Beacon Lesson Plan Library

People Behind the Masks

David Worrell


A visual presentation with teacher commentary introduces the students to the art of maskmaking and develops the students' understanding of the world cultures that have produced the masks.


The student understands how social, cultural, ecological, economic, religious, and political conditions influence the function, meaning, and execution of works of art.


- A mask that the teacher wears as students enter the room
- Visual presentation prepared from the book, MASKMAKING. Carol Sivin, 1986, Worcester, Massachusetts, Davis Publications.
- T-Chart on class board
- Student copies of T-Chart (see Associated File)


1. Prepare a visual presentation (35mm color slides, video, color transparencies, or power point) about masks including masks from many cultures past and present collected from the MASKMAKING by Carole Sivin and from selected web sites including In the commentary be sure to identify each mask used according to the four dimensions identified in this lesson. Also, in the purpose section of each mask be sure to include information that will explain how any social, political or cultural conditions may have influenced the creation, meaning, or function of the masks.
2. Prepare a menu of answers to the probe questions suggested in the Procedure section of this lesson. Information is available in the Sivin book.
3. Assemble and check the appropriate AV equipment to present the lesson.
4. Select a mask to wear at the beginning of the lesson.
5. Prepare the T-Chart on the board or on chart paper. Label the columns “Character,” “Nationality,” “Media,” and “Purpose.”
6. Devise a plan for grouping the students for the group activity.
6. Download the T-Chart from the Associated File and make enough copies for each group’s response and for individual students as well.


1. Wear a mask as the students enter the room to set the stage for the lesson. After students are seated and at attention, identify the mask the teacher is wearing in terms of its creator, nationality, media, and purpose for which the mask was made.

2. Explain that masks have been made by past and present cultures all over the world, and that students are going to view images of masks and hear information about the cultures that produced them. Information shared during the presentation will include the following four dimensions: character or being portrayed by the mask, the nationality of its creator, the media used in its creation, and the purpose for which the mask was worn. The purpose of the mask will also include information relaying how the mask may have been impacted by any political, social, or cultural conditions. Direct students to pay close attention and take adequate notes on each mask viewed with respect to the four dimensions involved as they will be participating in a group activity requiring them to recall information they have just heard in the presentation.

3. Prior to viewing the presentation, the teacher may pose questions to stimulate and direct the students’ thinking regarding masks.
-What characters have been portrayed in mask form?
-What peoples of the world make masks?
-What materials are used in making masks?
-Why do people make and wear masks?
-What present day face coverings can you think of and what are their functions?

4. Call attention to the sample T-chart on the board and explain that after viewing the presentation students will be divided into groups. Each group will appoint a recorder and presenter. The chart must be completed using a consensus of group members’ responses to be presented to the whole class for validation.

5. Deliver the visual presentation with teacher commentary.

6. Divide class into groups of 5 to 7 students.

7. Distribute one T-chart to each group and allow the group 10 minutes to record their responses on the chart, Circulate around the room to encourage participation from all group members when necessary.

8. Call the class back to order. Distribute a blank T-Chart to each student. Ask each group’s presenter to share his/her group’s responses with the class as the teacher fills in the T-chart on the board, eliminating duplicate responses. Direct each student to complete a chart of his or her own to review in preparation for a future assessment activity.


Group Assessment: Observe each group and its members in the process of completing the T-Chart to make record of whether individual participation is “evident” or “not evident” and cooperative effort is being “demonstrated” or “not demonstrated.”
Individual Assessment: In a succeeding class period have students identify 5 slides of masks from the original presentation with regard to the 4 dimensions discussed in this lesson. (Be sure that the purpose explains how any social, political or cultural conditions may have influenced the creation of the mask.) Display each slide for one or two minutes. Slide identification may be done on a T-Chart the teacher prepares using a 4x5 grid for the responses. (See Associated File.) Each appropriate response will be awarded 5 points for a total of 100 points possible. The numeric total is a grade that can be easily converted to a letter grade or “Pass/Fail” grade at the teacher's discretion.


This lesson is an introductory lesson in a unit on maskmaking.
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