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Aztec Mosaic Mask

Dig deep into an ancient Mexican culture! Recreate colors reminiscent of traditional turquoise and coral found on these mosaic masks!

  • Grade 3
    Grade 4
    Grade 5
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Spanish explorers encountered several distinct civilizations, including the famous Aztecs from Mesoamerica. From the 14th through 16th centuries, Aztecs were a wandering tribe of people before they settled in the Valley of Mexico where they founded Tenochtitlan—known today as Mexico City. Artifacts found from these cultures include fabulous jewelry, pottery, tools, and ceremonial items including masks.
    2. Aztecs created masks to wear in religious ceremonies and in death. Masks were placed over a mummified head to protect the deceased from dangers in the afterlife. Have students research the Aztec culture and arts. Look at authentic images for inspiration before designing a replica mask.
    3. Use a paper plate as an armature on which to build the mask. Trim and bend it into shape. Add dimensional effects for the forehead, nose, and mouth. Indent sections for eyes. Cover the work area with recycled newspaper. Use a dark color of Crayola Tempera Paint to cover the base of the mask. Air-dry the paint.
    4. Mix several colors of Crayola Model Magic® to make tints, shades, and tones similar to native turquoise and coral used in Aztec masks. Leave some areas where the colors are not completely blended for a marble effect. Roll out slabs on wax paper to dry overnight. Model Magic dries to the touch overnight.
    5. Cut Model Magic slabs into small pieces (tesserae), mostly squares. While the Model Magic is still pliable, press and glue the colored tesserae onto the mask base. Leave small spaces between each piece that could be "grouted" for a typical mosaic look. Because the real masks are so old, leave some areas of the mask blank, as if the pieces were lost over time. Air-dry the masks for 2 days.
    6. Display the masks, accompanied by a map and other information to share about these "ARTifacts."
  • Standards

    LA: Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.

    LA: Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.

    LA: Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

    SCI: Ask questions about the natural and human-built worlds.

    SS: Examine the interaction of human beings and their physical environment.

    SS: Explore and describe similarities and differences in the ways groups, societies, and cultures address similar human needs and concerns.

    SS: Use appropriate resources, data sources, and geographic tools.

    SS: Give examples that show how scarcity and choice govern our economic decisions.

    VA: Use art materials and tools in a safe and responsible manner.

    VA: Use visual structures of art to communicate ideas.

    VA: Select and use subject matter, symbols, and ideas to communicate meaning.

    VA: Identify connections between the visual arts and other disciplines in the curriculum.

  • Adaptations

    Students research Tenochtitlan, now Mexico City. What was its importance in Aztec culture?

    How do Aztec masks help modern people to learn about the ancient Aztec society? Cite several examples in your response. Find a photo or graphic of each example to help illustrate your response. Organize your responses into an electronic presentation.

    Compare and contrast the Aztec culture to that of another Indian group, such as the Mayans. Organize your research into an electronic presentation for peers to view.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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