Objective: Students will design and make a rainforest bird mask.

Materials: 1 basic Halloween plastic eye mask per student, scissors, 1 foamie sheet, glue, multicolored tissue paper, assorted, brightly colored feathers

Background: Many different rainforest cultures create bird masks for special ceremonies and use feathers to adorn themselves. The Highland tribes of the Pacific island of New Guinea decorate with birds of paradise feathers. Chiefs of the ancient Hawaiian Islands wore helmets decorated with red, black, and yellow feathers. The red feathers came from the 'I'iwi bird. Along with the yellow feathers, they signified nobility. New Zealand Moari chiefs also decorated themselves with feathers. They wore white-tipped black feathers from the Huia bird. Natives of India, Borneo, and the Philippines incorporated the white, black and grey feathers of hornbills, relatives of the toucan, into their headdresses. South American Aztecs chose to decorate themselves with brilliant hummingbird feathers. Not all these birds were killed for their feathers. Often the feathers were gathered from molting birds as they shed their feathers each year.

Cut the triangular shape of a beak from the foamie sheet. Use the glue to adhere the beak to the nose of the mask. Let the mask dry thoroughly before proceeding.

Tear small pieces of tissue paper to use for the mask. Decide which colors you want to use in the design. Review some rainforest bird pictures for design ideas.

Spread the glue on the mask with your finger in a nice smooth layer.

Start placing pieces of tissue paper on the mask. Let it dry.

Turn the mask over and place a line of glue all around the top rim where you will add the feathers.

Place the base of the feathers in the glue on the mask. Hold them in place for a minute to make sure the glue holds the feathers.

Add any additional feathers to the front of the mask to finish it off. When it's completely dry, try it on and look in a mirror. What's the first thing that pops into your head when you first see the mask? Can you make up a name for your bird?

Decorate your classroom as a rainforest. Make other rainforest creatures from patterns obtained on the internet and from the Teacher's Resource Room. Hold a reader's theater in your rainforest that the students write from the researched information they've learned about the creatures they've made.

Have each student bring one ingredient to make GORP. Then hold a rainforest GORP sale and sell bags to the other students. With the money raised by the sales, adopt a primate or lemur from the Duke University Primate Center. Go on-line as a class for information: primatecenter.duke.edu/.

This activity was adapted from, "Rainforests: An Activity for Ages 6-9" by Nancy F. Castaldo

Grade Level:

Subject Areas:
Reading, Visual Arts

SD Standards for 4th grade:
4.R.1.1; 4.R.1.2

Visual Arts
Standard 1; Standard 3



Prior Preparation: Purchase one Halloween plastic eye mask for each student in the class. Review the layers of a rainforest and discuss with students the habitat of rainforest birds. An age-appropriate excellent rainforest bird resource is "Parrots, Tropical and Rainforest Birds", A Nature Watch book by Tom Jackson. This book has colorful pictures depicting rainforest birds.


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