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Level: Primary and up
Grades: K and up | Age: 5yrs and up | Written by: Andrea Mulder-Slater
[Andrea is one of the creators of KinderArt.]

Artistically, masks are among the most remarkable objects created by traditional civilizations. By following our Papier Mache Masks lesson plan, students will learn how to construct a mask as they begin exploring the imaginative power of this exciting art form.

What You Need:
What You Do:


  1. Talk about masks... what kinds of mask are there? why do people make masks? how do masks make us feel? (happy, sad, scared, etc.)
  2. Show examples of different sorts of masks from different cultures. If possible show real masks. If you do not have any masks, try to find pictures of masks in books, on posters etc.
  3. 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.
  4. Students first draw, and then cut simple shapes out of the poster paper. These shapes will be added to the masquerade mask using masking tape.
  5. Make sure that the tape covers all joining areas front and back.
  6. Mix up papier mache mix as directed on wallpaper paste box. Add a touch of white glue to make the mixture nice and sticky.
  7. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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.

  2. If there is time, students may want to plan a short play. You might want to take pictures.

An excellent resource for masks from all over.

Recommended Books/Products:


African Punch-Out Masks
by A. G. Smith, Josie Hazen
Kids can make their own masks.

The Art of African Masks
by Carol Finley
Exploring Cultural Traditions

The Cedar Plank Mask
by Nan McNutt
This best-selling series offers the only activity books that teach children about Northwest Coast Indians. Each book includes various games and activities, plus a teaching guide.

Masks Tell Stories
by Carol Gelber
Looking at masking traditions around the world, from ancient Greece to the present day, an illustrated guide explains the use and meaning of masks and shows their relation to the structure of society.

Press-Out Masks to Make and Decorate from Around the World
by Vivien Frank, Deborah Jaffe
Contains ten full-scale traditional ceremonial masks--inspired by such faraway places as Japan, New Guinea, and Bolivia--that can be removed, decorated, and worn with the included elastic bands.

by Alice K. Flanagan
A lively book that teaches children about masks of the world.

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