This lesson is adapted from a lesson in "Dynamic Art Projects for Kids" by Denise Logan. It's a great book filled with exciting and doable lessons for elementary kids. I have used many and reserve the Tribal Mask project for my upper grade students. Fourth grade students loved this lesson and I'm sure older children would as well. Tip: The lesson as I've done here, might not be as successful for younger kids.
To begin with, I photocopy the handout Denise includes in her book. Tip: Anytime you can pass around a handout, it makes the project all the more accessible. Just make sure the handout has several ideas, or sketches. You don't want to limit the imagination of the kids.
With a marker, begin drawing a tribal mask. Try not to start with a pencil. It'll take forever especially with fourth grade perfectionists! After drawing the basic shapes, the mask should look like a coloring book drawing. Black and white with lots of shapes.
Next color in smaller sections, adding details to enhance the mask. I use Crayola markers and hand out a tray to each table to share.
For the large areas, we use tissue paper and liquid starch. Place a piece of tissue paper over a shape in the mask (horns, mouth, head piece, etc.) and trace the shape with a pencil. Then cut out tissue paper. This is tricky so make sure to tell the kids that it's okay to get frustrated! Using liquid starch, brush the liquid onto the shape on the white paper then set the cut-out tissue paper on top. The tissue paper should lie nice and flat but if it doesn't, run the brush over it to smooth any wrinkles away.
To add decorative details around the perimeter of the paper, I place a tray of Styrofoam on everyone's table. I pre-cut the Styrofoam into 2" squares. Then, using wooden dowels or dull pencils, draw motifs or designs into the foam. Brush with black tempera paint and place stamp along the border of the paper.
For a finishing touch, place a tray of white and black beans and feathers on the tables. If they chose to, the kids can add these details using regular school glue.
Overall, this lesson took us four 45-minute class times to finish.
The artwork on this post is from the 4th grade classes at Brandon School