Whether required for a school project or as a rainy-day activity, mask-making is craft in which children of almost any age can participate. Using supplies commonly found at home or that are readily available at a craft store, creating animal masks can be inexpensive and fun. Making animal masks is a hands-on activity and a creative way for children learn about the animals they see in books, magazines or on television.
Choose your animal thoughtfully. Some animals may require more intricate detail than others. If a child is creating the mask or helping an adult to make the mask, consider his age and crafting ability before deciding on an animal. A pig, bunny, dog and cat are relatively simple while a lion, tiger or dragon mask may require more dexterity.
Cut holes for the eyes. Hold the paper plate in front of the child's face and carefully use a pencil to mark a light dot where his eyes are. Cut out the two small circles in the plate with scissors.
Paint the plate. For a realistic look, use colours as close as possible to those of the living animal. Since paper plates have a slight curvature to them, the back or bottom of the plate should be used to make the animal mask. This will allow for a more comfortable and natural fit.
Add a nose, ears and mouth. Paint a nose and mouth on the face of the mask or glue ears and facial features cut from construction paper to the plate.
Add distinguishing animal details. Use black paint, black pom poms or small pieces of black felt for a leopard's spots. Cut black felt into stripes and glue to an orange mask to create a tiger. Cut yarn into 2- to 3-inch pieces, attaching it to the perimeter of a mask, to create a lion's mane. Attach pipe cleaners near the nose to emulate an animal's whiskers.
Attach the elastic. Hold the plate mask to the child's face to estimate how much elastic is necessary. Use a hole punch to create two holes in the mask just above where it hits the child's ears. String the elastic through one hole and secure with a knot. Place the mask on the child's face before securing the second knot to ensure the elastic is not too long.
Foam craft pieces may be used in place of a white paper plate. Pom poms, buttons or stickers may also be used as noses. Masks may be glued to a wooden craft stick instead of using elastic. For a more open mask, cut the bottom of the paper plate off just below the nose before painting begins.