Whether you need a craft for a zoo-themed party, an activity for a classroom study unit on animals or a way to keep your kids occupied on a rainy day, creating colourful and simple animal masks can be a great activity for kids. With basic supplies like paper plates, washable paints and markers, your kids can design masks to mimic animals ranging from domestic cats to the king of the beasts. Ensure the creations don't obscure the kids' eyesight so the little animals can run around the wilds of the living room without getting hurt.
Prepare the work area to minimise messes and simplify clean up. Cover the table with a plastic sheet or old newspapers to catch paint spills. Ensure the kids are wearing play clothes or have them wear adult-sized, old, white button-down shirts as smocks.
Use sharp scissors or a craft knife to cut two eye holes 2.5 cm (1 inch) apart near the centre of white paper plates before you give the plates to the kids. Make the holes large enough to ensure the plates don't obscure the kids' line of vision.
Let the kids use washable paint and paintbrushes to coat the plates in a shade that suits their animals of choice. Use additional paints or markers to add detail to the masks, such as black stripes for tigers, black noses for koalas or dark grey "wrinkles" for elephants.
Embellish the kids' animal mask crafts with dimensional accents affixed with white glue. Cut triangular "ears" out of cardstock that coordinate with each animal's main colour. Add feathers along the top of bird masks, ribbon "whiskers" to cat masks or glittering sequins to snake or fish masks.
Make a hole on each side of the painted animal mask with a handheld hole punch. Center the hole from top to bottom, and punch it one inch in from the side.
Cut a 30-cm (12-inch) piece of white or black elastic cord, push one end through a hole in the side of the mask and tie a double knot. Hold the mask against the child's face, and push the other end of the cord through the other hole in the mask and tie a double knot, ensuring that the cord holds the mask snugly against the child's face. Remove the mask and use scissors to snip off the excess cord.
Save time and paint by using coloured paper plates if you have them available. Yellow plates can become the base for giraffe or cheetah masks, for example, while grey plates can make elephant, squirrel or domestic cat masks. Other colours can include orange for tigers and cats, brown for monkeys and bears, or green for snakes, turtles and frogs.
Don't let the child run around wearing the handmade animal mask until you're sure his vision isn't hindered by the mask and that there aren't any protruding feather tips or embellishments that can poke or scratch his face.