K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education


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Related topics


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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • learn how to mix mortar and sand topping.
  • learn how to make a composition.
  • make a flower composition using the colored glass pieces.
  • integrate art with science and learn to appreciate nature.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

2 weeks


  • pictures of various flowers
  • assorted pieces of colored glass
  • clear adhesive contact paper
  • ruler
  • pencil
  • scissors
  • Vaseline or vegetable oil (any lubricant)
  • gloves
  • large spatula
  • 2 buckets (one bucket for mortar; one for sand topping)
  • mortar (easy mix cement such as Quickrete)
  • sand topping
  • water
  • aluminum cake pans (square or round)
  • dishwashing scrub pad

Technology resources

computer with internet access (optional)


Week 1 - Day 1

  1. Learn basic skills of a composition.
  2. Look at various pictures of flowers.
  3. Sketch out and color possible flower compositions.
  4. Lubricate the inside of the aluminum pans.


Week 1 - Day 2

  1. Have students measure the inside of the aluminum pan or have them trace the bottom.
  2. Cut out the adhesive contact paper the size of the inside of the pan.
  3. Peel the paper off of the contact paper and lay the adhesive side up.
  4. Make a composition using the colored glass pieces and place the glass pieces on the adhesive part of the contact paper. (Tip: Place the prettiest side of the glass down).
  5. Place the contact paper (with the glass design facing up) inside the lubricated aluminum pan.

Week 1 - Day 3

  1. In one bucket, using gloves and a large spatula, mix mortar and water until an oatmeal texture is achieved.
  2. In the second bucket, using gloves and a large spatula, mix sand topping and water until an oatmeal texture is achieved.
  3. Carefully pour the mortar mixture, filling only half of the pan.
  4. Then, carefully pour the sand topping mixture, filling the rest of the pan.
  5. Let the stepping stones dry for at least 3 days.

Week 2 - Day 1

After at least 3 days of air drying, slowly remove stepping stone from the aluminum pan to avoid cracking the mortar. Use a dishwashing scrub pad to clean the dirt from the glass.

Week 2 - Day 2

Critique the stepping stones. Which composition works best? Which one has the best color scheme? Which one best utilizes space?

Week 2 - Day 3

Place the stepping stones outside (in the student garden or the school garden) after letting them dry a week. Observe which small animals are attracted.

Week 2 - Days 4 and 5

Have the students draw the small animals in their sketchbooks.


  • The students and teacher will view all stepping stones and critique them as a class. Talk about which compositions work the best, which have the best color scheme, and which one best uses space.
  • Let the stepping stones dry for at least 3 days before putting them outside. Then, as an independent study, observe the small animals that are attracted to the stepping stones and draw them in various aspects.

Supplemental information

Samples of finished stepping stones can be seen here:


It takes about a week to make the stepping stones--40 minutes every day for 5 days. This activity is really affordable to do and the students really enjoy it. The mortar and the sand topping are each about $4 per bag and combined make about 30 stepping stones. This is a great way to decorate the school garden and show off the children’s art.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Visual Arts Education (2010)
      • Grade 6

        • 6.V.3 Create art using a variety of tools, media, and processes, safely and appropriately. 6.V.3.1 Use tools and media appropriately to maintain a safe and orderly work space. 6.V.3.2 Create art using a variety of 2-D and 3-D media, including digital. 6.V.3.3...
      • Grade 7

        • 7.V.3 Create art using a variety of tools, media, and processes, safely and appropriately. 7.V.3.1 Apply safety knowledge to maintain a safe and orderly personal work space. 7.V.3.2 Compare media in order to choose the best option to create art. 7.V.3.3 Compare...
      • Grade 8

        • 8.V.3 Create art using a variety of tools, media, and processes, safely and appropriately. 8.V.3.1 Apply knowledge of safety and media to maintain and take care of the work space and art. 8.V.3.2 Use a variety of media to create art. 8.V.3.3 Evaluate techniques...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Visual Arts Education (2001)

Grade 6

  • Goal 1: The learner will develop critical and creative thinking skills and perceptual awareness necessary for understanding and producing art.
    • Objective 1.01: Plan and organize for creating art.
    • Objective 1.02: Explore strategies for imagining and implementing images.
  • Goal 2: The learner will develop skills necessary for understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes.
    • Objective 2.01: Recognize the unique properties of various media.
    • Objective 2.03: Differentiate among techniques and processes for working with each materials.
    • Objective 2.05: Use art materials and tools in a safe and responsible manner.
  • Goal 3: The learner will organize the components of a work into a cohesive whole through knowledge of organizational principles of design and art elements.
    • Objective 3.03: Recognize and discuss how diverse solutions are preferable to predetermined visual solutions.
  • Goal 6: The learner will reflect upon and assess the characteristics and merits of their work and the work of others.
    • Objective 6.05: Critique artwork through the use of: proper vocabulary, art elements and design principles, meaning, feeling, mood and ideas, oral and written expression.
  • Goal 7: The learner will perceive connections between visual arts and other disciplines.
    • Objective 7.01: Identify connections, similarities and differences between the visual arts and other disciplines.