- paper plates
- rt materials (paint, feathers, and so on)
- craft sticks or elastic thread
- recorded music (jazz, zydeco, and so on)
- ingredients to make gumbo
Objective: Children will
engage in a variety of activities to learn about the Mardi Gras (MAR-dee-grah)
festival celebrated annually in New Orleans, Louisiana.
In Advance: Show children
a map of the United States, pointing out the city of New Orleans, Louisiana.
Tell children about the special carnival that is celebrated each year
in New Orleans called Mardi Gras, which means "Fat Tuesday." (Mardi
Gras season begins January 6th and ends the day before Ash Wednesday.)
People wear costumes and beads and celebrate with a big parade, special
parties, and even a ball.
Remember: Some children
may already be accustomed to carnival traditions if they have family
from Trinidad, Brazil, Italy or New Orleans. Encourage these children
to share their knowledge of carnival celebrations.
Mardi Gras Masks
Explain to children that Mardi Gras masks are very fancy. Cut paper
plates in half. Measure the eye area on each child's mask and cut out
eyeholes. Give children brightly colored paints to paint their masks.
After the paint has dried, children can decorate their masks with feathers,
sequins, and decorative fabric trimming. Glue a craft stick to one side
of the mask or attach elastic thread to each side of the mask.
It is a tradition to wear colorful beads during Mardi Gras. Children
can make carnival beads from salt clay or self-drying pottery clay.
Provide children with a small amount of clay. Invite all of the children
to roll small pieces of clay into different shapes. Then provide children
with straws, toothpicks, and pencils to use for making the holes in
their beads. Place the finished beads on a tray to dry. Children can
use tempera paint to decorate their beads. Give children yarn to string
Cook this traditional Cajun dish to celebrate Mardi Gras.
Ingredients: 8 cups of water, 2 vegetable bullion cubes,
2 tomatoes diced, 1/2 cup corn, 1 stalk of celery diced, 1 carrot diced,
1/2 cup okra, 1 onion diced (optional), 1/2 cup converted rice. (Adults
may enjoy adding hot sauce, which is a Louisiana staple.)
Directions: Place all of the ingredients in a large pot, bring
to a boil, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes until all of the vegetables
Remember: Never let children near a pot of boiling water.
From Blues to Zydeco!
New Orleans has a rich musical history. Collect recorded music that
features the different styles of music made famous in Louisiana like
zydeco, jazz, and blues. You may want to include music by Louis Armstrong,
Clifton Cheneir, the Neville Brothers, and Dr. John. Children can create
dances and drawings or paintings while listening to music.
Family Involvement: Mardi Gras Family Ball.
Invite families to a class Mardi Gras Ball. Children can make invitations
and gumbo for the celebration. Set up a table for stringing beads and
mask making and invite parents to make Mardi Gras crafts with their
children. Play zydeco music and invite everyone to parade around the
Charlie Parker Played Be Bop by Chris Raschka
(Orchard Books, 1992; $15.95)
Going to New Orleans to Visit Weezie Anna by Mary Beth Pisano
(Quail Ridge Press, 1994; $8.95)
The Jazz of Our Street by Fatima Shaik
(Dial Books for Young Readers, 1998; $15.89)