I have now taught this project to both fifth and sixth graders and it turned out to be a great success both times!
Students began by researching Ancient Egypt in books I checked out from the library and then they shared their findings with the class. We started out broad with the simple question of what seemed interesting, and then brought the focus in to mummies and sarcophagi.
Each student designed two different masks on paper and then chose their favorite design to re-create in plaster. I am lucky to have a class set of plastic molds that the students are able to use for this project, although their own faces would be just as useful.
We took an entire class to create the masks out of strips of plaster gauze and then spent the next several weeks decorating the masks with paint, glitter, sequins, etc. to make them appear Egyptian.
Finally, each student created a background to glue their mask to, so that it could be easily mounted on a wall.