When students see the drama “Masks” on a REAP retreat, they often desire to take down their own masks and “get real”. In order to do so, they must first recognize areas in their life where masks are present. This activity is an opportunity to do just that!
This activity will encourage each student to:
- Recognize the masks he/she might wear
- Recognize the masks that others put upon him/her
- View other students with more compassion in regards to the masks they wear
- Paper plates (Styrofoam will not work) and markers
- Optional: magazines, scissors, glue
Before beginning, remind students of the drama “Masks” presented on their REAP retreat. Explain to students how valuable honesty and vulnerability will be during this activity, keeping in mind that we all struggle with wearing masks; this is a normal part of life and they are not alone! As the teacher, it can be helpful to create your own mask to share with students ahead of time. This can include current masks, or masks you wore when you were your students’ age. If you can be vulnerable at this time, it is much more likely that your students will follow suit and the masks they create will be deeper and more meaningful.
Students will use the provided materials (markers, magazine cut-outs, etc.) to decorate a mask (paper plate) that describes them individually.
The outside of the paper plate represents what people see/what we believe they see:
- How do you want people to view you (your “reputation”)?
- How do people label you?
The inside of the paper plate includes who we really are:
- What are some things that you value, that others may not know?
- What are some of your passions?
The mask does not necessarily have to include facial features (though it can if students would like) – students should feel free to draw and/or write, covering both sides of their mask
- Allow students about 20-25 minutes to complete their mask. As a conclusion, encourage students to share their masks in a small group or with the class.
- It is the suggestion of the REAP Team that this activity be done as a retreat follow up and not for a grade. This will encourage students to be more open/honest while creating their masks.
- Suggestion: it could be powerful to offer students the opportunity to turn in their masks, and then you can save them and give them back at the end of the school year (or end of high school, depending on what grade they’re in). Doing this could give them a chance to see how much they’ve grown/changed.
Give students some time to work independently. If you or your students are struggling with what to include, moving through these reflection questions can be helpful!
Outside of the mask:
- What image/front do you try to portray? Do you try to be: tough, funny, cool, trendy, girly, mean, stupid, strong, good at sports etc.?
- How have you been labeled by others? How do your classmates, friends, teachers, parents, siblings, extended family view you? Do they think you are a: nerd, jock, prep, stuck-up, goth, druggie, smart, slut, prude, blonde, goody two-shoes, quiet one, leader, jokester, trouble-maker, perfect etc.?
- Where do you live or go to school? Are you in a wealthier or poorer part of town? Does your school/community/parish have a certain reputation?
- What do people know about what you do? What sports do you play or what activities do you do after school? What are some of your strengths? Weaknesses? (soccer, piano, reading, dancing, video games, etc.)
- What do people think they know about your life? Do they think you: have the perfect family? Are strong in faith? Are happy all the time?
Inside of the mask:
- What is your personality really like? How do you act when you feel the most comfortable? Are you: fun, talkative, opinionated, quiet, goofy, serious, etc.?
- What are some things you really love to do that not everyone knows about? Do you: listen to oldies music, ride horses, swim, sing Disney songs, love Lord of the Rings, play/dislike a certain sport, read, write, love certain movies, enjoy musicals etc.?
- What is your life really like behind closed doors? Do you: have family struggles, question/misunderstand parts of the faith, feel unhappy sometimes, worry about the future, get nervous about things, etc.?
- This is an opportunity to be honest about the things that most people may not know about us – past experiences that have formed us, family history, hobbies, interests, hopes, feelings and dreams.
Additional follow-up activities
- Discussion Questions:
- How can we make the outside of our masks reflect what on the inside?
- What is holding you back from showing the people in your life what’s on the inside of your mask?
- Writing personal “mission statements”
- How can I start to remove the masks in my life?
- What words do I strive to live by?
- Media evaluation
- Have students work independently or in groups to evaluate the presence of masks in popular movies or TV shows (Grease, The Office, or Mean Girls for example)
- Create a project/presentation that tells about the use of “masks” in the media. Ideas for projects include but are not limited to:
- Google Slides
- Video clips (pre-approve before showing to the whole class, of course)
Here is an example of both the front and back of REAP Team member Lara’s mask, and a brief explanation of each:
The outside of my mask shows how I feel people perceive me, as well as some of what I hope people see in me. I think that people view me as someone who is fun and who is a good friend. Being a good friend is something I pride myself in, and is one thing I hope people would remember about me. A label that people often put on me is that I am very loud, and this is often viewed as a negative trait. I also think that people believe I will always say “yes” to the things they ask of me. I do find joy in serving others, however, when I was younger, I would often be labeled as a “pushover” or a “people pleaser” because of this.
The inside of my mask shows much more of who I actually am, and many of the things that I think make me “me”! I have the words ‘Catholic’ and ‘Serve the Lord’, because being Catholic is my favorite thing about myself, and I find great joy in loving Him through serving others. I also have one of my favorite quotes from St. Catherine of Siena. These words played a big part in my re-version to the faith, especially once I began to shed some of my masks. I also have a lot of plants because I love nature and being outdoors. I have the words ‘Miss Piszar’, because I used to be a teacher, and teaching is one of my greatest joys and best gifts the Lord has given me. I also have a Hungarian flag to highlight my family’s heritage, and OF COURSE a drawing of my dog, Grantley!