This is a fun and relatively simple craft project to do with preschool age children. After the adult cuts the cardboard, the children can do much of the rest.
- Sturdy cardboard, at least 8 ½ x 11 inches
- Yarn, black or dark brown
- Felt, yellow, red, gray, brown
- Adult and child scissors
- Markers, pens or pencils
Take your cardboard and adult scissors. Look at the shape of the gorilla mask in the picture of the back of the mask. You can draw the outline on your cardboard. The mask that my son and I made measures about 11 inches from the top of the head to the bottom of the chin, and about 8 ½ inches from cheek to cheek. (Of course, you can make whatever size suits you!) While cutting out the mask, pay careful attention to the details such as the ears, and the indent at the top of the chimp’s head, and the cheeks sticking out.
You, the adult, must also take care of cutting the eye holes in the cardboard mask. I suggest holding the mask up to the child’s face and marking with a pen or pencil where the eye holes will best fit.
Now the real fun begins! For our mask, my son and I chose to use yellow felt for the face. I am sure that beige, dark brown, gray or even black would look equally realistic.
It’s best to draw the shape of the face onto the felt before cutting. As you can see from the photograph, the cheeks of the felt are sunken in, just the opposite of the puffed out cardboard cheeks. The felt face is also smaller than the cardboard mask. (This is so the child can later glue yarn directly onto the cardboard.) Position the felt on the cardboard, and when satisfied, mark where the eye holes need to be in the felt. Once you have cut out the eye holes, the child can glue the felt in place.
Choose another piece of felt and draw two ovals to fit over the chimpanzee’s ears. Cut out the two ovals of felt and glue onto the ears. As you can see from the picture, we chose to make light grey ears.
You will also need to cut two small felt circles for nostrils, and a felt smile. Our chimp’s nostrils are dark brown, and his smile is red.
When all of the felt is glued in place, you can give the child a skein of yarn and child-safe scissors (no running with them!) We chose black yarn, and my son worked hard at cutting small strips of yarn and gluing them around the felt face directly onto the cardboard. The final effect is the same furry fuzziness of a real chimpanzee!
Feel free to experiment with different colors for different effects, and smaller or larger mask sizes may suit different children.
My son greatly preferred to hold his mask in front of his face, but some children do like to be able to wear the mask and have both hands free. If your child would like to wear the mask, there are two ways to do it.
First, cut two small holes at either side of the chimp’s head. Before you do this, hold the completed mask up to your child’s face so you can see about where your child’s ears are behind the mask. Mark these spots with a pencil and cut the two small holes there.
You can take two additional lengths of yarn and tie an end of each piece around the two holes on the side of the chimp’s head. These two pieces of yarn can then be tied behind the child’s head when s/he wears the mask.
Another way to make the mask wearable is to buy elastic in the Notions department (where you buy thread, needles, and other sewing items.) The elastic needs to be attached to the back sides of the chimpanzee’s head, which would probably best be done with a strong needle and plastic coated thread.
In any case, have fun. I hope you and you child enjoy playing with your mask as much as you enjoy making it!