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How to make a simple WW2 gas mask. Childrens evacuation, childs Mickey Mouse gas mask, world war 2.

Updated on October 27, 2013

Within primary school and secondary school children learn about WW2. A great and fun lesson would be to make a gas mask, or even for parents with a little homework.

Depending on the ability of your class depends on how detailed the instructions you will need, but below are what you need to have a go yourself so you know exactly what you need to show the children.

The next step is to give your children the instructions and teach them how to make it themselves. It is an easy mask to make so even younger children can have a go or those of lower ability.

What you will need

  • 3 lots of A4 pieces of card (Colour is up to you but I chose yellow)
  • 1 x Toilet roll holder
  • Scissors
  • Sellotape or masking tape
  • Anything you need to decorate it.

The first thing you need to make is a cylinder:

  1. First you need to take one A4 piece of card.
  2. This piece should be folded in half along the shortest side of the rectangle.
  3. Cut along this fold to create a long thin rectangle.
  4. keep the other piece to finish off the cylinder in a bit.
  5. Mark a faint line, 1cm in from each of the narrow edges.
  6. Take one of these faint lines and cut halfway down.
  7. The other should be cut half way up! So they are the opposite to each other.
  8. When this is done fold the card around to make a cylinder shape. The two slits should be able to slot together, allowing it to hold without any further securing.
  9. To make it more secure though, a little tape in the inside of the cylinder over the top of the slits will secure it a lot better.

NOTE: If you are using this cylinder to draw around for the next part then skip part 9 above.

The end of the cylinder:

  1. On the other half of the card that you put to one side, draw a circle which is a little larger than the cylinder you have just made.
  2. I found that drawing around a sellotape would be the ideal size for this, but as long as it is around 1cm bigger than the cylinder you have made then this allows you to make the flaps to secure it.
  3. Cut it out.
  4. Once this is done you need to cut some tabs onto it. This should be done by cutting the circumpherence of the circle in towards the centre around 1cm in length.

NOTE: They do not have to be too accurate as we are going to cover it up.

5. The circle can then be decorated for the end of the gas mask. This would be better to do it now as it needs a lot of detail and if you are going to try to do this when it is made, you could find the cylinder collapse.

6. The flaps then need to be turned in.

7. Using masking tape, tape over the flaps of the end of the cylinder.

For the goggles:

  1. This is where the toilet roll holder come in. First you should flatten them on the table.
  2. Next you need to cut it into three equal parts. You only need two of these but if you are doing this as a class then the off cuts can be given to the students who haven't done this themselves so there is no waste.
  3. They should then be opened back up into cylinder shapes.
  4. Once you have two cylinders the same size you should cut flaps into the tops. This needs to be done by cutting down 1cm from the top.
  5. The flaps should then be folded out, ready to be secured to the mask.

Extension: You could get some tracing paper and use this for the lenses of the goggles, but this would stop children seeing out of it well.

For the mask:

  1. You now need the third sheet of card. Place it landscape on the table.
  2. This should be folded in half again but along the longest side this time, to form a rectangle as if you were making a birthday card.
  3. Leave it in the portrait position with the folded edge on the left.
  4. Starting two thirds of the way down on that folded edge you need to draw a half a heart shape. So, curve your line towards the top of the card before working your way down to the bottom left hand corner.
  5. Cut this half a heart shape out and open the card to reveal the full heart shape.

Check out the super scary episode in WW2 - The empty child

For the nose piece:

  1. This is the easy part. Simply draw out the nose shape on a spare piece of card first. Make sure you have a small flat at the end around 1cm by 1cm.
  2. Then cut it out.

To put the mask together:

  1. The easiest place to start is to start cutting the mask to where you need the goggles and cylinder to go.
  2. Place the goggles in the eye position and draw around the outside of them.
  3. Then you need to cut out these circles. To do this you should push a pair of scissors into the centre of the circle making a hole. You can then put one side of the scissors through the hole and cut around the circle.
  4. Check that the toilet rolls fit into the circles ok and then place to the side until you are ready to secure everything.

5. Once this is done you should place the cylinder at the bottom of the mask, making sure this is around the where the child's mouth would go.

6. Then cut this out so you have the bottom of the heart missing.

7. Then you can start to secure everything down - push the googles through the holes with the flaps on the back of the mask. Then secure the flaps down with sellotape.

8. Then the cylinder should be secured into place. This can be done using a series of flaps which could be cut into the cylinder like that of the goggles and secured down using sellotape. Alternatively, masking tape could be used around the joint. Masking tape should be used if you are securing anything down to the front so you can decorate on top of this, where sellotape would make this impossible, or at least very hard.

9. The last part is to secure the nose. This can be done by masking tape down the flap you have made or could just glue it down.

I may have forgotten to put the nose piece on my model but when we made the Mickey Mouse gas mask, we didn't then.

A child's gas mask

The pictures above is of a child's gas mask. It was called a mickey mouse mask to try and make it more popular for children. The design was basically the same however, it was red in colour, again to make it seem a little better for children.

It was still uncomfortable and stuffy to wear but maybe you could get your class to design their own masks, trying to make it seem nicer for children to wear.

I have seen gas masks that look like a Darth Vadar mask as the picture below, maybe if you have star war fans they could design their like this - it would be a simple adjustment to the nose piece to do and a very simple black paint job.

Which lesson idea do you think you are more likely to use?

See results

Lesson ideas for your mask

A great first lesson would be to make the gas mask. There are many ways you can do this but when you have made it what do you do then?

Here are a few lesson ideas that you might want to try:

Lesson idea 1:

  • It could be as simple as making the mask as part of following instructions - a literacy lesson.
  • They could even come up with their own instructions as they go along after you have described them to the students.
  • This set of instructions and the finished gas masks can be used for a brilliant display then.

Lesson idea 2:

  • Use this as a basis for homework. Get the children to research what gas masks looked like in WW2.
  • They can then use this as a basis for lesson 3.

Lesson idea 3:

  • Once the mask is finished then you could use an art lesson to decorate it.
  • This can be done in a number of ways. The easiest way is to model how they could decorate it in a certain way and then they have a go at it.
  • Another way is to set out tables of resources and let the children have a go at creating what they have researched.

Note: A great way to make paint look old is to paint it and then when it is dry add a thin layer of glue and paint onto it again. The thinner the coat the smaller the cracks will become. The paint then cracks naturally which produces a good old look.

Lesson idea 4:

  • An easy thing to do is to use it as a prop in a drama activity. Maybe getting them to act out a short scene but then use freezeframe to see how their character would be feeling.
  • This can then be used to aid their writing of such a scene.

Lesson idea 5:

  • Use this for a DT lesson. They can have a go at designing and creating a gas mask box for their model.
  1. They should look at things like instructions of how to put a gas mask on.
  2. Design of the box so it is easy to carry and open but still secure enough so it can carry the mask well.

Lesson Idea 6:

  • Use it for a literacy lesson - get the children to wear the masks for the start of the lesson and play sounds from the war like air raid sirens, bombs going off. If you can do this in the dark then this would add to the drama.
  • The second half of the lesson could be them noting down ideas of how they felt when this was happening. What they thought and what they could see during this time.
  • Next lesson they could write a story of this experience using this experience.

This is a nice little video you could use while they wear their gas mask to create feelings


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    • Romanian profile image


      5 years ago from Oradea, Romania

      It's great to teach kids at school things like these. When I was a child, our history class was boring.

    • help for teachers profile imageAUTHOR

      help for teachers 

      6 years ago from England

      Remember it is a very simple version as I taught young children on how to make it and needed something they could make easily in a few lessons.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      not that amazing but still great


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