Mosaic Tile Art Context

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Mosaic Tile Art
Context: This is a fifth grade lesson on the culture of Catalonia. Within this lesson, we will focus on the architecture of famous Spanish artist, Antonio Gaudi. This lesson incorporates both fifth grade art and geography benchmarks.
Objectives: Students will be able to demonstrate their understanding of one aspect of Catalonian culture by creating a mosaic art tile they would put in a building if they were a Spanish architect.

Fifth Grade:
* Identify artistic elements and principles which can be used to analyze works of art. (Arts)

* Identify personal preferences and their relationship to artistic elements. (Arts)

* Identify distinguishing features of works of art and their historical and cultural contexts.


* Describe how historical or contemporary events influenced or influence works of art. (Arts)

* Create, present and/or perform a single form of art, using experiences, imagination, artistic

methods and composition to achieve desired effect. (Arts)

* Communicate, using an extended vocabulary related to various art forms. (Arts)

* Define basic geography vocabulary such as concepts of location, direction,

distance, scale, movement, and region using appropriate words and diagrams. (Geography)


  • 9X11 sheets of white construction paper

  • multiple sheets of different colored tissue paper

  • glue/glue sticks

  • scissors

  • Books with pictures displaying Antonio Gaudi’s architecture (to use for examples)

Introduction: (10 minutes)
Catalunya or Catalonia: (2 min.)

(Note: depending on where you look you will find different spellings. As best as I can see, Catalonia is the English spelling, Catalunya is the Catalan spelling and Cataluna is the Castilian Spanish spelling. )

Catalunya is a region of Spain in the Northeast corner, right by the Mediterranean Sea. They have their own language called Catalan. It is somewhat a combination of Spanish and French. There flag is called Senyera. It has 4 horizontal red stripes, alternating with 5 yellow stripes. . The Sardana is a traditional Catalunian dance. During the 1930s, the people of Catalunya fought to for autonomy. Does anyone know what autonomy is? (independence, freedom, self-government) They had their own government, language, culture and laws until the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). General Francisco Franco took control of Spain after the Civil War and ended Catalunya’s independence. The Catalan people were even forbidden to speak their language. Franco was a dictator. What is a dictator? Can anyone think of someone else who was a dictator that we have studied? His rule was law. Anyone who questioned Franco brutally dealt with. There were no more fair elections and in July 1947, a law was passed that made Franco head of state for life. Franco died in 1975. In 1977, Catalunya was once again allowed some independence and autonomy. People of Catalunya see themselves as Catalunian first, and Spanish Second. Catalunya has a national holiday and feast day on September 11th.
Barcelona (2 min.)
Barcelona is the capital of Catalunya. It is an exciting European city that is rich with culture. There are many things to see or do within the city and many traditional activities. There is the Museu Picasso that contains thousands of pieces of art. There are also many festivals including Carnival, Barcelona International Jazz Festival, and the Barcelona Streets Arts festival. Jazz music is very popular in Barcelona and there are many jazz music venues in the city. Las Ramblas is the main roadway within the city, and it is always bustling with people, noise, and exciting things to see. There are markets, performers, and vendors. Barcelona hosted the 1992 Olympics. A traditional Spanish dish is Paella, which is rice and seafood cooked together in a frying pan. Tappas, little hors d’oeuvres, are another traditional food item. What are hors d’oeuvres? The architecture in Barcelona is unique and beautiful, and one of the most notable architects is Antonio Gaudi.
Antonio Gaudi: (3 min)

Antonio Gaudi was born in Catalonia, Spain in 1852 and he became one of Spain’s most famous architects. As a child, he became fascinated with observing plants, animals and forms in nature which became highly influential in his architectural designs later in life.

Gaudi studied architecture at the Provincial School of Architecture in Barcelona. Here he became known for his outlandish ideas and style, and he was the only one of four students to be granted the title of Architect.

Gaudi’s sources of inspiration in the creation of his architecture included: Medieval books, Gothic art, Oriental structures, the glory of nature, and the Art Noveau movement, named after a School of French decorative artists from the 1890’s who used the shapes in plants and nature as their inspiration. Drawing from so many different kinds of artistic inspiration, Gaudi’s architecture clearly reflects this variety in its structure, color and materials.

Throughout his life, Gaudi’s art progressed through 5 distinct stages:

* Eastern Influence: 1883-1888

-Neogothic combined with the exotic: arches, garden waterfalls, cast iron, brilliant

oriental ceramics

* Neogothicism: 1883-1909

-Gothic; Medieval structures

* Naturalism: 1895-1916

-most creative period; inspired by nature; bright colors; no straight lines or planes; used

wood, plaster, clay, and metal

* Straight-Line Geometry: 1908-1917

-simple geometry: lines and planes on regular, solid forms

* Definitive Style: 1892-1926

-straight line geometry and equilibrated structures

This style is considered to be best represented by the Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona. Gaudi began this project at the age of 31 and dedicated the following 42 years of his life to this architectural masterpiece, until he died suddenly at the age of 73. After 115 years of work, the Sagrada Familia is still under construction to this day and is considered one of Barcelona’s most famous landmarks.

Mosaics (5 minutes)

  • Gaudi was famous for his beautiful architecture. Many of his buildings have a surface decoration called mosaics. Does anyone know what a mosaic is?

  • A mosaic is a decoration comprised of small pieces of glass, stone, ceramics, or other material set into cement. The pieces form a picture.

  • Mosaics are most commonly found on floors, walls, or ceilings, but they can also be found in sculptures, pictures, and other pieces of art

  • In ancient times, mosaics we made of small pebbles, but later of cut or shaped marble, terracotta, glass, mother-of-pearl.

  • The shaped pieces are called tesserae or tassellae. These pieces are placed in putty, cement, or plaster to help the stay in place.

  • Technique for arranging to pieces include:

    1. Opus tesselatum-simple geometric patterns

    2. Opus vermiculatum-small stones arranged in patterns of curved lines, including pictures of objects

    3. Opus musivum-mosaic decorations of walls

    4. Opus sectile-a pattern composed of larger stones of varied shapes

  • Show pictures and slides of mosaic buildings by Gaudi

Learning Activity: (30 Minutes)

  1. Explain to students that they are now going to create a piece of art similar to one of the styles Gaudi was famous for—mosaic forms.

  2. Prompt them by showing example pictures of some of Gaudi’s mosaic art tiles he used in his buildings: talk about the bright colors, nature themes, curved lines, etc.

  3. Next, allow students to think about how they would create their own mosaic tile to go on a floor or wall, if they were to design their own building.

  4. Provide each student with a piece of white construction paper (white is best for the purpose of displaying the colored tissue paper).

  5. Provide as many colors of tissue paper as possible.

  6. Provide scissors for students to cut shapes for their tile designs, or allow them to tear the paper.

  7. Glue tissue pieces onto construction paper to create own personal tile mosaic.

Closure: (10 minutes)

Once everyone has the opportunity to create their own personal mosaic tile, give students a chance to their work to explain the significance of their designs. Ask students about what kind of features in their tiles are similar to Gaudi’s work. Ask them about how they think culture/events can influence one’s art. Ask what they enjoyed about the activity, and what they did not enjoy as well.

Extension Activities:
Perform the Sardana:

Catalunya's typical dance is the sardana. It is danced making a circle of people holding hands who follow the steps with the music's rhythm.

Build castles:

A well-known traditional activity in Catalunya is the castles, or human towers. The different groups compete in order to look who makes the higher castles. Taking part on a castle means to have a great resistance and balance, since the weight carried -above all, by the base components- is huge.

Create a street performance:

Students can work in pairs, groups or individually to come up with their own street performance. They can play like they are a statue, a toy, an animal, or anything they can think of.

Paint a Picasso:

Students can look at various works of Picasso and paint their own picture using elements similar to Picasso.

Student Evaluation:

In this lesson, student evaluation should be done throughout the activity, with attention being given to the child’s participation in the tile creation, as well as to his or her responses to the questions during closure time.

Teacher Evaluation:

Although this activity does not require many intricate steps for children to follow, it is still important that the teacher be interacting with the children, available for questions, and actively facilitating the lesson throughout.

Barcelona, Tell Us about Gaudi

H. Kliczkowski Asppan

Gaudi and Modernism in Barcelona
by H. Kliczkowski Asppan
Gaudi: Complete Works

Aurora Cuito,Cristina Montes


Mike Venezia

Picasso for Kids

Margaret E. Hyde

Barcelona, Tell Us about Yourself
by Fina Rifa
Barcelona, Tell Us More about Gaudi

Fina Rifa / Kliczkowski Publishers / Architecture

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