Grade 5 lesson plan

Masks of Diversity

Grade 5 lesson plan

  • Lesson theme: Diversity: “People are not so different underneath what we see with our eyes”
  • Integrated subject: Social Studies
  • Grade level: Fifth grade
  • Time: Complete lesson will take two days. Each class period is 45 minutes.
  • Lesson Authors: Lauren, Jesse, and Hope of Miami University of Ohio

Lesson Overview: 

The students will be decorating a mask to show off who they are while also representing diversity and highlighting their own uniqueness. This lesson plan is designed for 5th grade students. To teach students about not only diversity, but about how everyone is equal and yet still unique. The students will all be provided with the cardboard mask that they will then decorate. The idea behind having the mask is to also help the students not see people by how they look, but what they bring to the table. This implements the “don’t judge a book by its cover” saying and teaches others that it is not a bad thing to be different, but that they should celebrate it!

 Essential Questions:

  • Why is diversity important?
  • Where can you see diversity? 
  • How is diversity present in your everyday life?

Visual Culture Component:

This is a short clip made for young students that teaches children about diversity. It goes into detail about ways that make everyone different, but even though we are all different we should still respect others and appreciate what makes us all diverse.

  • What makes people diverse?
  • How can you represent yourself as being diverse?
promo screenshot from Little Shikhs video

Contemporary Component:

This connects to what students see and are drawn to outside of school because now days kids are really into social media and taking selfies. They hear about issues that are happening through social media. They are able to be connected to people all around the world and post pictures. JR is an artist that loves to take close up (selfies) of people’s faces. These images come from his Face 2 Face project. To show the state of having people who are different races or who have different cultures in a group or organization can still appreciate and accept others around us and oneself. This also connects to Freedom Summer and the diversity among students, we can look past color and race and see each other as equal. Some questions to get students discussing the images are:

  • How do artists represent diversity?
  • Why do you think it is important for artist to represent or make people aware of diversity?
Artistic photographs of men looking into the camera distorting their faces.

Historical/Cultural/Artist Information:

Image Descriptions: Freedom Summer

This is image was taken during 1964 when students and volunteers were helping in the Freedom Summer project. This will relate to the lesson because the students will be learning about diversity. This is a great image to show fifth grades they will learn about Freedom Summer and see how people got along and worked together for the greater good. Leading questions to ask to students to get them thinking more about this image are:

  • How do you see diversity in this image?
  • How can you see diversity among your own peers around you?
Freedom Summer volunteers holding hands and singing freedom songs beside a school bus before they prepare to travel to Mississippi.

Historical and Cultural significance:

These photos relate to Freedom Summer by showing how different our world can be by showing off different regions of the world and how they use masks to celebrate, perform rituals, or religious ceremonies. Masks have been used for over 9,000 years and the earliest dates back to 7,000 BCE. Knowing this, masks have been a part of han culture for a very long time and is more than likely not going to go away any time soon. They are used to promote diversity through the different uses and locations. For instance, a mask from Africa looks completely different than a mask from France or Italy. Masks promote diversity in not only culture, but in personality. All of them are decorated differently according to the wearer’s desires. With this in mind it isn’t always about what you see on the outside that matters, as to the thoughts of the Civil Rights movement. It’s about the emotions, culture, beliefs, and what that person can bring forth to society that matters. That is what makes us diverse as a community. This relates back to Freedom Summer because everyone was so fixated on skin color that they didn’t even take time to meet, or get to know any person of color. Some leading questions you could ask are: 

  • How can these masks represent diversity?
  • What do you think the purpose of these masks were?

Ohio Standards of Learning 

Standards for Art

  1. 2PE Identify and communicate how historical and cultural contexts influence ideas that inform artist.
  2. 4PR Select and use the elements and principles of art and design to communicate understanding of an interdisciplinary concept. 
  3. 2RE Describe how personal experiences can influence artistic preferences. 

Standard for Social Studies

Ohio’s New Learning Standards: 5th grade Social Studies 

Content Statement 10: The Western Hemisphere is culturally diverse due to American Indian, European, Asian and African influences and interactions, as evidenced by artistic expression, language, religion and food.

Lesson Objectives: 

Students will:

  • Distinguish connections between historical works of art and cultural works of art. (2PE)
  • Look at an artist like JR to see how they connect personally to their work. (2RE)
  • Design a mask that represents their understanding of what diversity is. (4PR)
  • Identify how the Western Hemisphere is influenced by diversity through other cultures. (SS Content Statement 10)

 Vocabulary / Academic Language:

  • Collage- a piece of art made by sticking various different materials such as photographs, pieces of paper, or fabric onto a backing.
  • Culture- a group of people with similar ideas, that want to be a part of something unique.
  • Diversity- the quality or state of having many different forms, types, ideas, etc./ the state of having people who are different races or who have different cultures in a group or organization.
  • Location- Where you are positioned in the world. Could be locally, Nationally, or worldwide location.
  • Depth- How far something comes off of a base
  • Three-dimensional-  having or appearing to have length and depth. Sticks up off of the object
  • Two dimensional- having length but no depth. Being flat in shape.
  • Abstract- creating a piece of art with extreme variety in what you see: color, shapes, size, and scale.

Freedom Summer Summary:

  • What is Freedom Summer?
    • It was a program to make people more aware and equipped to work towards equality for all Americans, particularly aimed at assisting in the South.
    • At this summer program students and volunteers were trained in nonviolent resistance techniques to go to Mississippi to help African Americans register to vote.
    • It was a very dangerous trip. There was a lot of violence in Mississippi towards African Americans and also the people who were standing up for them.
  • How is this still going on in the world?
    • People not being nice to one another.
    • There are still some people who do not believe in equality for all. 
  • How can we apply this in the real world?
    • Hate crimes
  • Connect to Social Studies
    • Students can learn about what certain individuals had to go through and through learning about Freedom Summer students can gain a better understanding of the past. 

Lesson Procedures:

This lesson plan is going to be over a span of two days. Each class period is 45 minutes long. 

Day 1:

Step 1: (30 minutes) Google Slideshow We will begin the class by going over a google slideshow. We will first ask the question, what is diversity? Students will then be able to explain what they think diversity is. Then we will explain what diversity is and the students will then watch a short clip to further explain what diversity is and how it is shown throughout daily life. (Clip is just over 2 minutes) We will go through the google slideshow and look at artist, JR to help the students connect to diversity as well as images from Freedom Summer, so students can understand why diversity is important. Since the students will be making masks on day 2, they will also have the opportunity to look at masks from other cultures. This will show them ideas of what they can do to theirs while also seeing how other cultures represent who they are. For homework, students should brainstorm some ideas that make them diverse. Why it would make them diverse, and why it is important to them. They should also bring in a drawing/ sketch of what they would want their mask to look like so they have an idea of the outcome that they want.

Step 2: (10 minute discussion to wrap up everything taught today.) After the slideshow the teacher should ask questions like “how does the artist we looked at represent diversity?” and “why is diversity important to represent through artwork?” 

Step 3: (last 5 minutes) Explain that next class they will be making their own mask to celebrate diversity. Children will also use this time to clean up. This includes any scrap pieces of paper that was cut up, glue sticks/ bottles, markers, pipe cleaners, other loose materials put back in their respectful storage containers. They would also be responsible for wiping off the tables at the end of the lesson, just incase glue got on them.

Day 2: 

Before class begins spend about 10 minutes setting up materials before class starts. We will have the masks made and sitting on the tables for the students along with materials they will use to decorate. 

Step 1: (5 minutes) We will do a quick review over diversity and what we went over the day before. This will cover the images we looked at that connect to diversity and what diversity is. During this time we will also show the students our example of our masks. This way they can also see what they will be doing not just told what to do. 

Step 2: (30 minutes) During this time is when the students will began to decorate their mask to depict what diversity is to them and what makes them diverse. As the students begin their mask we will walk around the room and talk to them about diversity to get their minds thinking of things they could add to their masks. Example of ideas would be their culture, religion, beliefs, physical characteristics. Do they wear glasses or do you wear some sort of headdress or hat for their religion? Questions we would ask as they worked would be, Do you want to incorporate hair on your mask? What color or shape are your eyes?

Guidelines: (these materials should be included on your mask) 

  • Students have to use at least one colored piece of construction paper to represent how they identify themselves.
  • This could be by their favorite color, their nation’s flag colors to show where they are from, school colors, they could make it multi-colored. They are just a few ideas.

Must use up to four different materials while creating the masks. There are an assortment of materials available to you on the table. 

Step 3: (5 minutes) After they have had time to work on their mask we would like for the students to talk a little bit about their mask. Why did they choose to use the materials they did and how their mask represents diversity to them?

Step 4: (last 5 minutes) Clean up.


  • Your mask represents diversity through your own artistic expression that is influenced through your culture. (2PE)
  • You applied your own personal life to produce a piece of artwork. (2RE)
  • You communicated understanding of diversity through your mask. (4PR)
  • Your mask clearly represents your cultural diversity by expressing your religion, beliefs, food, language, or anything else that influences your culture and self. (SS Content Standard 10)

Materials and Preparation: 

  • Pre-made cardboard masks for each student. Various sizes and shapes could bring to the diversity aspect. (Make extra just in case needed.) 
  • Variety of colored construction paper
  • Markers
  • Feathers
  • Fuzzy pipe cleaners
  • Pom Pom balls 
  • Beads
  • Jewels
  • Yarn
  • Scissors
  • Ribbon
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Glue bottles and glue sticks


  • Ohio Visual art standards: This provides information on the art standards for Ohio.
  • Ohio’s New Learning Standard: This provides information on the social studies standards for Ohio.
  • Masks from other cultures: This is a great tool used to show variety in masks and give background information on them. This website also goes into detail about the diverse culture around the world.
  • Youtube clip about diversity: This is a short clip made for young students in elementary. It is a great video that teaches children about diversity.
  • Mississippi Freedom Summer Archive: Here you can find any photo, audio, or video clip that you would need to provide in the classroom about the Mississippi Freedom Summer movement at Western College in Oxford, Ohio.