In a junior high Spanish class or an elementary school history class, students learn much about the times and the culture through realia, which is any tangible object from the time period. These items can spark interest and engage the students in active learning. Making a Spanish Conquistadors helmet during a unit on Columbus, Hernan Cortez or California missions would be such a creative endeavor. The Spanish Conquistador's helmet was called a morion.
Things You'll Need
- Styrofoam model head
- Plaster of Paris mix
- Plastic mixing bowl
- Mesh screen
- Aluminum foil
- Cloth strips
- White school glue
- Clear shoe wax
Set the head of the styrofoam model at the center of the table and prepare to build the helmet around the size of the head. Place a plastic mixing bowl upside down on the top of the head. This will provide the structure for the rest of the helmet. The morion had three basic features: the round core, the arched rim, and the fin-like peak at the top.
Glue a fine wire mesh, similar to front door or window screen, around the plastic bowl. Cut strips of wire screen 3 inches wide and 8 inches long. Eight strips should cover the outside of the helmet base well. Glue the mesh screen to the bowl, starting at the top third of the bowl. Work in a circular fashion downward. Extend the wire mesh about 3 inches beyond the base of the bowl.
Cut strips of white cloth and dip in plaster of Paris mix to cover the outer layer of the helmet. Continue to build up layers of thickness and round the edges to the shape of the bowl. Once the plaster is dry, paint it a metallic silver or black. Spray paint in cans used on model toy cars works well for this purpose.
The arched brim of the conquistador's helmet, which points upward both in front and back, can be made with a combination of cardboard and aluminum foil. Copy the curved design from a picture of a Morion and cut the rim from the cardboard. Make an upward crease in the cardboard on the front and back of the brim. Cover with aluminum foil and use the foil to extend the bend of the cardboard. Wrap the cardboard base around the helmet. Use the ends of the wire mesh on the base of the helmet to attach to the bottom of the cardboard rim with glue.
Create the upper crest out of cardboard as well. Cover the crest with aluminum foil and glue it to the top of the helmet with white school glue.
Add layers of plaster to even out any gaps in the exterior of the helmet and to give support to the upper crest. Paint the helmet to even out the lines between the rim and the base. Polish the helmet with shoe wax and let it dry before use in battle.