Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Mystery Masks

Sue Donk
Leon County Schools


Mystery Masks provides a fun and creative way for students to answer descriptive riddles about their classmates. Students also use this activity to better learn how to use descriptive words in their creative writing.


The student uses descriptive words to convey ideas in writing.


-Book: Guarino, Deborah and Kellogg, Steven. [Is Your Mama a Llama?] New York: Scholastic Trade, 1991.
-Student Mask, one per student (See Associated File)
-1 Pair of scissors per student
-1 Small bottle of glue per student
-Assorted colored sheets of construction paper for student mask preparation (enough colored sheets for the entire class)
-1 Stapler
-1 Sheet of drawing paper per student
-1 Sheet of writing paper per student
-1 Pencil per student
-1 Teacher Assessment Check Sheet per student (See Associated File)
-1 Teacher-made or store-bought clown mask
-1 Small mirror


1. Use assorted colored construction paper to create a teacher-made clown mask or purchase a mask from a party supply shop.
2. Gather all materials for the activity.
3. Make teacher copies of the Teacher Assessment Check Sheet. (See Associated File)
4. Make copies of Student Mask. (See Associated File)
5. Obtain a copy of [Is Your Mama a Llama?] by Deborah Guarino and Steven Kellogg.


1. Begin the lesson by slipping on the clown mask. Explain to the students that they are going to help generate a list of words that describes a clown.

2. Remove the mask and call on several students to suggest descriptive words for a clown. List words on the chalkboard.

3. Explain to the students that they will hear more descriptive words about animals as they listen to the book [Is Your Mama a Llama?] by Deborah Guarino and Steven Kellogg.

4. As the book is read orally to the class, explain to the children that the descriptions used in the picture clues and the words give clues to each hidden animal.

5. After completing the book, the teacher asks the children to recall descriptive words heard in the story.

6. Explain to the children that today they will make a mask illustrating features of one animal.

7. Show materials the children will use to make the masks. Show children the drawing paper the students will use to draw a large self-facial portrait.

8. Allow time for children to use class materials to make their masks. Circulate among the students to assist in suggesting animal details that may need to be included on a mask.

9. Show children the drawing paper the students will use to draw a large self-facial portrait. Allow time for the children to use drawing paper to illustrate a large self-facial portrait.

10. Use a stapler to attach each mask to the student’s self-portrait.

11. Remind students to write their names on the back of their self-portraits.

12. Collect materials when the activity is completed.

1. Begin the lesson with the teacher slipping on the clown mask.

2. Wearing the clown mask, review with the students some words that describe a clown.

3. Remove the clown mask and ask students to help generate a list of words that describes the visual appearance of the teacher. Write sentences using the descriptive words on the chalkboard.

4. Explain that today the students are going to write 3 complete sentences that describe the visual appearance of themselves. Write a model sentence on the board: “I am a boy.” Explain to students that this is a complete sentence but it does not contain any visual describing words. Rewrite the model sentence as follows: “I am a boy with brown curly hair.” Underline the words brown and curly. Explain that these are words that describe what the boy looks like. Remind students that they must keep their written descriptions private.

5. Hand out student writing paper and allow time for each student to write 3 complete descriptive sentences about themselves. Tell students to underline the visual describing words in each sentence. Remind students not to reveal their names on the front of their writing papers. Students may write their names on the back of their writing papers. Circulate among the class to help with spelling and aid students who may need extra assistance with descriptive words. Students may take turns using the mirror to help provide more visual features.

6. When the students have completed their 3 written sentences and underlined the visual describing words, attach the sentences to the student’s mask with self-portrait.

7. Use the remainder of the class lesson for students to read and display their masked portraits. Students may take turns “guessing” whose portrait may be underneath the mask after listening to the written descriptions.

8. Collect all papers and use the Teacher Assessment Check Sheet (See Associated File) to assess each student’s writing.


The students are assesed on their ability to use descriptive words to decribe their visual appearances. Look for visual descriptions of the student selected in the child's writing and self-portait. The student’s final product is evaluated using the Teacher Assessment Check Sheet (See Associated File) in which the student receives 2 out of 3 points to show knowledge of the standard. Students may need more practice and modeling before they demonstrate mastery of the benchmark at this level.


Post each self-portrait and student writing paper on the class bulletin board. The students will enjoy viewing these mystery portraits.
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