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Washington Partners with Infinity for Egyptian Masks

Washington Middle School sixth graders in Lisa Peterson, Cathy Pitts Shane Knapp, Joel Sopak and Jennifer Lachajczyk’s classes, not only learned about Ancient Civilizations, but also used their creativity to make Egyptian Death Masks with Renee Boardman, Infinity Visual and Performing Arts teaching artist.

“Several years ago, I had an idea for an art project in ELA when we started the modules,” said Mrs. Peterson. “I had seen many of the projects done throughout the district in cooperation with the Arts Council.  I contacted them for more information and we coordinated a project.  Renee was the artist who came in, and we have worked together since then.  We are lucky to continue the projects with Infinity Visual and Performing Arts and thank Shane Hawkins who handles helping us get it into the schools.”

The sixth grade classes begin with the river civilizations: Mesopotamia, Egypt, India, and China.  Then, they move to Ancient Greece and Rome.  Students need to be able, in all civilizations, to explain the class structure and how religion shapes daily life.  The students are always very intrigued by the concept of mummification, which ties in to the religious beliefs, so it was a natural hook for student engagement.  Mrs. Boardman and Mrs. Peterson discussed different artistic possibilities involving mummies. As Mrs. Boardman had already created masks in the elementary schools, she felt adjustments could be made for Ancient Egypt.

Students were able to research some of the people they talked about during the unit to see what the masks on their mummies looked like.  Students were excited to verbalize to their peers why they had selected certain features for their masks. Research has shown that allowing student choice is linked to increases in effort and performance. Plus, they love to get their hands messy and make it "their own."

“It is fun because we get to experience, firsthand, something we are learning about in class,” said Washington Middle School sixth grader, Kianysha Torres. “I never knew how the Ancient Egyptians dressed their dead, especially the royalty like kings who had beautiful masks made of gold. It has been a really great project.”