Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.
Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:
- Identify and explain mosaics as an art form
- Understand the role that mosaics played in ancient Roman society
- Analyze the artistic and personal choices that go into commissioning and creating mosaics
60 - 90 minutes
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including those that allude to significant characters found in mythology (e.g., Herculean).
Explain events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text, including what happened and why, based on specific information in the text.
- Copies of the text lesson Ancient Roman Mosaic Lesson for Kids: Facts and History and lesson quiz, one for each student
- Printed black and white images of Roman gods, people, or scenes. These are going to be the templates for the mosaics, so dependent upon the size of the picture, you may want to enlarge them.
- Glue or rubber cement
- Optional: White sheets for togas
- Explain that wealthy ancient Romans lived in large homes called villas and that they were so proud of their homes that they liked to decorate them.
- Ask the class to brainstorm various ways that Romans could have decorated their homes (furniture, paintings, sculptures, etc.).
- Hand out the Ancient Roman Mosaic Lesson for Kids: Facts and History text lesson.
- Have students take turns reading aloud the introduction, as well as the 'What are Mosaics?' and 'How are Mosaics Made?' sections. Ask the class the following questions:
- How is a mosaic different than a painting?
- How is a mosaic similar to a painting?
- How much time do you think it would take to make a large mosaic?
- Have student read the 'Mosaic Art' section and the 'Lesson Summary'. Discuss:
- Where did Romans like to place mosaics? Why do you think they put them there?
- What sort of information about Roman life can we tell from mosaics?
- Hand out the lesson quiz to evaluate comprehension.
- Tell the students that they are going to become ancient Romans and make mosaics to decorate the classroom.
- OPTIONAL: Depending on the age and abilities of your students, you may want to protect their clothing for this activity. If so, consider providing simple white sheets as smocks; they can wrap the sheets around themselves like Roman togas to really get into character.
- Hand out black and white printed images of Roman people, animals, or mythological figures. If your class is particularly artistic, you can ask them to draw their own images, but this will take more time.
- Tell students that they will be turning these images into mosaics by gluing various materials directly over the designs. Inform them that mosaics are made by planning the design, then gluing one piece of the mosaic at a time.
- Hand out mosaic pieces, and remind students that they are called tesserae. Ask them to only refer to these as tesserae for the remainder of class. Depending on the age and artistic ability of your class, you may consider using small beads, sprinkles, the bright pebbles for fish tanks, or any other colored but relatively small and uniformly shaped objects.
- Give students time to complete their mosaics. Once they are done, arrange the mosaics around the classroom
- Ask students to consider their experiences with making the mosaics.
- Was it harder or easier than you expected? What was the hardest part?
- How did you decide on colors, materials, etc., to use?
- Ask students to imagine making mosaics that would fill up an entire room.
- Why were mosaics mostly found in the homes of wealthy Romans, not poor Romans?
- How much time and effort do you think went into making mosaics?
- What sorts of images do you think ancient Romans would want in their mosaics? Why?
- If you were to hire someone to make mosaics in your homes, what sort of images would you want? Why?
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