first grade mosaic workshop

Written by Elizabeth Austin

Today, a class of first graders came to the high school for
two hours. A group of 11 other high school mosaic students and I were chosen to
help them create their very own mosaics. Collectively, we mosaicked 8 garden
pavers using tile and leftover flowers from The River of Giving. Once we grout
them, they will be auctioned off at an event to raise money for the school. The
whole thing went so much smoother than any of us expected and each group
actually produced a really awesome piece.

Each child got to experience the fun of smashing (though
each tile was covered with a sheet of thin plastic and we made sure to be
sticklers about safety glasses, despite the fact that they were much too large
for any of the kids).  We even smashed a
little too much tile, because it was just so much fun. Each group had one high
schooler and a group of three children, and for the most part, we pretty much
let the kids make all the decisions. They thought of some really interesting
things that us older people never would have. My group, for example, utilized
the pieces from some flowers to make a shooting star and a different type of
flower. The fact that they were all just bursting with ideas and creativity was
really refreshing. The kids had a blast moving the pieces and flowers around. And
they were incredibly delighted to be let in on “secret mosaic terms” like
“sweet piece” and “glue baby.”

When showing them all of mosaics around campus, the little
first graders were in awe. As they were climbing over the animals on the stairs
and laughing about being “in the river”, one of them remarked how us students
(who had worked on the large collaborative project) must be “real artists”. For
the rest of the time, I kept emphasizing that they could be real artists as
well, and that they were. You don’t have to be big to be a real artist. I saw so
much energy and passion and intensity from them that I didn’t expect. And in
the end, they were so proud of themselves, and so confident in the fact that
they had become “real artists”.

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