totally engrossed in it. Anyway, I think it looked pretty darn good when she’d done it. This happened a week or so ago as I had a bit of trouble with making the tile. Tried to use a method I’d read about, turn the design over (I stuck it all together by patting down tape on top of it first) then pour cement into the mould. For some reason this method, which sounded feasible to me, did not work at all as the cement didn’t seem to set very well. So ended up reverting to my  tried and tested method of sticking the design on to the back of another tile. That worked fine although it was a  bit of a faff, then we grouted it (more me than her as she couldn’t really push the grout in hard enough although I pretended that she could) and hey jolly presto, a beautiful mosaic of a bird. We shall probably put it in the garden somewhere.

an authentic bonnet, waaaaay better then a sparkly Cinderella dress methinks.

an authentic bonnet, waaaaay better then a sparkly Cinderella dress methinks.

Also finished her sun bonnet today, after she loved the one at Sarehole Mill so much. Made this, very unprofessionally I might add, by cutting up an old pillow case with a ready-made frill. She was so grateful for all my hard work – she said “what about the dress?”. I said, “I’m sick of sewing now, you’ll have to wait. You only want to wear your blimmin’ Cinderella dress when you dress up anyway!” “No Mummy, I WOULD wear it” she assured me earnestly. Huh. I’ll see if she remembers.

And finally… as I’ve been at work 3 days a week all term, Christian has been trying to stick to the routine while I’m not there. He’s making a book with her on the “art” days and has been teaching her some word processing skills too. She’s been writing the cutest letters to people in Word and then I email them so she can get replies.  Here a sample:

Dear anty clare

are you having a nice day

how are ruput and isaac and uncl stevun and blue bell and

uncl stan

love cana


Dear Mummy

I just wanted to say I did hand writing

I did reading I red charile and lola and the charile and lola book was called

but where completely are we?

I wochid mama mirbell she told me all abowt grilus and cmeleus and sea horsis and elifuns to

hop you have a nice time to day here four days to morro with no work

see you

Love Cana.

(Love that she knows how many days I have off work a week!)


To Ma Ma

i’ll see you on home school ing

days i’ll see you

soon. you mit

Give me a hot choclut

you mit take me to the park

wen you get home. if you wont you can have

A hot choclut your self.

Give your self a pat on .

The back .



(experimenting with full stops here, don’t think Daddy quite explained that one properly!)

So gorgeous, the things she thinks to say, and it is all totally independent. Apart from the occasional panic if she presses a letter too hard and gets two lines of Fs or something. Honestly, how can you NOT want to homeschool?

She does have a day to do actual ‘real’ writing, with a pen. I try to make it meaningful in it’s context, so writing in a card for someone for example, rather than just writing for writing’s sake. We do such a lot of that in school, obviously because we have lots of hoops we are training them all to jump through to make the school look good in the league tables so we don’t get turned into an academy… but don’t get me started on that. The other day though, when she was watching ‘Mama Mirabelle’s Home Movies’, a nature programme on Cbeebies, Christian got her to write about what she’d been watching so she’ wrote about chameleons. It’s not really that funny but I laughed so much when I read it that I had to take a picture and put it in this blog too.

"until ther inormus"

“until ther inormus”


About helenshomeschool

A mummy and a teacher. Enjoying teaching my own three children. Hoping to inspire other parents to do likewise. View all posts by helenshomeschool

2 responses to “Mosaic making

  • Amy

    Wow this is a great effort, I have previously taught something similar to YR9 pupils who did not produce work anywhere near this quality.
    I am so jealous about home-schooling, I would love to homeschool our daughter but my husband is having none of it.

    • helenshomeschool

      Husbands eh. I told my husband that we would be homeschooling before we got married, you know, when they still listen to you. He wasn’t very keen either but has gradually come round to the idea.

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