Mardi Gras — also known as Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, and Carnival — marks the last day before the beginning of Lent. Although Mardi Gras has become a widely-accepted non-religious holiday, this day traditionally marked the last day before the period of fasting and repentance (“Lent”) before Easter, which celebrates the resurrection of Jesus.
Shrove Tuesday comes from the word “shrive” which means “the confession and absolution of sin”
Traditionally, people were not allowed to eat “rich foods” like butter, meats, and oils during Lent. So, the day before Lent started, many people would indulge in the things that were not allowed during the 40-day Lent period.
The date of Mardi Gras is always 41 days before Easter, so the date varies each year.
Ready to celebrate Mardi Gras? Here are some great Mardi Gras activities to add to your homeschool lessons and celebrations.
Mardi Gras Activity Ideas
1. Learn About Mardi Gras History
Get the kiddos started with a little history of Mardi Gras from these online videos:
2. Learn About the “Mardi Gras Indians”
According to LouisianaFolkLife.org:
The “Mardi Gras Indian” tribes of New Orleans are, in fact, the oldest cultural organizations surviving from the original African tribes which were brought into New Orleans during slavery days. The tribes are particularly noted for preserving African “dress art” and musical heritage in the New World.
3. Get Free Preschool Mardi Gras Printables
If you’re looking for some FREE preschool Mardi Gras printable lessons, this pack includes sounds, counting, coloring a Mardi Gras mask and more.
4. Make a Mini King Cake
A King Cake has been described as a cross between a coffee cake and a French pastry. It is decorated in three different color icings that represent the Wise Men’s jeweled crowns when they visited baby Jesus. The colors are: purple to represent justice, green to represent faith, and gold to represent power.
Prizes like coins and beads were hidden in the King Cake. Today, a small plastic baby is hidden in the cake. Then, the person who gets the piece of cake with the baby gets to be king for the day and is supposed to host the party and make the King Cake for next year.
5. Color a Mardi Gras Crown
Grab this free Mardi Gras crown coloring sheet printable and talk about the meaning of the different colors (purple, green, yellow) of Mardi Gras.
6. Create Mardi Gras Masks
One of the most fun things about Mardi Gras is dressing up. So, have fun making your own masks!
Mardi Gras masks come in all different different decorations, show get creative!
7. Make Your Own Mardi Gras “Bead” Necklace
Beaded necklaces are a big deal at Mardi Gras. Here’s a great alternative to buying beads — making your own Mardi Gras “bead” necklace!
8. Construct a Mini Mardi Gras Float
Floats are a huge part of annual Mardi Gras parades. Watch this video about Mardi Gras World, where they make the Mardi Gras floats in New Orleans. (You can even visit there!) Then, make your own Mardi Gras inspired float using a shoebox. (Head to your local discount or party store before the project and grab some Mardi Gras themed items.)
9. Guess the Mardi Gras Item Game
This is a fun one for all ages. Make a Mardi Gras themed sensory bin, then get a blindfold and have each person see how many Mardi Gras items they can guess in 30 seconds. The person who guesses the most gets to be Mardi Gras King or Queen for the day.
10. Make a King or Queen For a Day
Everyone wants to be King or Queen for a day. Here’s a cute free Mardi Gras printable that gives you a king or queen to decorate. The kids can then write about what they would do if they were king or queen for a day.
11. Make a Mardi Gras Inspired Dish (or Meal)
Have little cooks? Make a fun New Orleans or Mardi Gras inspired dish (or even an entire meal). Here are some yummy recipes for inspiration:
12. Read Books About Mardi Gras
There are many great kids’ books about Mardi Gras. One of our favorite Mardi Gras books is Mimi’s First Mardi Gras. It takes you through what happens on the day of Mardi Gras from the eyes of little Mimi. Mimi and her family get ready for a Mardi Gras party, pick costumes, talk about food, go to a parade, count their loot and more. (Pretty awesome illustrations, too.)
Also check out these Mardi Gras books:
(There’s also a Gaston Goes to Mardi Gras Coloring Book.)
Mardi Gras Mystery (LOL Detective Club) (Volume 1)
Dishin’ Up Gumbo
Little Purple Mardi Gras Bead
The Night Before Mardi Gras
The King Cake Baby
Do you have any fun Mardi Gras crafts or traditions? Share them in the comments!
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