Masking Mirrors


Social Studies and Art

  • 30-45 Minutes


  • Websites linked in the lesson
  • Acrylic paint, markers, paper, paintbrushes and pencils
  • mask forms, glue, water and newspaper.
  • chart paper or chart board.
  • computer, projector, speakers

Lesson Overview:

Provide students with a variety of examples of masks from cultures around the world. Ask students to chart similarities and differences in techniques used in the masks, as well as construction (paint, paper mache, paper, clay, etc).

Ask students about the use of masks in our own culture – when do we see them and for what purpose? Engage in a discussion about the historical significance of masks using this infographic. At the end of October, we see many masks (Halloween), and other cultures celebrate this day as well. Explore Dia de los Muertos celebrations and compare/contrast with our own Halloween traditions. Use this site for reference. Why are masks a significant part of these celebrations (mirrors of life and death, symmetry between both sides, honoring and memorializing our ancestors, transformation, etc).


Step 1: Ask students to think about an element or symbol that has two sides. For example, water can be both cleansing and destructive. Students can research elements and symbols that have historical significance to their own ancestry

Step 2:Using their chosen symbol or element, create a sketch of a mask that would communicate their message of “two sides of the same element”. Then, follow the directions found here for creating a paper mache mask.


Connective Rubric

Create a rubric that assesses the students’ use of historical context and culture to create a mask which displays an element of significance to their own ancestry. Include the following categories in your rubric: use of symmetry, use of artistic choice in line, texture and color, and demonstration of historical significance through a written statement.