Make A Simple Cardboard Mask
Over the last couple of years, the notion of wearing a mask has taken on an altogether different meaning. Much more fun, and far less controversial, these animal masks are perfect for playing dress-up at home or adding to a fancy dress costume. They also look great hung up and displayed on children’s bedroom walls when not in use.
As with many of the projects shared here on KiddoCo, the masks can either be made by you for your children to wear and enjoy, or made with them as a creative activity you can enjoy together. Personally, I’d pick the latter, but you can bet I’m going to make an extra mask for myself while I’m helping and supervising their efforts.
You will need:
Medium-weight card (see below for suggestions)
Paint and paintbrush
Scraps of coloured paper or thin card
Hole punch or large needle
Elastic or thin ribbon
My two favourite sources of cardboard for this kind of project are empty cereal boxes and used hardback envelopes. The envelope card is thicker – perfect for giving the masks extra strength, but trickier to cut out. Cereal boxes are more flexible and easier to cut. If you want to compromise, cut out two identical shapes from the cereal box and stick them together for a double-strength mask.
Making the mask
Download and print your chosen mask template, or use our mask shapes as inspiration to draw your own if you don’t have a printer. Trace the mask onto cardboard and cut out. Use small, sharp scissors to cut out the eyeholes, too – this part is probably best done by an adult.
Add some colour
Now you have your basic mask shape, you need to add some colour. The easiest option is paint. You can use basic acrylic or poster paints, or any leftover emulsion from household DIY projects. (I always seem to have dozens of tester pots in the garage, and projects like this are a great way to use them up.) Brush a couple of coats onto your mask, allowing the first one to dry before you add the second.
Alternatively, you can use paper to colour the mask. Scraps of colourful tissue or poster paper stuck down with PVA craft glue will work, or if you want a patterned background, you could try using pieces of gift wrap.
Creating the details
To add facial features and detail to the mask, copy and cut out some of the basic shapes on our template from paper or thin card. If you’re looking for a learning opportunity along the way, talk about geometric shapes, like circles, triangles, ovals and rectangles, as you draw and cut out the different pieces. You can also add as many more of your own shapes as you like.
If you’re using plain sheets of thin card to make your decorations, brush on one or two coats of paint in colours which contrast or coordinate with your basic mask. You can obviously skip this step if you’re working with coloured card instead.
Putting it together
Once your mask and all of the pieces are dry, it’s time to start decorating. Gather together the pieces and start placing them on top of the mask. Add half circles to make ears, triangles for noses, circles for cheeks, and so on. Keep moving things around and adding more pieces until you’re happy with the way your mask looks, then grab the glue. You can use a glue stick here – it will dry more quickly – but for a stronger, longer-lasting finish, a basic PVA or craft glue is best. Stick each piece down, one at a time, then set your mask aside for an hour or so to dry.
Use a large needle or a hole punch to make a hole in each side of the mask. Thread a piece of elastic through one of the holes, and make a knot to hold it in place. Have your kiddo hold the mask over their face, then stretch the rest of the elastic around their head and back through the other hole. Check they can see through the eyeholes in the mask, and that it doesn’t feel too tight around their head, then knot the end of the elastic and cut off any excess.
If you want a slightly fancier finish, or don’t have any elastic to hand, you can use ribbon here instead. Thread a piece through each of the holes and knot to hold in place. You can then tie the ribbon ends together at the back of your child’s head to hold the mask in place.
And there you go – that’s your mask all finished and ready to wear. I love the simple, graphic look you get from using just these few, basic materials, as well as the challenge it provides to your child’s creativity working with fewer supplies. Set them the challenge yourself, and see what sort of magic they create.