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Moroccan Mosaic

Explore the ancient artwork of Moroccan culture! Design a mosaic, called a zillij, full of brightly colored, recycled Model Magic tiles!

  • Grade 4
    Grade 5
    Grade 6
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Mosaic art is created by arranging various colors of tiles, made from stone, clay, or glass, to form a picture. This form of artwork has been around for centuries, and can be found in almost every culture. Moroccan mosaics are unique in that they are primarily geometrical, reflecting intricate designs and patterns. This decorative style is called "zillij" and uses specially shaped tiles that fit tightly together to create the mosaic designs.
    2. Students research this art form and find some examples of zillij mosaic art. Where were these mosaics displayed? How are they used today? Organize text and electronic resources for students to use while researching. Provide a time for children to share their learning with classmates.
    3. Inform students, working in teams of two, that they will be creating tiles for a class mosaic. Use leftover Crayola Model Magic® from other projects to create tiles. Simply cut extra pieces of Model Magic into smaller pieces of various sizes. If leftover Model Magic is still wet, lay flat to dry out before storing with the other tiles to prevent sticking. Model Magic that has been swirled or blended together will make great tiles, too!
    4. Each team will design a zillij after sketching their design on paper with Crayola Color Sticks or Crayola Crayons. They may want to use a ruler to measure out geometric shapes and patterns.
    5. Press out a sheet of fresh Model Magic to use as the backing for the tiles. Try to make it as flat as possible and no thicker than a pencil.
    6. Using sketch as a guide, students lay out the Model Magic tiles to create the original zillij. Model Magic that is fresh from the pack will stick to itself. Dried pieces can be glued together with Crayola No-Run School Glue. Leave a tiny amount of space between each tile. Watch as the colors, shapes, and patterns come together to form an interesting design!
    7. Lay the zillij flat and allow glue to air-dry.
    8. While mosaics are drying, members of teams collaborate to write a summary paragraph of their learning about zillij mosaics. ENcourage students to include how they incorporated this learning into the creation of their original mosaics.
  • Standards

    LA: Read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the grade level text complexity band independently and proficiently.

    LA: Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.

    LA: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

    LA: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.

    MATH: Draw points, lines, line segments, rays, angles (right, acute, obtuse), and perpendicular and parallel lines. Identify these in two-dimensional figures.

    SS: Describe ways in which language, stories, folktales, music, and artistic creations serve as expressions of culture and influence behavior of people living in a particular culture.

    SS: Use appropriate resources, data sources, and geographic tools to generate, manipulate, and interpret information.

    VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of experiences and ideas.

    VA: Select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of ideas.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: The Butter Man by Elizabeth Alalou & Ali Alalou; Countries Around the World: Morocco by Nick Hunter; Zillij: The Art of Moroccan Ceramics by John Hedgecoe

    Students create window hangings. Use small pieces of colored tissue paper as tiles. Glue onto white tissue paper to create a mosaic; hang from a wooden dowel stick. The glue will make the white tissue paper dry clear so that only colors will show through. Hang in a classroom window to display artwork.

    Students research the Moroccan culture and creation of zillij mosaic art. How were these art pieces created? Where were they displayed? How are they used today? Are zillij mosaics still created in Morocco today? Students organize their research into an electronic format to share with classmates.

    Have students work collaboratively to create a mosaic to cover an entire wall or hallway. How can their school be represented in a mosaic?

    Organize student work in a display in the classroom. Have students work in teams of two or small groups to view and analyze each other's work. Discuss the various geometric patterns created in the artwork. How many of the design are symmetrical? Can you find patterns in each zillij?


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