by Jackie Villegas
Paper mosaic fish.
As any parent will tell you, children just love cutting and pasting. Give a child some paper, a pair of scissors, and some glue and they will stay busy for hours. As long as it is done with adult supervision, this is a good practical life lesson that develops their fine motor skills as well as their creativity.
Making paper mosaic animals is a fun cut and paste exercise. It gives you the perfect opening to teach children about colors, animals, and new art forms. It is a simple but engrossing activity that requires few supplies and is a great way of recycling bits of paper left over from other art or craft projects.
Materials needed to make a paper mosaic animal.
Pages from old magazines or strips of colored construction paper
Glue or glue stick
White paper or illustration board
1. Decide on an animal to use for your paper mosaic. With your child, look for pictures of animals in books or magazines or online. Engage your child in conversation about each animal you see, its diet, and its habitat.
An outline of the chosen animals.
2. Draw or trace the outline of the chosen animal or animals on a sheet of white paper or illustration board. Bigger kids can do this by themselves.
3. For little kids, filling in just the animal outline will be more manageable. For bigger children, you can divide your animal outline into different sections and have them use a different color of paper for each section. Or you can add more details to your animal shape, such as fins or wings or scales.
4. Cut your colored paper or magazine pages into small pieces. They don’t have to be neat or uniform at all. Bigger kids can do the cutting by themselves, with supervision.
Colored paper cut into small mosaic pieces.
5. If you’re using magazine pages, you can let your child decide on which colors to use and then search for those colors together. This is a good opportunity to talk with little children about colors - and they will surely enjoy ripping out the pages too! If you’re using scraps of colored paper, you can just pre-cut them and sort the pieces by color into small containers.
6. Now that you have your paper pieces and animal shape ready, start by applying glue inside your animal outline. Do this in small sections. You can use glue stick, which is easier for little hands, or glue applied with a paint brush. Teach your child how to hold the glue stick and how to apply glue gradually.
7. Place the paper pieces over the glue, overlapping and trimming as needed. Keeping the paper pieces within the outline will be a good challenge for bigger kids. With little ones, just let them enjoy gluing down the paper wherever they want.
8. Continue sticking the paper pieces on until the animal shape is completely filled in.
9. You can add googly eyes or use a marker to define the features of the animal.
10. Let the paper mosaic dry.
Use this activity to broaden your children’s knowledge about art. Before you begin, give them an idea of what mosaic art looks like by showing them the works of popular mosaic arts such as Sonia King and Winold Reiss. Show them mosaic art pieces from all over the world.
There are many ways to jazz up this activity. Instead of colored paper squares, you can use bits of colored tissue paper, which will give your animal mosaic some height (and fluffiness). You can also do the mosaic on a sheet of black paper to make the colors pop out and to introduce young children to the concept of light-on-dark design. The finished mosaic can also be embellished with beads, paint, and glitter, and turned into a mask or a mobile.