Paper Mosaic


This was a project my 5th graders did while learning about warm and cool colors, radial balance, and repetition.


  • 9″x9″ paper (we used manila paper, because I had a lot on hand)
  • Warn and cool color construction paper cut into 1/2″ squares
  • Pencils
  • Erasers
  • Compass
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Glue


  1. First, you need to find the middle of your paper.  Very lightly, use your ruler to draw a diagonal line going from two opposite corners of your paper.  Repeat with the other two corners so that you have a lightly drawn “x”.  The middle of your paper is where the two lines intersect.  Make a darken spot at the intersection and carefully erase the rest of your lines.
  2. Now we need to lightly draw four circles increasing in size.  We set our compass at 2cm, 4cm, 7cm, and 9.5cm.  Make sure your compass is placed on the dark spot in the middle of your paper when drawing your circles.
  3. Decide if you would like to use warm colors (yellow, orange, red) or cool colors (green, blue, and purple).  Using the 1/2″ squares only from your color scheme, create an interesting pattern by alternating colors and gluing them into a radial design on your sheet of paper.  Start in the middle and work your way out.  The four circles drawn are more like guidelines.  You can either glue your squares directly on the lines or right next to the lines.  Whichever decision you choose, stay consistent so that your design maintains a nice radial balance.  (A student one year really wanted to cut some of his squares to make triangles.  It ended up looking great, so I usually mention that to the class as another option.)
  4. Continue this process until you can no longer make complete circles.  Then add a nice border going around the edge your paper.
  5. After the projects are completely dry, carefully erase any lines still showing.

*  The mosaic up above was laminated for a county art show so it wouldn’t get ruined.

Students seem to like this project, but it is a little tedious.  The first time I ever taught it, the students were required to cut their own 1/2″ square pieces of paper.  This made the project take forever to complete and the majority of the students got tired of it quickly.  So, over the next summer vacation, I brought my paper cutter home and cut up the squares myself.  I divided the scraps into two bins, dividing them up by warm and cool colors.  This really sped up the project and made it more enjoyable for the kids.

Have fun!


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