Thursday, 15 July 2010

Gaudi's Mosaics

In June I blogged about a sequence of lessons called "Mi bandera".  With my KS2 classes I have just finished the next part of this unit dealing with shapes and colours.

Last summer I went on a mini-break to Barcelona, and was struck by all the different examples of "shapes making shapes" in the city.  Lots of square panels making up the front of a building, seven circular panels of glass arranged to make a big circular window, and, of course Gaudi's mosaics.  I took lots of photos and started to formulate an idea.

The difficult thing proved to be fitting it in at such a time that it didn't seem contrived in our sequence of learning.  It did, however, fit perfectly after the flag lessons.

We started off looking at a map of the world to find Spain (and had some useful discussions about how come the countries in South America speak Spanish when they are so far from Spain), and then we looked at a map of Spain to find Barcelona.  This in turn led to some interesting discussions about the regions of Spain, Cataluña in particular, and we compared and contrasted the numbers 1-10 in Catalan, Spanish and French.

We then focussed on Barcelona specifically, and looked at the examples of shapes making shapes.  We talked about Gaudi, his buildings and his mosaics.  We then looked at these mosaics from Parc Güell:

We found out that Gaudi used unusual materials in these mosaics, like glass bottles, dinner plates and china dolls.  We set about creating mosaic suns of our own, using unusual shapes to echo Gaudi's unusual materials.  I made an example to show the children, photographing it at various stages of its creation so show them how to build up their mosaic.
If you would like to see some of the children's finished mosaics, there is a video montage on my school blog.

So why did I do this?


  • Cross-curricular art

  • Intercultural understanding (Spanish-speaking world, Spain, Barcelona)
But also:

  • I wanted them to write about the mosaic afterwards, using the same format as we used to describe the flags.  I wanted them to use the dictionary to find the words for the shapes they had used and to make these nouns plural as necessary, and to agree the colours as necessary.  It was bringing together a lot of the different threads of our work since January.
What would I do differently next time?

  • Start it earlier in the year - we haven't been able to progress to the writing stage due to it being the end of term!

  • It's interesting that the best artists aren't necessarily the best mosaic makers.  I'd set up a Smartboard activity or a group cut'n'stick activity to practise jigsaw-ing shapes into another shape, to enable more of the children to produce a more authentic-looking mosaic.

  • Find stickier gummed paper!  And get more of it, as we ran out of certain colours very quickly.
All in all, I am very happy with the results, particularly with how well Y3 responded to it (it's them you can see working in the photos on the video).  It made my day yesterday to follow one of my Y3s out of school and to watch him excitedly show his dad the mosaic he had made and explain how and why he had made it.  It's given me the courage to find more ways of "thinking outside the box" and to endeavour to teach Spanish in its broader context a lot more.

1 comment:

  1. I love the man hole covers and teselated paving stones in central Barcelona; I should addd a pic.