African masks are an important part of African culture and art. They are often used by dancers and storytellers, at various festivals and tribal ceremonies. They are individual, and hand crafted, and all represent something original. Many are sacred objects and protect people.
There is a short introduction to this topic by Britannica Kids. This is suitable for younger children
Artyfactory has a whole section devoted to the different types of masks and informs what they are used for. “Woyo masks are carved for the ritual dances of the ‘ndunga’, a male society responsible for maintaining social order.” These are very informative but not all children will be able to read the content; however, the site is excellent for older children. Teachers may need to draw out important points for each type of mask they wish to demonstrate. This site does have a mask design lesson – this is made from paper using symmetry – but, as the whole site, it is better suited to older children. There is also a free downloadable pdf of the basic mask shapes. Each one is a full A4 size. These would help children design their mask. Younger children could simply paint them for an African mask display.
Some of the easiest masks to make are demonstrated on firstpalette, by using a paper plate as the basis for the mask. This would be a good start for younger children.
Art for Small Hands covers the making of papier mâché face masks. (When, in a previous life, I made masks with papier mâché I started with a blown up balloon, building one side to get the rounded face shape.)
Many African mask art displays have been created with flat painted versions, or collages, rather than actual face masks.
There are some wonderful YouTube videos providing demonstrations of making masks, such as the one below: