How to Make Native American Masks

By Elle Blake ; Updated September 15, 2017

Things Needed

  • Washable table cloth
  • Aprons
  • Craft foil
  • Newspaper
  • Flour
  • Water
  • Pots
  • Paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Decorations such as beads, feathers, sequins, string

As part of Kindergarten curriculum, teachers are required to introduce their students to different cultures. One of the most popular is the Native American culture and legends, which children often find fascinating. To make lessons more interactive, you can make masks with the children, and listen to Native American stories and music. Making Native American masks isn’t difficult, and allows the children to both learn about the culture and express creativity.

Cover the work surface with a washable table cloth. The process can be very messy; ensure children are wearing protective clothing, such as aprons. You may wish to print pictures of Native American masks to inspire the students as they make their own.

Hold a piece of foil in front of the students face, and fold it so it is doubled. Cut this foil off the roll.

Cut the doubled piece of foil in half, so you have two pieces.

Hold one piece of the foil, and gently press against the students face. The foil should mold to the face, showing the curve of the face and the nose.

Repeat with the other strip of foil on the other side of the face.

Reassemble the foil so that they are in the correct order, giving you a foil face. Gently tape the two pieces together from behind, to secure the face.

Roll up sheets of newspaper to form small balls. Place these on the back of the foil, to support the curves.

Mix 2 parts flour and 1 part water in a pot, and stir well until it has a thick, gooey consistency. It should feel like glue or thick paint. Add more water or flour as necessary until it reaches this consistency.There should be no lumps.

Tear up newspaper to form strips which are around the length of the face and 2 inches wide. You’ll need a lot of strips.

Dip the newspaper strip into the paste pot, and gently place on the foil face. Repeat, laying the strips in different directions, until the foil face is completely covered in newspaper.

Allow the foil face to dry, and repeat until you have four or five layers. This will make the mask sturdy. Native Americans made their masks from carved wood, which was thick and strong.

Paint the mask, and allow to dry. Native Americans often styled their masks to look like animals. They would choose an animal that represented a spirit or characteristic they admired, and decorate themselves to look like this. Provide a choice of reds, browns, whites, blacks and grays to give your students a large palette. Ask them which animal they have chosen to represent, and why. This helps the student to think like a Native American and understand their culture.

Allow the children to decorate the masks, using pictures of Native Americans as inspiration. Native Americans decorated their masks with natural items they could find, such as tree bark or straw. They also used the feathers or fur from the animals they were imitating. Provide paints, feathers, fabric and paper to allow your student to recreate an authentic mask.

Tip

If you don’t want a mask you hold to your face, punch holes in the sides of the mask and attach some elastic, or attach the mask to a cardboard tube to hold.

About the Author

Elle Blake has been writing since 2006. Her articles regularly appear in "All Women Stalk," "Parenting," "Education Plus" and "Glamour." She has a Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) in early childhood studies and primary education and a Bachelor of Science (Hons.) in animal welfare and behavior, both from the University of Warwick. She is currently studying towards NCTJ Certificate in Magazine and Journalism.