Level II-Art Lesson 11: The Mexican Mask
Learning about Symmetry, Motifs, and Emphasis
The lesson is suitable for students in grade 4 through adult.
Art Lesson Description
Inspiration for this lesson comes from masks made for the Mexican Holiday, El Dia de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead). On November 2, The Day of the Dead holiday, Mexicans celebrate the lives of those who have died by
- decorating their graves with marigolds,
- lighting candles both at home and in cemeteries, and
- wearing masks that look like decorated skulls.
Our drawing lesson for the mask makes it easy to create a perfectly symmetrical mask outline. The challenges for the artist will be these:
- To create a design on the mask that is symmetrical (the right side will mirror the left).
- To emphasize the nose, eyes, and mouth in the mask design while creating patterns over the whole mask, and
- To create one or more motifs (a pattern you repeat) in the design.
This lesson includes both POWERPOINT and VIDEO versions of the lesson.
List of Supplies for Each Art Student
- Fine tipped permanent black marker (#ad) or ultra fine (0.5 mm) black marking pen (#ad)
- 1 scissors
- Washable colored markers (#ad)
- 1 sheet of 8.5” x 11” white printer paper
- 1 piece of poster paper or other stiff white paper, cut to 9” x 12”
- 1 pencil
- Optional: glue, a rubber band, and stapler
Suggestions for Cross-Curricular Connections
Social Studies: Learn the history of the holiday. Here are some resources:
- Read El Dia de Los Muertos (#ad) by Mary Dodson Wade.
- Read El Dia de Los Muertos Calavera Abecedario: A Day of the Dead Alphabet Book (#ad) by Jeanette Winter.
- Watch an interview with people celebrating the holiday.
Learn about other Mexican holidays:
- The Latino Holiday Book: From Cinco de Mayo to Dia de Los Muertos: The Celebrations and Traditions of Hispanic-Americans (#ad) by Valerie Menard.
- Read The Day of the Dead / El Dia de los Muertos (#ad) by Bob Barner.
- Read I Remember Abuelito: A Day of the Dead Story / Yo Recuerdo a Abuelito: Un Cuento del Día de los Muertos (Spanish and English Edition) (#ad) by Janice Levy.
- For the younger students, read Coco a Little Golden Book by Adrian Molina and Fabiola Garza.
- Write about some pleasant memories of a friend or relative who has died.
- Find lots of children's books about Mexico at this website.
- Make a Day of the Dead bread with this recipe and learn about the science of yeast.
Approximate Lesson Time to Complete the Art Class:
- Making the mask shape: 20 minutes
- Drawing and coloring the mask: 50 minutes
- 70 minutes