Carnevale Capers

Carnevale Capers lesson plan

Visit Venice during Carnevale—or any time. Design striking decorative masks in a classic Italian celebratory style!

  • 1.

    Step back in time to the Venice of the 1200s. The laws in this Italian city allowed people to wear masks on many different occasions. Why did laws govern mask wearing? Well, masks allow various types of people to mingle. sks permit people to gain entry to places that would ordinarily be denied to them. And masks enable people to avoid others. Carnevale was one time when masks could be worn.

  • 2.

    What else can you discover about Carnevale and Italian mask-making? You will learn that mask makers (Maschereri) had such a busy trade that they had their own crafts guild. Find out how the early masks looked and how they were made and decorated. Many mask styles may be seen in the art of the times.

  • 3.

    Pay tribute to this venerable craft by constructing a decorative mask in the Venetian style. Form the basic shape with aluminum foil to create an armature upon which to mold your mask. Shape eyes, ears, and a nose.

  • 4.

    Cover the foil armature with colorful Crayola® Model Magic®. Mix colors of the modeling compound or blend them with white to create your own colors. For a marbled effect, stop mixing colors at a halfway point. Use a drinking straw to poke an opening in the back for hanging.

  • 5.

    Choose decorative elements for your mask. Twist chenille stems around Crayola Colored Pencils to form curls. Add colored shapes of Model Magic to the curls. Poke in decorative craft materials. Secure decorations with Crayola School Glue as needed. Air-dry


  • Students gain insight into life, society, laws, and celebrations in early Venice, Italy.
  • Students study Italian mask-making traditions.
  • Students reproduce a decorative mask in the Carnevale style.


  • Find out more about carnivals around the world including those in Trinidad, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and New Orleans. In what ways are they similar and different?
  • Much of the classic costumes and masks of Carnevale come out of the Comedia Dell’Arte tradition. Learn more about this tradition and its effect upon Carnivale style.
  • Discuss the theme of one year’s Carnevale: "To mask oneself in order to unmask." Find out the theme of the upcoming Carnevale and its meaning.
  • Study the role that Venice plays in Shakespeare’s theatre.