It is important for kids to learn about different cultures and to experience aspects of those cultures that are different from their own. Kids love to see original Native American masks, and there are ways they can make their own. Whether they're in preschool or high school, making Native American masks can engage their creativity.
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Paper Plate Mask
One of the simplest masks to make involves using a paper plate. This mask is perfect for preschoolers or other young children, as it involves little more than painting, cutting and gluing. Children can cut off two-thirds of the plate's rim, to be used as "horns." They can then paint the back of the plate in the colours of their choice, with the remaining rim forming the top of the mask.
Cut up egg cartons for children to use as eyes, and offer plenty of other applicable art supplies (beads, yarn, feathers, sequins) to decorate the rest of the mask. Children can then glue horns to the top of the mask and a Popsicle stick to the bottom as a handle.
'Authentic' Clay Mask
Have children examine the masks at the site in the Resources section below. Each child should choose one mask and attempt to reconstruct it as closely as possible using modelling clay and tools, as well as paint and small paintbrushes. Although these masks will not be wearable, they will look like authentic Native American masks.
Alternatively, children can search for rocks that most closely resemble the mask that they chose, and then paint the rock to mimic the design on the mask. These Native American "masks" make perfect paperweights.
Paper Mache Mask
Students can cut out part of a gallon milk carton to make a paper mache Native American mask. To do this, they cover the piece of carton with newspaper strips dipped into paper mache paste (a mixture of flour and water) until it takes on the form that they would like. They can then finish it off with an additional layer of brown paper towels dipped into paper mache paste to make the surface one colour. After this dries, they can decorate the mask, painting it if they desire. Make sure that they have plenty of art supplies, including feathers, beads, buttons, seashells or scraps of cloth, to complete their masks.
Add a cultural element to this project by having students each research a different region or Native American nation to create masks that reflect those societies and their artwork and traditions.
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