Make A Roman Mosaic – Information & Crafts for Kids
Updated: Feb 7
A Mosaic is a picture made from lots of small tiles. Mosaics were a popular form of artwork created by the Romans. They used tiny tiles made out of coloured stones or glass called “tesserae”. The tiles were stuck down using a type of concrete.
A normal size Roman Mosaic was approximately 6 metres by 8 metres wide and could feature more than half a million tesserae tiles. Some Mosaics covered the top of furniture like tables or were used on walls. But most Mosaics were used to cover the entire floor of a room. In fact they were made to be walked on – the tiny tiles created a tough, hard-wearing surface, perfect for enduring the impact of many Roman sandals. That’s why there’s still so many of them that have survived until today!
Having a Mosaic was a status symbol in Roman times. Some Mosaics could be purchased “off the shelf” as a standard design like a piece of artwork in a gallery. But the richest Roman people could afford to pay for expensive personalised designs created especially for their villa homes.
Although we think of Roman Mosaics as a piece of art, that’s not always how they were used in the time of the Romans. The people who made Mosaics weren’t considered to be artists, they were craftsmen. They wouldn’t sign their Mosaics like an artist would sign their work.
Instead, to the Romans, Mosaics had many practical uses. Mosaics in Pompeii were used to warn guests about their pets, with the words “beware of the dog” written in Latin! The stone tiles would keep the rooms of villa homes cool, as well as reflecting sunlight to make the room seem brighter. The Romans would never paint their tiles. Instead they always used coloured stones or glass so the colour wouldn’t wear away over time when people walked all over it. They were waterproof and could be cleaned easily.
Roman Mosaics showed images from history, myths and everyday life. Popular themes include animals, beasts or heroes from Roman myths and legends, gladiator fights, hunting scenes, important people or just pretty patterns.
You can find a selection of photos of real Roman Mosaics, plus instructions on how to make your own Roman Mosaics below:
Create your own Roman Mosaic with these fun craft activities for kids:
Cut & Stick Mosaic (great for all ages):
You Will Need:
An Assortment of Coloured Paper
Scissors (Always get an adult to help you when using scissors)
A4 White Card
Step 1 – Cut Out Coloured Squares:
Grab your coloured paper and use your scissors to cut it up into different sized squares. (Grown-ups – for really young children, cut out the paper for them and have them start the craft at Step 2.)
Tip: To help keep the edges of the squares straight, fold your sheet of paper in half and cut along the fold. Take one of the sections you have just cut and fold it in half again before cutting along the fold. Repeat this until you have squares of a size that you are happy with. The smaller the squares, the more detail you can add to your design.
Tip: To speed up this process, you could layer 2 or 3 sheets of paper on top of each other and cut through all of them at once.
Step 2 – Draw Your Design:
Draw a design on your A4 white card with your pencil. This could be your favourite animal, an object or even a pattern. Make sure you draw your design nice and big on the paper so that you can fill it with your coloured squares.
Step 3 – Fill It With Colour:
“Colour in” your design using your different coloured squares of paper. Stick the squares down with your glue stick. Don’t forget you can colour around the outside of your design too – can you fill the whole piece of card with colour?
Tip: For more skilful crafters, try leaving a small gap between each square of coloured paper to make it look more like a mosaic.
Tip: You can fold over the edges or corners of your squares to change their shape. This will help them to fit into gaps on your design.
Tip: You can experiment with different colours to add detail. More advanced crafters might try to add highlight and shadow to their designs by using different shades of colour.
Draw and Colour Mosaic:
You Will Need:
A4 White Card
Step 1 – Draw A Border:
Use your pencil and ruler to mark out and draw a border around your A4 white card. We drew ours 1cm thick and 1cm from the edge of the card.
Step 2 – Draw A Rough Design:
Use your pencil to draw a rough design onto your paper. This will be a basic guide to add your mosaic pattern to, so it shouldn’t be too detailed.
Tip: Keep your pencil strokes very light so they don’t show through when the design is finished.
Step 3 – Draw Mosaic Squares:
Choose a small section of your design to start with. Use your pencil to draw small squares onto this section of your design, following the lines of your rough drawing from earlier.
Tip: Do not draw mosaic squares on your entire design yet! Draw one section then move onto Step 4. Otherwise your whole piece of card will be covered in squares and you won’t be able to see your rough design anymore to know which bit was which!
Tip: The smaller your squares are, the more detailed your design will be.
Step 4 – Colour Your Mosaic Squares:
Use your coloured crayons to colour in the squares on your small section of design.
Tip: You can combine colours, use different shades of colour or alter your colouring pressure to get different colour effects in your squares. Experiment to see what you can create.
Tip: Use different colours to add details. You could use darker colours at the edges of an important area, such as an object or animal, to make it stand out from the background.
Step 5 – Repeat:
Repeat Step 3 and Step 4 again. Choose a section of your design and draw mosaic squares, then add colour with your crayons. Repeat this until you have finished your entire design.
Step 6 – Add a Mosaic Border:
To finish off your mosaic, add squares to your border and colour them in using your crayons.
Is your class loving learning about the Romans? Then you'll definitely want to bring Imagining History's 'Roman Britain: A Time Travel Tour' workshop to your school!