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Break out the gold, purple, and green! Mardi Gras is around the corner! While you might not want to do the full celebration in your house, you can take some time to have your own mini Carnival. Start with some Mardi Gras facts and history and then throw in some engaging Mardi Gras books and activities to ensure a full homeschool fun day!
History of Mardi Gras
Dating back to the Medieval time, Mardi Gras is a Christian holiday, also known as Carnival. The earliest records we have of Mardi Gras in the United States date back to around 1700. In 1718, New Orleans was established. By the 1730s, Mardi Gras was openly celebrated, though not the way we know it today with parades and street parties. At that time, celebrations were more like fancy balls and didn’t include Carnival activities until closer to the end of the 1700s. It wasn’t until the 1800s that the first Mardi Gras parades began; in 1875, Mardi Gras became an official holiday in Louisiana.
Mardi Gras Facts:
- “Mardi” is French for Tuesday, and “gras” means fat. The phrase, when translated, means Fat Tuesday.
- Mardi Gras is now synonymous with Carnival.
- King cakes are popular on Mardi Gras. Traditionally, a plastic baby is baked into the king cake. What is the significance of the baby in the king cake? Originally, the baby was used to represent the baby Jesus. Now, however, it symbolizes good luck and prosperity to the person who gets the slice containing it.
- Many people (adults and children alike) wear beaded necklaces on Mardi Gras.
- The traditional colors of Mardi Gras are gold, purple, and green. These colors represent power (gold), justice (purple), and faith (green).
- Mardi Gras is celebrated on the last day of Carnival, which is also the day before Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday begins the Christian season of Lent.
- Mardi Gras isn’t just celebrated in New Orleans. This holiday has celebrations in places like Alabama, Florida, and even Texas! However, Louisiana is the only state in which Mardi Gras is a legal holiday.
Mardi Gras Books
Books are always a great way to help bring learning alive! Give a few of these Mardi Gras books for kids a try to help your homeschoolers visualize what Mardi Gras celebrations look like in Louisiana.
Mimi’s First Mardi Gras by Alice Couvillon and Elizabeth Moore
Let the colorful illustrations of Mimi’s first Mardi Gras help bring Mardi Gras alive for your kids.
King Cake Baby by Keila Dawson
This retelling of old folklore and French phrases will keep your children interested and learning about the traditional king cakes.
Hello, New Orleans! by Martha Zschock
Explore New Orleans with the pelicans during Mardi Gras in this adorable board book.
Throw Me Something Mister by Malcolm Wright
What better way for your child to experience Mardi Gras than with a book about two kids enjoying their first Mardi Gras celebration!
Mardi Gras Activities
Take the Mardi Gras for kids day a step further with some enrichment activities! These will get your children excited about learning. You’ll find these activities so enticing, don’t be surprised to see adults joining in the fun!.
- Make a Mardi Gras sensory bin! Using shredded paper (in gold, yellow, and purple, of course), fill a shallow bin with paper shreds and confetti. Toss in some foam shapes or alphabet letters, and your sensory bin is ready to go!
- Create some Mardi Gras playdough. Using a homemade playdough recipe, make playdough in yellow, green, and purple. Then, hand your little ones some Mardi Gras beads to press into the playdough to create interesting textures and designs.
- Find some free Mardi Gras coloring sheets to decorate your house for the celebration.
- Whip up some Mardi Gras slime! Just make your basic glitter glue slime and add in some miniature plastic babies or Mardi Gras beads!
- Invite your kids to make Mardi Gras masks. Buy some plain white cat-eye masks appropriate for Mardi Gras or Carnival (usually in the party section by the masquerade props). Then, give your kids some tempera paint and yellow, purple, and green feathers – along with some glue – and let them go to town on their masks. To hold masks to the face, adhere a 1/8th-inch dowel rod to one side of the mask.
- Master Mardi Gras vocabulary by having the kids try to guess what each of these Mardi Gras terms means.
- Branch out and learn about the home of Mardi Gras with this free Louisiana Unit Student Supplement.
- Bake a king cake! Learning always works best when there are tasty snacks involved, but don’t forget the baby!
- Make a Mardi Gras float! Get inspiration from floats from years past and then break out a box and your craft supplies and try your hand at your own.
- Get the kids in the kitchen and help your taste buds have a party with some Mardi Gras food ideas like gumbo, beignets, and more!
Whether you decided to go all out or just keep it small, I hope these ideas will help add some color back into the winter gray. Do you have other ways you add Mardi Gras fun to your homeschooling? Let me know in the comments below!
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