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LTC 8900: Artistic Thinking: Multimedia Applications for Teaching Art



Lesson Plan: Paper Mache Masks: “ A Jazzy Renaissance” Mardi Gras Ready " A Cultural Experience for the 21st Century


Unit Plan: A Jazzy Renaissance

Saint Joseph Catholic School, Jefferson City, Missouri
Teacher: Mr. Essex Garner
Cooperating Teacher: Mrs. Suzy Weber

Art Strands: Making Art, Art History, Art Criticism,
                    and Diversity.
Develop Topographical Map
                    Reading skills Connect 19th & 20th Century Social
                    Issues with the 21st Century Classroom

Grade levels: 6 and Up
Age levels: 12 and Up

     The Big Idea: This is the fourth lesson of four within the "Jazzy Renaissance" unit of instruction. Class time allotted for this lesson is four class periods.




Eighth, Grade student mask. Saint Joseph Elementary School in Jefferson City, Missouri.


     Conceptual Structure: Making a mask is one way of not only having but it’s a great way to learn three-dimensional sculpting and painting techniques. Not only will we learn about the different ritualistic masks of many cultures but the materials and purposes for which many of them are used. While we research each culture and their different mask types let us, understand that we have more in common with “others” than we think. Also, lets realize that many of the customs in our present day society evolved from the very cultures we’re about to research. In ritual Indian ceremonial dance mask play and important part, and it has been that way since ancient times. The Hopi and other Pueblo Indians carve and paint wooden kachina masks for their traditional dances; the Iroquois create sacred "false face". Navajo and Apache make leather masks for dancing, and the Cherokee construct gourd masks for storytelling. In many parts of Latin America, masks are used to tell myths, legends, culture and the history of its people. In African tribes’ mask are believed to portray the faces of gods or spirits, and are often designed with animal or human features. Many customs and rituals of the African culture are passed down through story telling. These ritual practices like many other cultures are how they communicate their ancestral traditions to the next generation. All head and face decorations of African ritual mask falls into one of four categories: they either posses ancestral spirits, are mythological heroes, or a combination of ancestral, hero, and animal spirits. The ritual uses for these masks run from childbearing too a person’s rites of passage that typically involves some form of dance custom. African tribes use ritual dance ceremonies in many ways from: agricultural festivals, initiations, to increase ones wealth, money or property, or for fertility reasons.

       Introduction: Show your student’s different mask from the Cherokee, Hopi or other Pueblo Indians tribes, Latin American, and African masks. Any of these styles can be used to incorporate a Mardi Gras festive theme. Ensure your students understand that artistically, masks are among the most remarkable objects created by some of these civilizations. Ensure that your students are able to distinguish the differences between crafts and Fine Art. During this session, students will construct a mask as they begin exploring the imaginative power of this exciting art form. Use this lesson as a multicultural and historical learning opportunity to illustrate how many of these cultural rituals have deep ancestral importance and similarities.



Eighth, Grade student mask. Saint Joseph Elementary School in Jefferson City, Missouri.

Lesson Goals and Objectives:

- This lesson strengthens the student’s awareness in cultural issues that pertain to art and cultural appreciation, and explores a unique three-dimensional media. Develops the student’s social aesthetic qualities necessary for the understanding of other social groups in and outside of the North American continent. Connect 19th & 20th century artifacts and culture with the 21st century classroom.

- The students will demonstrate prior knowledge of lessons learned within the foundational elements of previous lessons.

- The students will examine the history of mask making and discuss whether they think there is room for artistic freedom especially when it comes to tribal art and customs.

- Students will also develop their topographical Map Reading skills through identifying historical markers from these mostly indigenous groups.

Lesson Concepts:

Try and make sure your students understand that these masks represent social statement. Ask students if they understand the cultural significance of the mask from each group. Have your students make present day connects with past events of some of these traditional ceremonies with something in their lives today. Discuss the stylized and idealized concepts of the traditional masks as you introduce this section. See if any of your students understand some of the bad things that have happened with most of these cultures when they were exposed to the western civilization. Have your students discuss their cultural heritage to see if they can make


Art making and instructional activities; (What to do):


- Talk about the different mask types and what kinds of mask are there? Why do people make masks? How do masks make us feel? (Happy, sad, scared, etc.).

- Show examples of different sorts of masks from different cultures. If possible, show your students real masks. If you do not have any masks, try to find pictures of masks in books, on posters etc.

- Prepare by having your students rip up newspaper strips of various lengths that they will later add to their poster paper when the time comes. Store these pieces of paper in a small box, one per student or pair of students if possible.

- Make sure that the tape covers all joining areas front and back.

- Mix up paper mache mix as directed on wallpaper paste box. Add a touch of white glue to make the mixture nice and sticky.

- Cover the mask with newspaper strips of various lengths that have been dipped in the paste. The paste should have the consistency of thick yogurt. The mask should have between four and six layers by the time it is completed.

- You might wish to have the students do the front one-week -- let it dry -- and the back the following week. It makes things a lot easier for them.

- Continue to cover the mask with newspaper strips of various lengths that have been dipped in the paste. The mask should have between four and six layers by the time it is completed.

- Review some of the geographical features for the particular civilization of tribes your students are concentrating within.


- Once the mask is completely dry (you may need to wait a few days to a week for this to be so), your students can decorate their masks with acrylic paint and then leave to dry for another week.

- Review more geographical features for the particular civilization and historical data pertaining to a particular group. Encourage map-reading skills, and inform them why those skills are necessary.



- On the final day, embellishments can be added with hot glue (supervision for the young ones) and a string can be attached so the mask can be worn.

- If there is time, students may want to plan a short play, and you are know ready for Mardi Gras. You might want to take pictures.

What you will need:

- Powdered wallpaper paste (in a box from the hardware store)
- White glue (just a little)
- Warm water
- Bucket for mixing and small containers (for paste at tables)
- Newspapers
- 2" wide masking tape (4-6 rolls)
- Thick Bristol board or poster paper (about 1/2 sheet per student)
- Scissors
- Acrylic paint (and containers to put it in)
- Brushes
- Containers for water
- Hot glue gun and glue sticks
- Found objects to glue onto mask (beads, fabric, string, plastic
   bubble wrap, etc.)
- Possibly a completed mask as an example
-Water and paper towels or old towels and rags - to clean up as
-Camera to take pictures.



Paper Mache Masks
Mardis Gras
Three-dimensional s Sculpting Ceremonial Dance
Ritual Hopi a Pueblo kachina
Iroquois "false face"
Navajo Apache
Cherokee Storytelling
Latin America
Myths, legends
African Tribes Gods or spirits
 Customs Rituals
Mythological Animal spirits Agricultural festivals Initiation
Indian and Islamic Art
Digital Media
Elements of Art




Useful Internet Links:

American Indian Art (2007). American Indian Masks. . Retrieved November 10, 2010 from

DLTK Growing Together (2010). DLTK's Crafts for Kids. Mardi Gras Masks. Retrieved
     November 11, 2010

Encyclopedia (2010). Arts & Entertainment: Harlem Renaissance. Assorted References; in African American literature:
     The Harlem Renaissance. Retrieved November 9, 2010,

Garner, E. (2010). Reading Writing and Arithmetic. Art and Developmental Lesson Plans. Retrieved April 2, 2007,

LaCalaca (2010). Antique and Folk Art of Latin America. Ceremonial Masks. Retrieved November 11, 2010

Mask and More Mask (2010). Learn About Masks of Africa. Retrieved November 11. 2010

McNulty, Ian (2010). History New First Notes: New Orleans and the Early Roots of Jazz. Retrieved
     October 29, 2010, from

New Orleans Website Directory (1999). New Orleans & Louisiana Bands & Musicians. Retrieved November 9, 2010, from

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