Kindergarten students are now beginning their first extensive unit of the school year. This unit deals with various forms of costuming and celebrations. As we think about art which is worn on the body, masks usually come readily to mind. Discussion begins with asking students about the many uses of masks and listing them on the board: disguise, theatrics, festivities, ceremony, protection, etc.
Students are then shown two examples of African masks and are asked for what purpose they think these masks may have been used for. They are also asked to find various shapes, either geometric or free form, within the design and structure of the masks. Kindergarteners are asked about facial expressions and what they are. After making several different facial expressions of their own, students are shown two more examples of African masks and asked to identify their expressions.
This lesson takes several weeks to complete, as even paper masks are very time-consuming to construct. Each week consists of new teacher demonstrations and students are shown two teacher examples which convey strong facial expressions. Students are then instructed to think about what kind of shapes can be used to help convey the expression they will choose to depict on their mask, i.e. how will sharp triangular eyes differ in expression from large, circular eyes? What kind of shapes can be used for eyebrows in a shocked expression, or an angry face? Once the facial expression was completed, students were instructed on embellishing the mask with hair.