Third Graders learned about the history, craftsmanship, and significance of African masks through an original PowerPoint presentation, and through class discussions and hands-on explorations of mask reproductions. I have been interested in African masks since I was an undergraduate, and I wrote my thesis on the influence of African art on artists such as Picasso and Gauguin.
Here are some of the slides from the presentation. After viewing and discussing what they'd seen, third graders sketched their masks. In the following weeks, they used paper mache, paint, and natural material embellishments to bring their masks to life.
The lion mane is for protection. The horns are for head-butting to kill bad dudes. The teeth are for a bear and to scare away guys who are mean. The spots are for a cheetah, fast as lightning. That would be useful to have a dad with cheetah power because you would be early to school.
Mine you can wear at celebrations and parties because it brings love and happiness. The angel wings bring happiness, love, and play. I will use cloth, fur, and foil.
Humble and proud: For humble I did a pony and for proud I did a lion. The zigzags mean tha people like you. You wear it when you are going into adulthood.
Alligator mouth, ram horns, bull nose, lion's mane. Wear it when a new leader becomes a leadeer.
My mask is used to scare away evil spirits when children are scared. I will use feathers, leather, and shells, foil, fuzz. The bull horns mean don't come near. The leopard print means run fast. The fangs mean I scare you if you come near. The lion mane is for people to think he is nice but really he is mean and the unicorn horn is to poke.
My mask is for when a warrior dies on the battlefield. The ox horns are for strength in the other life. The spike is to ward off evil. The tusks are for revenge on the killer.
This mask is used for a sad time like when someone dies. The ram horns represent when they used to make sacrifices and kill rams. The bull horns have blood on the tips for death. The feathers are from a dead bird.
My mask is to scare away evil spirits. It's a ram. It can head-butt them away from the village.
My mask is used for scaring away evil spirits away from the house. Mine has ram horns to push the spirits out.
My mask is to scare away spirits. Celebrated only on festivals. The design has bull's horns to protect people.
My mask is for animal funerals. It scares the evil away.