Designing Masks for a Purpose

By Luis H, February 27, 2017

Grade Level

  • High School


  • Product Design

Subject Area

  • Arts
  • Language Arts
  • Social Studies

Lesson Time

360 minutes of classroom activities


Students will discuss the origin, creativity and evolution of Mardi Gras Masks. Students will increase their knowledge, appreciation and background of the MGM. At the same time the implication for seasonal and out of season demand. Students will learn basic and different materials, procedures of design as they engage in the creation of their own masks.

National Standards

Language Arts Reading: RL/RI.1. Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it. RL/RI.2. Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development. Language Arts Writing: W.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content. W.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. W.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation. W.8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism. Language Arts Speaking and Listening: SL.1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively. SL.2 Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally. SL.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. SL.5 Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.   Visual Arts   Standard 1. Understands and applies media, techniques, and processes related to the visual arts. Standard 2. Knows how to use structures (e.g., sensory qualities, organizational principles, expressive features) and functions of art. Standard 3. Knows a range of subject matter, symbols, and potential ideas in the visual arts. Standards4. Understands the visual arts in relation to history and cultures. Standard 5. Understands the characteristics and merits of one’s own artwork and the artwork of others.   Career Education, Arts and Communication   Standard 1. Understands the principles, processes, and products associated with arts and communication media. Standard 2. Knows and applies appropriate criteria to arts. Practice Creativity Standard 3. Uses critical and creative thinking in various arts and communication settings.   Economics Standard 3. Understands the concept of prices and the interaction of supply and demand in a market.   Geography Standard 18. Understand global development and environmental issues.


Students will:  
  • Understand the historical, cultural and social significance of Mardi Gras Masks design.
  • Improve their observation skills.
  • Learn elements of effective design.
  • Engage in constructive critiques.
  • Understand the process involved in designing MGMs
  • Understand the process of producing MGMs.
  • Work in teams to design and create masks to be presented to the class, teachers and family members.
  • Learn the art of working together in small and large groups for a common goal.
  • Learn how to consider all people involved in the mask design process.
  • Use of technology and different materials in making appealing and effective masks.

Resources Mardi Gras masks catalogs and ads Digital camera LCD projector Smart Board Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator PowerPoint Local MGM design studios


ü  Pencils ü  Colored pencils ü  Markers ü  Sketch paper ü  Copies of various mask shapes ü  Different mask styles ü  Different mask sizes ü  Assorted materials ü  Feathers Glue


  • Balance
  • Emphasis
  • Prototype
  • Repetition
  • Reversal
  • Rubbing transfer
  • Silkscreen
  • Unity
  • Variety
  • Mardi
  • Gras
  • Carnival


Day 1:
  1. Teacher asks students if anyone knows the history behind the Mardi Gras Masks, where they came from, what they mean and why people wear them.
  2. After a small discussion, teacher will instruct students to create groups of 3 or 4 students to research the history behind the use of MGMs.
  3. Students will take notes and before the end of the class period a representative from each group will make an oral report of their findings.
Day 2:
  1. Teacher will review the student’s findings about the MGMs history.
  2. Teacher will show a Power Point Presentation on MGMs examples, students will take notes and make close observations about the different masks, materials, colors, shapes, etc.
  3. Back in small groups of students they will talk about the shapes, materials, colors, sizes, what makes some masks more appealing or attractive than others, etc. Teacher will write the class findings on a chart. The chart will be kept in a visible place during the entire process.
  4. Teacher will explain to students that they will be working in the design, creation, and production of Mardi Gras Masks as a fundraising project for their class. That they will need to consider their peers, school teachers, parents and relatives as well as neighbors, to that that appeals them and will want to buy mask from them.
  5. Students will need to understand that working in groups it will benefit everyone as they will share ideas that the goal is to learn how to take someone’s idea and merge them with their own to come up with better ideas.
  6. Have students to come up with a minimum of four criteria that the students can use to keep track of their work and that can be use to evaluate their work. Everyone will need to participate in an equal way to receive credit. Teacher goes over their criteria and ads to the students to create a rubric that will be use, and posted, during the entire process.
Day 3:
  1. Teacher will go over the rubric and encourage students to put forth their best effort.
  2. Have students to individually sketch out a prototype mask. Their design will include materials colors, and shapes.
Day 4:
  1. Students will get in their own groups and take out their designs; they will exchange designs and will add one thing to make the given draft. Students will switch four times, each time adding something new unto the pre-existing design. At the end of the period every student should end up with their original design.
  2. Groups will show all work to each other and critic their designs.
  3. All groups will present the designs to the whole class.
  Day 5:
  1. Students will get in their own groups and go over their designs, will discuss the prototypes.
  2. Students will discuss their findings about the wishes, desires, and preferences of their classmates, teachers, parents, etc. Teacher will make clear that the winning design must satisfy the needs of all. Teacher should go over elements and principles of design, good procedures for working in groups, and grading rubrics.
  3. The group of students will start working on their designs. Each group will have the need it materials to begin producing their Mardi Gras Masks.
  1. Teacher may begin this period by going over what editing looks like in art. Showing a design evolution or a presentation of the creation of a logo. Students will continue working on their masks. The final design will be put up for a vote since the mask will represent the school spirit.
Day 7:
  1. On this day students will complete their designs.
  Day 8:
  1. Students make their presentations.
  2. A vote is taken and the winning mask is presented to the class.
  3. The winning mask is selected for mass production.


To make sure every student is actively involved in their own groups, each group will determine the criteria for a group work rubric and then they will grade themselves according to this rubric. Students will be given the opportunity to express in a verbal, written, and/or a design presentation that encapsulates the design process and what they’ve learned about Mardi Gras Masks. This will be graded by the teacher who has developed a rubric for this final presentation with an emphasis on creative presentation of information, efficacy of communication ideas, and scope of knowledge.

Enrichment Extension Activities

Students will pool the school body about their knowledge concerning the history of Mardi Gras Masks. They can create a club that can meet to continue with the creation of more and different masks. Students could design a specific mask that could represent each grade level.

Teacher Reflection

This activity will give a sense of uniqueness and identity to students.

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