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Super Power-Boosting Masks

Create Native American-style masks. Those who wear them were thought to be granted super powers! Imagine what powers your mask might have.

  • Grade 4
    Grade 5
    Grade 6
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Invite students to research the types of masks worn by various Native American tribes, both past and present. Compare masks from North, Central, and South American cultures. For what are the masks used? How do the forms and colors on the mask reflect these uses? Some masks were believed to give their wearers extra powers. Challenge students to think of super powers they would like to possess! Imagine how those powers might be reflected in the shape and colors of a mask.
    2. In preparation for creating masks, students cover their work space with recycled newspaper. Provide each child with a clean, dry paper plate for sculpting a mask. Crumpled newspaper can be used to create an armature on which to shape the sculpture. Use masking tape to hold the paper in the form desired.
    3. Suggest students press out a slab of Crayola Air-Dry Clay and place it on the armature. Mold a mask that could contain the powers identified. Will the mask be in the shape of a face, animal, or an imaginary creature?
    4. Encourage children to create forms on the mask that represent the powers it holds. For example, lightning bolt lips could represent a very fast talker! Use craft sticks or other modeling tools to mold, cut, and impress detailed designs on masks. Add thin, twisted rolls of clay for hair, beards, or other decorations.
    5. While it is still wet, students lightly paint masks with Portfolio® Series Watercolors. Advise students to choose colors that will enhance mask powers, too. For example, if you want to be a better swimmer, you might paint your mask blue. Air-dry masks for at least 3 days.
    6. Add a coat of one or more Crayola Tempera Mixing Mediums for amazing surface effects to match the mask’s powers. Choose from Texture It!, Pearl It!, and/or Glitter It! Air-dry your mask before displaying it.
  • Standards

    LA: Read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the grade level text complexity band independently and proficiently.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 3 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    LA: Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.

    LA: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.

    SS: Describe ways in which language, stories, folktales, music, and artistic creations serve as expressions of culture and influence behavior of people living in a particular culture.

    SS: Identify and use various sources for reconstructing the past, such as documents, letters, diaries, maps, textbooks, photos, and others.

    VA: Select media, techniques, an processes; analyze what makes them effective or not effective in communicating ideas; and reflect upon the effectiveness of choices.

    VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of experiences and ideas.

    VA: Use subjects, themes, and symbols that demonstrate knowledge of contexts, values, and aesthetics that communicate intended meaning in artworks.

    VA: Describe and place a variety of art objects in historical and cultural contexts.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: Spirit Faces: Contemporary Masks of the Northwest Coast by Gary Wyatt; American Indian Horse Masks by Nick Martin, Jody Martin & Winfield Coleman

    Students groups investigate masks from other cultures such as African and Japanese cultures. Encourage groups to compare and contrast the appearances, functions, and materials used to create these pieces of artworks.

    Students groups compose original skits with main characters that use the super powers depicted on their masks. Students prepare to present their skits to classmates. If possible, arrange a time when students can also present to younger classes.


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