Design your own Day of the Dead mask and celebrate Día de Muertos with this super fun and easy craft for kids! All you need is an ordinary paper plate and some markers, and you can make one of these bright and colourful calavera (skull) masks.
Día de los Muertos is a celebration of life (read more about the holiday below!) and these sugar skull paper plate masks are a great way for kids to learn about the Mexican holiday. This creative craft is quick, low-mess, and also perfect for a Halloween costume!
This post contains affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something we may earn a small commission which helps us run this website.
How to Make a Day of the Dead Mask
Check Out The Video Tutorial:
Step 1: Find what you need
- Gather your supplies and materials. We used 9 inch wide paper plates.
Step 2: Draw and cut out the calavera details
- Fold your paper plate in half, but don't press down on the fold.Simply crease the top and bottom lightly to mark the center of the plate.
- Open the plate back up and, using the fold marks as a guide, lightly draw a line in pencil down the plate's center.
- Draw four teeth lines, two on each side of the center line, along the bottom edge of the plate.Then add the sides of the jaw on either side of the teeth lines. To do this, start from the center circle and draw down to the edge of the plate.Now draw cheeks starting from the top of the jaw line. Curve the cheeks out a bit and then end them back at the center circle.
- Draw two large oval eyes on either side of the center line. Then add an upside-down heart in the center for the nose.
- Use a craft knife to cut out the eyes and nose. An adult should do this step.
Step 3: Design your Day of the Dead mask
- Now grab your markers and start making a colourful design on your sugar skull mask!Use the round center of the plate as a guide for the top part of the mask. We began with a dot outline around the edge.
- As you decorate your mask, try to add symmetry. Draw the same outline on both eyes and add designs to the center that are identical on each side.
- Continue using all kinds of bright colours and symbols to decorate your mask.
- Once you're happy with the look of your mask, use a black marker to cover the pencil teeth lines.
- Add dimension and glimmer to your Day of the Dead mask with rhinestone stickers. Try to be symmetrical with your placement of these as well!
Step 4: Cut out the mask and add the handle
- Once your mask design is finished, cut out the skull shape from the rest of the paper plate.
- Erase any remaining pencil marks on the mask.
- Turn the mask over and tape a straw or popsicle stick to the bottom of the mask. This lets you hold the mask up to your face.
- Your Day of the Dead mask is complete!
- Remember that Day of the Dead masks are usually symmetrical — or the same on both sides.
- Draw lightly with pencil first if you want to plan out a sugar skull design before colouring it with markers.
What is the Day of the Dead?
The Day of the Dead, officially known as Día de Muertos, is a Mexican holiday that is celebrated on November 1 and 2. This is a celebration that honours and remembers family members and loved ones who have passed away.
Día de los Muertos is a happy holiday, where death is seen as a joyous occasion. And the days are a celebration of life with music and food, where families create altars called ofrendas (offerings) and bring gifts to graveyards.
What is a sugar skull?
Sugar skulls started out as decorated treats made from a type of sugar paste. This paste was put into a mold shaped like a skull, and then decorated with bright colours, each skull representing a specific person.
Sugar skulls were initially created as gifts for children to eat, but they can also be placed on an ofrenda or gravestone. Sometimes sugar skulls are made out of other materials, like clay or chocolate.
Now sugar skulls are represented in many different ways, from makeup or face paint, to tattoos, jewelry, and masks.
Do I have to use a paper plate?
No, you can also cut your Día de Muertos sugar skull mask from a piece of cardstock or cardboard. Then draw the calavera freehand, or print off a template and trace it to get the right shape.
Can I wear my Day of the Dead mask instead of holding it?
Yes, you can wear your mask without holding it. To do this, simply use a hole punch to make holes on either side of the mask. Then string thin elastic cord or ribbon through the holes and tie it on.
What type of designs are best for my Day of the Dead mask?
Since the Day of the Dead commemorates deceased loved ones, trying adding details that remind you of family and friends that are gone. Use their favourite colour, or a shape that reminds you of something they used to wear or have in their house.
Sugar skull masks feature bright colours and happy patterns. Add lines, dots, water droplet shapes, swirls, and squiggly lines. There’s no wrong way to decorate your Day of the Dead mask, but try to fill up as much space as possible!
How can I add flowers to my Day of the Dead mask?
Día de los Muertos is associated with marigolds, so flowers are a great element to add to your mask! They also represent life and beauty, which is perfect for this holiday. You can draw flowers as part of your mask design, like we did for some of ours.
Or you can also add a 3D element to the mask with fake flowers! You can buy fabric flowers, paper flowers, or even make your own flowers from crepe paper. Attach them to the top of the calavera, like a flower crown, with hot glue — or use tacky glue and wait for it to dry.
Make your own DIY Day of the Dead masks! These happy and colourful paper plate skull masks are a quick and easy kids craft. It’s such a fun and creative way to celebrate Día de Muertos!
Here’s even more fun craft ideas:
Our book Low-Mess Crafts for Kids is loaded with 72 fun and simple craft ideas for kids! The projects are fun, easy and most importantly low-mess, so the clean up is simple!