This is a mask lesson I developed, along with the Kindergarten teacher, when I taught at a school in the Dominican Republic a few years ago. Our school was having a Dominican cultural day in which all classes were involved in various activities. I decided to organize a simple carnival mask-making project, in which my Grade 9 students would help the lower elementary students create their own mask.
I had previously visited the famous carnival held in the town of La Vega in February. It was loud, colourful, exciting, and, did I mention loud? The masks are all very different depending on which region of the Dominican you're in. In La Vega, as you can see below, the masks are very devil-inspired and very frightening and ornate, with horns, teeth, feathers, rhinestones, etc. The elaborate costumes are sewn months in advance.
You can read more about Dominican masks and how they are made
(a complex papier mache method made in a mold) here.
Here are some masks that were being sold in the streets in Puerta Plata. Notice how different they are in comparison to the La Vega masks. They have a mouth like a duck bill and many spikes on their horns. Many of these are painted in the style of the Dominican flag and also splatter painted using glossy house paint which makes them quite durable and waterproof.
Hanging below them are vejigas which are these super hard balloon-shaped 'thing' that the performers swing around and whack spectators on the butt with- it is so painful and almost knocks the wind out of you!
Mini masks for sale at a souvenir shop.
So for the project that I had the students make, I wanted a really simple version- something that could be made in a 30-40 minute session. So we made simple flat masks out of coloured paper, markers and glitter. I had my Grade 9 student pre-cut all the masks beforehand as it can be tricky for younger students to cut out the eye-holes. Once the younger students came in, I paired them up with an older student, and then they decorated their mask with markers. Finally, the Grade 9 student helped them glitter the mask.
They were so happy to use glitter!!! And I love seeing my older student work with the younger ones- they are always very responsible and afterwards really appreciate our job as teachers having to guide and keep the little ones on task and listening.
These masks are not really made for wearing (too flimsy) but the kids had to try!!
Here are the basic steps: I gave some ideas for different masks styles- you basically want an oval head with a variety of different horns and eye holes. Look at Dominican masks online for inspiration.
To make the mask symmetrical, fold a piece of paper in half and only draw half of the mask.
Then cut out. I use scarp paper for the initial mask...
So here are some templates.
Use these to trace onto light coloured paper- I recommend a smooth coloured paper like cardstock and not construction paper as it doesn't take markers very well (it dries them out).
Cut out the mask (younger students need help cutting the eye holes) and then decorate with markers.
For an even simpler mask, if you have less time, just let the kids apply glue
(or show you where to apply it- much cleaner) and add glitter.
For older students, you can trace the masks onto heavy-weight white paper and
paint them with watercolours.