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close this book Tools for teaching - A visual aids workshop, and instruction manual for health educators
close this folder Session 1. Introduction to the visual aids workshop
close this folder Handout 1.8.1 Making & using visual aids (Supplementary learning materials)
View the document Introduction
View the document 1. Chalkboard
View the document 2. Charts
View the document 3. Diagrams
View the document 4. Flip charts
View the document 5. Flannelboard
View the document 6. Posters
View the document 7. Comic books
View the document 8. Pamphlets
View the document 9. Flyers
View the document 10. Flexiflans
View the document 11. Games
View the document 12. Puppets
View the document 13. Masks
View the document 14. Slide presentations

13. Masks

Masks are very useful for role playing. Not only do they allow the participant to assume the personality and character of the person s/he is portraying, they also help participants shed many of their inhibitions. It is not unusual for people who are ashamed to speak in front of a group, or reluctant to participate in group activities, to express themselves freely from behind the safety and protection of a mask.

Masks, like puppets, can be made from a variety of materials. We offer instructions for just a few of many possibilities.

NOTE: For role-playing purposes, make masks that portray a wide range of emotions - anger, grief, joy, worry, surprise, etc.



Most people's eyes are approximately 3" apart. Keep this in mind when designing your masks so that there will always be a clear line of vision.




1) Draw a face on one side of a large, square-bottom paper bag.

2) Cut holes for eyes and mouth.

3) Color with marking pens.

Bag mask






stiff cardboard

colored marking pens

exacto knife

tape or glue

a flat stick, 25 cm. -30 cm. (10"-12") long



1) Draw a face on a piece of stiff cardboard

2) Cut out the head shape, making sure that it is a little larger than life-size.

3) Use an exacto knife to cut holes for eyes and mouth.

4) Tape or glue a flat stick to the back of the mask. Position the stick slightly off center so that it will not interfere with the mouth opening.

Hand held masks




Heavy paper

colored marking pens

scissors/exacto knife

white glue

a piece of string or elastic



1) Draw eyes and mouth on a piece of heavy paper. Outline a truncated triangle where the nose should be. The sides of the triangle should be approximately 3¼" (8 cm.) long.

Shaped paper mask - drawing


2) Outline the face about 1" (3 cm.) larger than life-size and cut it out.

3) Use an exacto knife to cut out eyes, mouth, and triangle nose.

4) Use scissors to snip around the edge of the mask. Cuts should be made about 1" (3 cm.) apart and extend into the face approximately 1"

Shaped paper mask - Cuts


5) To shape the nose:

• Cut a rectangle 5" x 3¼" (13 cm. x 8 cm.) out of heavy paper.



• Fold the top corners of the rectangle toward the center leaving a small gap (no more than V or 5 mm.) down the middle. Each fold should be 3¼" (8 cm.).

• Cut off bottom corners from the center to each side where the fold begins.



• Unfold the corners of the rectangle. Bend (but do not fold) the paper, and insert corners into the nose opening on the mask. Match the fold lines with the long edges of the triangular hole.

• Glue the two corners of the shaped nose piece flat against the back of the mask.

Shaped paper mask - glued


6) To shape the face:

Overlap and glue each tab created by the cuts made around the edge of the mask, one on the other. Continue overlapping and gluing around the whole mask.

Shape of the face

7) Attach elastic or a piece of string to each side of the mask to hold it in place.



A contour mask is made to conform to each individual face. Participants should work in pairs to create their own mask. The process of making this kind of mask promotes cooperation between community members.


a lightweight fabric scrap 10"-12" (25 cm -30 cm.) wide and long enough to tie around the head

brown paper craft tape



colored marking pens or poster paint

a sponge or rag

string or elastic



1) Cut brown paper craft tape into narrow strips about V (1.5 cm.) wide and 2" (5 cm.) long. You will need a lot of these.

2) Tie the fabric around the face of your partner.

Contour mask - Around the face


3) Moisten strips of tape on a wet sponge or rag and apply to the fabric.

• Outline the mask first.

• Overlap strips as they are applied. Build up two or three thicknesses over the entire surface of the mask.

• Leave openings for the eyes, mouth, and nose.

Contour mask - Openings


4) Very carefully, untie the fabric and remove the mask from the face of your partner. The mask will still be wet and therefore somewhat flexible. Try not to distort the contour.

5) Set the mask in the sun to dry.

While your partner's mask is drying, have him/her tie some fabric around your face and apply the tape for your mask.

6) When the masks are thoroughly dry, they, will be quite stiff. Separate the mask from the fabric by pulling the fabric away from the inner surface of the mask. If the fabric does not pull away easily, simply cut it away from the edges of the mask. Clip the eyeholes, mouth, and nose opening.

7) Adjust the size and shape of the eyes and mouth with scissors. Trim any uneven edges of the mask.

8) Reinforce the mask by folding strips of moistened tape over all the raw edges. Let dry.

Contour mask - Folding strips


9) Paint the mask and/or draw the features with colored marking pens. Add hair and other details as desired.

10) Attach elastic or string to each side of the mask to hold it in place.

Contour mask - Elastic string


The surface texture of the contour mask may be modified in a number of different ways. For example:

1) Before painting the mask, mix up some speckling compound and spread it as evenly as you can over the outer surface of the mask.

2) Let the mask dry thoroughly, then sand it smooth.

3) Paint or draw the feature details.

4) Seal with a light coat of white glue diluted with a little water.


1) Glue heavy brown twine to the surface of the mask in coils and patterns.

2) Coat the mask with white glue mixed with a little water.

Contour mask - glued and coated



Suggested mask activity:



1) On separate pieces of paper, write out a description of several different problem situations.

2) Have a variety of masks available for use by the actors. The masks should represent many different kinds of people and portray a full range of emotions.

3) Ask participants to assemble into groups of 4 - 5 persons each.

4) Have each group randomly select a problem situation and role play a possible solution for the rest of the members.

• Allow groups five or ten minutes to identify the problem and develop their strategy.

• Group members should then select a mask appropriate to the role they are playing.

• Ask one member of the group to read the problem out loud and introduce the characters before beginning the role play.

• The group then acts out their method of solving the problem. The role play should not be idealized but acted out in a realistic manner. Personality conflicts, differences of opinion, and bureaucratic red tape should all be considered.

• Remind groups that there are no "right" or "wrong" solutions. The object of the role play is to explore alternatives.


5) Following each skit, players should remove their masks and engage in a brief discussion with the audience.

• Ask the players how they felt as they interacted with one another.

• Do they feel their strategy was effective? Why or why not?

• Encourage the audience to share their observations, feelings, and comments.


Examples of problem situations for role play:

1) An impoverished mountain barrio 17 kilometers from the nearest municipality is completely isolated during the rainy season. The road washes out and the rivers are too high and too swift to cross safely. In the past year, eight people have died needlessly for lack of adequate medical care.

2) Sixty-two percent of the children in a certain barangay are malnourished. Although there is some rice farming in the area, the soil is generally poor and irrigation is inadequate. Many of the residents are unemployed.

3) The women in Barangay B have been trying for three years to raise funds to build a barangay health station. They are anxious to have a structure where they can hold nutrition and mothercraft classes as well as a permanent center where residents can consult with the local midwife and BHWs about medical problems. The primary health care committee supports their fundraising efforts but, somehow, most of the money taken in seems to end up in the pocket of the barangay captain.

4) Diarrheal disease has reached almost epidemic proportions in Barangay C. Only 12% of the population have toilet facilities and most people draw their water from open wells. Only a few families own their own house and land. Most live on property owned by another. Even when they have sufficient funds, renters are reluctant to spend the money to put in a pump and toilet, or to build fences to pen their animals, because they see no point in improving someone else's property.

5) The only transportation to and from a remote mountain barrio is provided by a vehicle that makes one round trip daily. The vehicle is owned by the brother of the barangay captain and is driven by his nephew. During the past year, the vehicle has been involved in three serious accidents in which passengers have been killed. The accidents were caused as much by the chronic drunkeness of the driver as by the poor conditions of the road. Following the third accident in which two teenagers were killed and three other persons seriously injured, the license of the driver was suspended. Nevertheless, he has continued to drive. The family of the driver has "connections" in the municipality and in the provincial capital. Neither the number of people nor the demand for transportation could support a second vehicle.