These two High School Projects double as visual aide ideas for teaching "The Masque of the Red Death." Have your students create and decorate masks and then do an activity to understand the symbolism of the seven rooms.
If you want teaching ideas that will destroy your room and cause you to hang yourself with a Red Death mummy cloth then look elsewhere or take a day off. This mask project is an excellent way to get students engaged in the lesson.
Make or download a mask template. Make sure you have at least one for each student and some extras for "that" kid who will mess up after 14 seconds. Cardstock works well. Paper is less expensive, won't jam the copier causing angry teachers to assault you in the halls because they can't make copies for the next month, and is easier to crumble up and throw at people.
- Decorate it.
- Punch a small hole on each side.
- Pull some string through.
- Tie it to your face.
Read the story (Go here for a quick summary).
- Dress up as the Red Death and kill everybody at the end of the story (optional).
Hint: A well organized teacher can pull this off without much angst. A not well organized teacher will start counting down days until retirement after doing this activity. The first time you do it, make a mask yourself, or better yet, find a reliable student to make one for you and get all the supplies ready. If you make a mask and decide it's not worth the effort to have the class do it then just pretend it was a visual aide idea for "The Masque of the Red Death" and wear the mask while your students read silently and you take a nap.
Prince Prospero's Seven Rooms
Many students are curious about Prince Prospero's seven rooms. Here's a great way to teach on the symbolism of the rooms.
Read William Shakespeare's "Seven Ages of Man" from As You Like It.
- Discuss the allegorical implications of Prospero's seven rooms and their symbolic nature.
Discuss the "Seven Deadly Sins" and which color might represent each of the sins (For an in depth look at color symbolism in "The Masque of the Red Death" and the seven rooms in "The Masque of the Red Death," check out the "Masque of the Red Death" study guide).
- Command your student aide to fetch 14 large slices of butcher paper from the school's supply room. There should be two of the following colors: blue, purple, green, orange, white, violet, and black (you may have to substitute a color or two).
- Post seven large slices of butcher paper (one of each color) on opposite sides of the room.
- Divide the total number of students in your class by 12 and form groups.
- Send each group to a specific slice of butcher paper. One side of the room will draw or decorate their butcher paper based on the "Seven Ages of Man." The other side of the room will draw and decorate their butcher paper based on the seven deadly sins (be careful). You can use old magazines and newspapers if you wish.
- Any student who approaches the black paper will be killed instantly (optional).
- Discuss their artwork as a class.
Feel free to share other visual aide ideas for "The Masque of the Red Death" or other literary high school projects you've pulled off with success.