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Arts & Activities - Page 31
M ask making is ancient. The oldest recorded mask, a 9,000-yearold cloth and painted fragment, was found in a cave in Israel. Masks are universal. It is difficult to imagine a culture in which masks are not part of their heritage. Masks can be art. Although a mask’s function may not be known, its aesthetics can be admired. When teaching mask making, in order to broaden students’ concept of masks beyond Halloween, I display posters of world masks and show some of the masks I’ve collected during my travels. I share some of the masks’ various functions, such as to ascend into the spiritual realm, to be worn in a play or even as part of funerar y burial rites. I end the presentation by showing pictures of Batman and Spiderman and ask why these superheroes wear masks, leading to a lively discussion that bridges the idea of masks into the students’ contemporar y world. The following project began with fifth-graders who made a mask based on an animal they were researching, and finished with kindergarteners making red-painted bobcat masks, our school’s mascot and school colors. Although 5and 6-year-olds seem too young for plaster gauze mask making, the kindergarten teacher persisted when she saw some of the fifth-graders wearing their masks. The mask making takes three class sessions. Students are grouped in pairs. LEARNING OBJECTIVES elementary students will . • learn that masks have a purpose. • learn to work as a team. • use their imagination and skill to construct a mask based on their particular needs. MATERIALS • • • • • • • • • • • • • • this fifth-grader wore her leopard mask while on safety patrol. Cat mask. > They will cover each other’s face with the petroleum jelly and then plaster gauze. Note: It is not unusual that some students may be reluctant to have petroleum jelly and wet plaster gauze put on their face. Although they hopefully will get caught up in the excitement of the lesson and give the OK, it is a good idea to have a paper mask project they can work on independently if they choose. Day 1 The gauze material comes in rolls and needs to be cut into strips measuring approximately 3" x 2". Each mask will require 30 to 50 strips. I encourage students to only make a half mask, which is lighter and easier to wear than a full mask. Cut the gauze over newspaper because it creates dust. Then, ask students to see MASK plaster gauze materials (i buy plast’r Craft Art in the 20 lb. carton, enough to last me a couple of years) petroleum jelly plastic containers for water Smocks or towels paper towels or soft towels for cleanup Mirrors (optional) Newspapers Thin cardboard, i.e. cereal box cardboard White glue Masking tape Scissors Tempera or acrylic paint Brushes 8-inch-wide elastic bands > on page 33 three layers of the wet gauze are applied to the face. a smock or towel around the neck keeps water from trickling down. the student holds a mirror to watch the process and a paper towel to catch drips. Fifth-grader wearing a rabbit mask. An Exercise in Imagination and Skill may 2013 by Craig Hinshaw www.ar tsandactivities.com x 80 years • 31