Each week I work with two small groups of students that come to me from our schools autism center. I have two different groups-one includes students from kindergarten to second grade aged, and the other is third through sixth grade aged. These students have a wide variety of abilities, and I have to design lessons that can be adapted to any skill level, from completely hand over hand to completely independent. Since we were already working with cut paper masks this week, we did some mask-making with each of these classes. My student teacher created a bunch of simple paper mask bases in a variety of colors. We supplied construction paper strips of varied sizes and colors, and we demonstrated some simple paper sculpture techniques such as loop, roll, pleat, and fringe. Students then used these techniques to create wacky paper faces. Here are some of the masks from the younger group. Younger students are focusing more on just watching and following step-by-step instructions, but choosing their own materials and colors. Students in the older class break out more and are working more independently. We are still focusing on following directions and motor skills, but these students come up with their own ways of doing things and are able to create more individual artworks. Here is the mask created by the IA and student who were working entirely hand-over-hand. I think we are seeing the IAs creativity more than the student, since this student has limited verbal and fine motor skills, but it is still a very wacky face. And just for good measure, here is April’s teacher example. For some reason it reminds me of the Hamburglar
I have four third grade classes this year and each class is at a completely different stage of the paper sculpture mask unit we have been working on due to two-hour delays, federal holidays, and snow days. As my student teacher put it, we have been doing masks forever. I thought I would share some of the completed masks now that we have had two classes make it through the entire unit. Students viewed and discussed masks from a variety of cultures including Chinese, Native American, Greek and Roman. Student attempted to guess the function or purpose of many different masks. We then took some time to discuss how masks are currently used in our own culture, and students designed an original mask to be worn during a cultural event or celebration. The chart below is a screenshot of a group of cultural mask images that was originally compiled during curriculum development. I love displaying this entire chart on my smart board and letting my students decide which masks to discuss. They select the masks they are most interested in, and we discuss what they may have been used for based on what they visually notice and describe about each mask. I then give a bit of historical background about the culture the mask is actually from and how the mask was used. Each student selected their own cultural event, then designed a symbolic mask that could be worn as part of that celebration. Celebrations students suggested included cultural and religious holidays, birthdays, even sporting events. Once students had designed their mask by creating sketches, they were asked to label their sketch to show which three-dimensional paper sculpture techniques they thought they could use to create the 3D features of their paper mask sculpture. During the second class period students followed step-by-step instructions to create a basic paper mask form, then began using three-dimensional paper sculpture techniques to add features to their masks. Since I had April student teaching in my room, I was able to create a brand new paper sculpture techniques chart, since the one I had been using was created back when I was a student teacher (in 2007-yikes!) and it was looking supper flattened and frumpy. I added all of the three-dimensional techniques I could think of, and my new chart looks like a work of art all by itself!Each student is encouraged to select a cultural event that is personally meaningful, and every student is then faced with the challenge of applying their knowledge of paper sculpture to create the mask that they sketched. By presenting an open-ended challenge students have the opportunity to develop their own ideas and use art skills in a more meaningful way. Students combine two-dimensional cut paper techniques with three-dimensional paper sculpture techniques to create an original solution to the sculptural challenge. At the end of the unit students write a brief statement that describes the cultural event they selected and how their mask relates to the cultural event. At the end of class we line up and have a mask parade where students can take turns wearing their mask and parading through the classroom. Before each student takes their turn I take a quick photo with my phone of the student holding their mask beside their face, so that I have an image I can use for grading their work later. This way students get to take home their mask sooner and I still have a visual to grade. Here are some of the snapshots I took of the masks. I cropped the students out in case I don’t have permission to post students’ faces online. I wish I could show this child’s face because his expression is priceless. This mask is a vampire for a Halloween party.This one is a gift shaped mask designed for a Christmas celebration. Here is an awesome first day of school mask. I love that this lesson allows students to think about what we might include as a cultural event. Students are quick to think of holidays but when they start thinking about what other events are cultural we start to get really unique masks. Here is another non-holiday related cultural event. The photo doesn’t do it justice. This student built tiny soccer players and nets that stood up from the grassy mask base. I love how this student’s mask shows the potential of what a mask can be. He didn’t just think about making a face; instead, he built a mask that represents an entire soccer field. He combined the two-dimensional skills for building the soccer players with three-dimensional methods to make the flat objects stand upright.Below is a leprechaun mask designed for St. Patrick’s Day. Two students were working on masks with three-dimensional hats. When the second student asked me how to build a 3D hat, I encouraged them to talk to this student because she had already built her leprechaun’s mask. I frequently do this because it encourages students to see each other as artists and resources, rather than just the teacher. I want students to see the art room as an artists’ studio where any artist could help them grow and develop their art skills. My favorite mask was designed for Chinese New Year. The student built a mask that represents a bowl of noodles with three-dimensional chopsticks holding a noodle, and a spoon for the broth.