Mosaic Kits For Children Review
The Mosaic Mad Romans sell a series of mosaic kits for children, as well as running Roman themed events. The mosaic kits are divided into two ranges. Roman, and Modern. With the modern range you can make a mini Stonehenge, a church window, medieval coin coaster or more modern designs like a rainbow mirror or an England shield.
However, it was the Roman range that I was most interested in. I've always had a fascination with the Romans, and in particular the influence the Empire had on Britain. It was the Roman Coin Mosaic Coaster kit that caught my eye. A small project that might be quite doable for a five year old, and it came with a Roman coin to add that little bit of extra interest to the coaster. A great way, I thought, to introduce a small boy to that period of history.
Plus, my son is tile mad. I don't know why, but it is impossible for him to walk past a Topps Tiles without going in to examine every single tile in the store. How, I thought, would he react to a mosaic?
Really a bit too well as it turned out. The kit arrived, and it was smaller than I expected. I don't know why I thought there would be more to it, given that I knew it was a coaster! The kit includes 32 marble tiles, glue, a stick, a coin, the coaster and Roman 'dust'. It does cost £6, so I thought, as I opened the package that it had better be darn good quality.
And it was. The tiny tile squares are quite thick, and made of good quality materials. My son immediately took a shine to these and I had to wait until he'd spent a little while playing a game that seemed to entail putting them in a small pile, then into another small pile on the other side of the table. When I could tear him away from the tiles, I attempted to read him through the instructions. I showed him the picture that came with the tiles, and did my best to explain what needed to be done but he was simply beside himself with excitement and wouldn't listen.
Making A Mosaic
First we laid a large sheet of paper down on the table. Now, you are supposed to draw a square and use it to plan out your design, but my son was too impatient for that. Instead it was straight on with the glue onto the supplied board. This applies thickly and surprisingly evenly with very little effort. I was hugely surprised here as I thought that my son would simply make a big mess with it but that wasn't the case. He did get some on his hands but this peeled off easily when it dried.
Next he quite gleefully pushed the coin in. I gently moved this to the centre for him, which did not go down particularly well. After that I let him put the tiles on, which as you can see from the photos, were placed in a variety of positions. With no real attention paid to where the colours went! By this stage he'd understood that the sand was sprinkled on at the end and just wanted to get to that part of the proceedings.
I have to say that things did get quite messy by that point. I think I'll be hoovering up little grains of black sand for some time to come. But finally it was done, and we placed it on the window ledge to dry.
The 'sand', or dust as the site calls it, is coarse, quite large sized grains that you sprinkle onto the glue or grouting, to give it that authentic Roman look. I'm not quite sure why this is particularly Roman - there wasn't any information in the enclosed pamphlet.
The instructions said to leave it for 30 minutes, before shaking off the dust or sand, and voila! You have a coaster. In reality it actually took about three hours before it was solid. After 30 minutes the glue was still quite soft, and it was easy to move the tiles around.
Once it had gone hard however, it really did go very hard indeed. My son was hugely proud of his work. Unfortunately at that moment he finally took a proper look at the picture supplied with the kit, and wailed that his didn't look like that.
Well no it doesn't but you see that's why we read instructions ... I think that was more of the lesson learned than any sort of connection with Roman history.
This was a fun wee project to occupy a rainy summer holiday morning. I'm still not entirely convinced of its value given how much the kit costs, but I can't deny the high quality of the materials. And this shows in the end product, which doesn't look at all like a child's version of an adult item, as you normally get with child-oriented craft kits. I have to say that this is what I liked the most about it, that there's no 'dumbing down' for the child. They've put in the same amount of effort as an adult, they should get the same result!
As a lesson in history I think it did make a big difference. For a small child it is really hard to look at a mosaic and understand what it is. But now that he's made one up, my son has a new appreciation of the art form. And when he is shown one, like the ones lining the staircase at the British Museum, he gets quite excited and pays more attention than he would have done before. I think I will definitely consider buying some of the other kits, but perhaps for Christmas or birthday!
TOPICS: Birthday Party Ideas