Mardi Gras is a carnival celebration that takes place between the Epiphany and Shrove Tuesday. The name of the carnival is French for ‘Fat Tuesday’ and is related to the tradition of eating fatty foods before the fasting of the Lenten season. Mardi Gras is celebrated in various countries worldwide, and each has its own way of celebrating the events.
While in some countries, the celebrations focus on food, other countries celebrate with parades, music, and costumes. In the United States, some of the most famous Mardi Gras celebrations are held in New Orleans, where the first Mardi Gras parade occurred in 1837. It is a fascinating event that children often find interesting, so are there any Mardi Gras activities for kids you can enjoy together as a family? Here are some ideas for 20 Awesome Mardi Gras activities for kids for you to try.
20. Write a Newspaper Article About a Mardi Gras Event
If you want to cover literacy in your Mardi Gras activities, then a fun way to do so is to ask your child to write a newspaper article about a Mardi Gras event. Get them to imagine they are writing coverage of the event for a local newspaper to let readers know about the celebration’s highlights and anything exciting or unusual that happened on the day. If you attend an event, your child can use their personal experience as a basis for the report, and they can imagine what happened if you did not attend an event.
19. Act Out a Mardi Gras Scene
Drama is an excellent way of using creativity to understand a subject better. Use Mardi Gras as the inspiration to write or act out a scene or short play with your kids that focus on the celebrations. If you have also made masks or costumes as activities, you can use them in a drama performance that your children can put on for friends and family.
18. Literacy Mardi Gras Activities for Kids
Creativity is evident in Mardi Gras celebrations, and there are many ways a child can creatively express themselves, including writing. One literacy Mardi Gras activity for kids to consider is a creative writing exercise that uses the event as the inspiration, such as a story or a poem. Similarly, artistic children may prefer to do a creative writing exercise in the form of a comic strip.
17. Choreograph a Mardi Gras Dance
Dancing is an activity associated with Mardi Gras celebrations. If you want to enjoy a fun activity with your child that has elements of fitness, then choreographing a dance routine together is a fantastic way to get your child active in an entertaining way. Watch some dance routines from a parade online to inspire you. You can combine the dance activity with one of the music or drama activity suggestions on this list.
16. Play Mardi Gras Games for Kids
All children love playing games, and they can become an educational activity while having lots of fun. There are many games that you can play with a Mardi Gras theme. Teaching Expertise recommends playing the forbidden word bead game. Beads are an item associated with Mardi Gras as they feature prominently in the carnival costumes. Give each person a string of beads and two or three words that they are not allowed to use in the conversation. Choose Mardi Gras-themed words, such as carnival or masks, and then begin a conversation about the event. Each time a player notices another player using one of the forbidden words, they can take a bead from them and add it to their string. The winner is the player with the most beads at the end of the game.
15. Make Some Homemade Instruments
Music is a big part of the Fat Tuesday celebrations in many countries, and you can reflect this in the activities you complete with your kids. Kids Activities suggests making some homemade instruments. Furthermore, here is no need to go out buying expensive instruments, as there are some you can make at home. Adding things inside empty plastic containers make excellent shakers and maracas, and the noise they make will depend on what you add. Some suggestions for things to put in your bottles are rice, dried pasta, dried pulses, and coins. Make lots of noise with your homemade instruments to carnival music.
14. Research the Religious Relevance of Mardi Gras
Although Mardi Gras is now associated with music, color, celebrations, food, and dance, the event’s origins are based on religion. Furthermore, you can help your child research the religious significance of the event and look at the different ways the religious aspect of the celebrations is reflected worldwide.
13. Learn About International Mardi Gras Celebrations
Mardi Gras is often associated with the United States, especially in Louisiana. However, many other countries celebrate the event, including Italy, Sweden, Germany, the Czech Republic, France, and Senegal. The UK also celebrates the event, but it is called Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day. However, learn more with your child about how the different countries celebrate Mardi Gras and compare the similarities and differences in the traditions.
12. Dress Up and Have a Home Parade
Kids often love to dress up, and Mardi Gras is the perfect excuse to don a costume and enjoy a parade at home as a family. Put on some music and set off around the house or garden before enjoying some more of your themed activities. However, if you do not want to make your own outfits from scratch, you can adapt old clothes or buy something online that you can reuse for costume parties.
11. Design a Mardi Gras Float
In countries that celebrate with a parade, many people decorate vehicles for people to travel on in their costumes, and these are known as floats. An easy art and design project for your children is designing a float. However, this is predominantly an arts and crafts activity. You can also add educational elements relating to science and engineering by asking them to consider weather-resistant materials.
10. Complete Mardi Gras Fact Sheet Activities for Kids
Homeschoolers may want to set educational activities rather than things to do with kids for fun and entertainment. A simple educational activity is to print off some fact sheets about Mardi Gras, as the event has a long and fascinating history. After reading through the fact sheet and completing any associated activities, you can set a quick quiz for your children to add an element of competitive fun and reinforce learning.
9. Listen to or Play Jazz Music
Music is one of the most notable features of a Mardi Gras parade or festival in many locations. In New Orleans, the music played is often jazz, which is a music genre associated with the city. Listening to, playing, or learning about jazz music and artists known for this music genre is something you can do to celebrate Mardi Gras. Musically talented children may also choose to write or perform their own jazz pieces.
8. Attend a Mardi Gras Event Near You
One of the most obvious and enjoyable Mardi Gras activities is to attend your nearest event, as the events are usually colorful, vibrant, and exciting. Check out what is on within traveling distance of your home and get involved in any way you can, even if that simply means spectating from the sidelines. There is a real party atmosphere at these events, and it is an amazing experience.
7. Watch Mardi Gras Parades on the Television
If you are not lucky enough to live near a location that celebrates Mardi Gras, it does not mean you cannot experience the joy of watching these events with your children. Many parades are televised, so you can sit and watch the procession with your family. To make watching the processions more celebratory, dress up for the occasion or eat Mardi Gras food while you are watching. You can also access footage of some events online.
6. Read Children’s Books About Mardi Gras
There are some fantastic books for children about Mardi Gras that you can read to younger children, and also some books with this theme that are suitable for older children to read themselves. Some examples of children’s books include Mimi’s First Mardi Gras by Alice Couvillon, Dinosaur Mardi Gras by Dianne de Las Casas, Delphine Denise and the Mardi Gras Prize by Brittany Mazique, and The Little Purple Mardi Gras Bead by John Paquette and Julie Rowley.
5. Mardi Gras Activities for Kids Involving Food
In the United States, the most typical foods associated with Mardi Gras are Southern and Cajun foods. Cooking some food will add to the celebratory feel, and it is an activity you can enjoy with your child. Some typical dishes include jambalaya, shrimp and grits, gumbo, fried chicken, po boys, and dirty rice. Some sweet options include Mardi Gras cakes and donuts. Those who are not fans of Southern or Cajun cuisines might prefer to research and cook some of the dishes traditionally eaten in other countries that celebrate Mardi Gras. For example, people in the UK eat pancakes on what they call Shrove Tuesday, while People in the Czech Republic dine on a meat feast and Swedish people eat fastlagsbullar, a sweet roll that is also known as Semla.
4. Play Cajun Music
While many people associate jazz music with the Mardi Gras, the event is also linked to Cajun music in the United States. You can play Cajun music and dance with your children or help them to learn more about this music genre. Alternatively, you can learn about the history of Cajun music, which is a style of music with French and African origins that is part of the culture of the French-speaking Acadians of Canada and Louisiana.
3. Learn About the Event’s Origins
Mardi Gras has a long history, and there are many facts about this celebration that people do not know. It is interesting to do some research with your children about the event. Ask why it is celebrated and about different traditions. Ask the cultural and religious significance, and when, why, and how it is celebrated in different locations. You can adapt the amount and type of research you do according to the age of your children. However, you can add other activities to help support their education or to make their learning more fun.
2. Design a Mardi Gras Costume
One thing for which Mardi Gras is famous for is the costumes, which are vibrant, flamboyant, and celebratory. Purple, green, and gold are the colors of the event. Although, a rainbow of colors is visible in the costumes worn in the lively carnivals. The costumes are often glittery with beads, metallic fabrics, and feathers. A creative activity that you and your children can undertake together is designing Mardi Gras costumes. If you have fabric and other materials available, then you can even have a go at making the costumes together.
1. Make a Mardi Gras Mask
When people think of Mardi Gras, masks are often one of the first images that will pop into their heads. Many people who take place in the carnivals wear masks. However, some of the spectators like to involve themselves by wearing a mask to watch the procession. The colorful and decorative masks are based on the Masquerade style and usually have an elaborate design. Making a Mardi Gras mask is one of the easiest and most fun Mardi Gras activities for kids. Homeschool Super Freak recommends drawing the outline on cardboard or a paper plate before cutting out the mask and creating eye holes. Use paint, felt tips, or colored pencils to add color to the mask. Finally, adorn it with the materials of your choice, such as feathers, beads, sequins, and glitter.