Social Studies Research and Practice
Volume 6, Number 1, Spring 2011
Integrating the Arts: Pre-Service Elementary Teachers Make African Masks of Six Cultures
Sarah E. Montgomery
Audrey C. Rule
University of Northern Iowa
This paper provides a model of a scaffolded major project from an arts-integrated social studies curriculum unit. The unit involved an extended collaboration between instructors and pre-service teachers of three social studies methods classes, with the elementary teachers and students of three primary classes at a university laboratory school who were participating in an integrated unit on Africa. Pre-service teachers first created masks of six distinct African cultures (Bembe, Yoruba, Maasai, Bamana, Luba, and Chokwe) in their university methods class and then supported primary students creating similar masks during a practicum experience. Through making these masks and other unit activities, the pre-service teachers taught students about the diverse cultures, customs, and geographical settings of several African ethnic groups. Although arts-integration was challenging for pre-service teachers, as most lacked experience with three-dimensional papier-mâché construction, the planning talent of the Talents Unlimited model provided a framework to scaffold the complex work. A detailed mask-making plan created by pre-service teachers based on this framework is provided for readers interested in replicating the project, along with photographs and written descriptions of the completed African masks.