Man has mastered the use of many substances. One of the most useful substances mastered since the beginning of time is clay. This malleable substance is easily shaped into a wide variety of shapes and, when heated, dries to form solid and reliable objects like cups and bowls. One fun use for clay in your classroom is to allow your children to make safe and fun clay masks.
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One simple mask that a child can make is a mask of their own face. They can then colour it different colours and make it look more colourful than their normal face. This type of mask is very simple to make. Start with a very simple recipe. Find some white clay and purified water. Mix these ingredients together on a 1-to-1 basis, meaning 1 tbsp of white clay for every 1 tsp of purified water. After it has thickened in your bowl, spread a thick layer on your face. Fit it to the contours of your face. Carefully remove it once it has dried enough to keep its form. Use a picture of yourself or a mirror to fashion two eyes, a nose and a mouth that resemble your own. Once it has dried all the way, colour the mask. Hold it up to your face to create an eerie effect on others.
One of the most common types of clay mask still made is the African mask. Different tribes in Africa use different types of masks for different rituals and out of different types of clay. Make some simple African masks with your students. Bring some wet clay to your class. This clay can come from a supply store or can be created on your own using the recipe mentioned in the first section. Show your students pictures of African masks and let them pick the type of mask they want to replicate. They can also make an African mask of their own design as long as it looks authentic enough. Give them at least one class period to finish this project. You may need at least two to finish it. Once they are crafted, let your students colour them and hang them on the wall to show them off.
Growing up, most children have a hero of some kind. Some have sports heroes, like Michael Jordan, while others have intellectual heroes, like Albert Einstein. These heroes inspire children to aspire to be something greater. Let them celebrate their heroes with hero masks. Get some clay either bought from the store or using the recipe in the first section. Let your children pick out a hero and find a picture of that hero for them to use in making their mask. Carefully fit wet clay to their face so the mask will fit their face. While the clay is still mouldable, they should use their picture to fashion likenesses of their heroes face. This should include two eyes, a nose, a mouth, ears and hair. Let the clay harden, and then let them colour the mask to look like their hero. Now they can feel like they are living in their hero's shoes when they wear their mask.
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