This back to school season will be different from any we’ve seen, because no one knows what the heck fall will look like regarding COVID. Let alone next week. What we do know however, is that kids will be (and should be!) wearing masks in public, whether they’re attending a school part-time or not.

So I absolutely love this mask self-portrait art project created by Cassie Stephens, an art teacher from right here in my own Tennessee school district (whoo!). She created this for her students’ first back-to-school project, and I think it’s one that every teacher in the country needs to see, to assign a similar project for their own students.

Related: Stop everything and watch Bill Nye’s super-simple explanation of how face masks protect us right now

Every art teacher needs to see this creative "behind my mask" mask self-portrait art project by teacher Cassie Stephens

The aim is to help kids reveal the fascinating, dynamic people they are behind their masks, making an uncomfortable experience for some (especially younger kids), a lot more fun and (importantly!) a lot more normalized. And it can be especially helpful for kids who are new to a classroom and haven’t had a chance to make friends yet.

All your students need is some paper, marker or crayons, and a bright, positive attitude to make this MAD-mgaazine style “lift the flap” self-portrait. And of course, a positive attitude about mask-wearing. From both you and your kids.

You can get details on how to create the Behind My Mask self-portrait project and other creative art project ideas at Cassie Stephens’s blog.