As a supplement to an educational unit on animals, help children create three-dimensional masks of their favorite animals. The All Species website recommends building a plaster cast mask that fits to a child’s face and modifying it by adding ears, horns, beaks or noses. Another option is to purchase a basic mask form and decorate it to resemble an animal.
Plaster Cast Mask
Cut plaster tape into strips measuring 1 inch by 4 inches. The All Species website also recommends cutting some strips of different lengths and widths to have a variety of strips to choose from while making the plaster cast.
Cover the child’s face with petroleum jelly around the areas that will be covered by the mask. Be sure to pay attention to eyebrows and hairline. Secure hair off the face with a headband.
Fill a bowl with warm water and dip the plaster cast tape strips into the warm water. Apply wet plaster cast tape to the child’s face. Start by placing strips along the hairline, down by the ears and under the nose to form the mask’s perimeter. Be sure to overlap the edges of the tape and cover the entire perimeter with three edges of tape.
Layer wet plaster tape along the bridge of the nose, under the eyes and throughout the mask’s interior. Keep the eye holes symmetrical on the masks. Cover the interior of the mask with three layers of plaster cast tape.
Allow the mask to dry for 10 to 15 minutes and then carefully loosen it from the child’s face. Wad up some pieces of newspaper and place them inside the mask. Set it aside to dry over night.
Using a Basic Mask Base
Fill a bowl with warm water. Cut strips of mod rock in a variety of lengths and widths.
Gently dip the mod rock in the water, getting it damp enough so it will stick to the mask base.
Apply damp mod rock strips to the mask base to build a three-dimensional face. Do not overlap the mod rock strips on the mask base. Set the mask aside to dry.
Decorating the Mask
Use craft paint to paint the masks to resemble their assigned animal. Allow the mask to dry completely.
Trace out ears, snouts and beaks on construction paper. Be sure to add an extra tab to glue the features to the mask.
Glue ears, snouts, beaks and other features to the dry, painted masks. Encourage students to add pipe cleaners for whiskers and yarn for hair and manes. Glue a string to the back of the masks to allow students to wear their completed projects.
Encourage children to wear art smocks when decorating their masks to avoid messing up their clothing. Use the same procedures to decorate the plaster cast mask or the modified mask base.
A dry plaster mask may pull out hair from the hairline and the eyebrows if they are not sufficiently coated with petroleum jelly.