Happy Fat Tuesday!
As we “Read Across America” I wanted to do something a little different and also toss in some geography; so I thought it would be fun to learn about Louisiana and have a Mardi Gras theme day on a Friday.
My students have really enjoyed it in the past. It's another fun thing to do for March is Reading Month and a great way to learn about another state. Here are just a few of the things I did:
I kept it simple, just sending a letter home asking parents to please have their child wear something festive, purple-yellow-and green, or dress as a Mardi Gras-type clown if they wanted to. I also dress up. I've collected quite a few costumes over the years.
My students enjoy seeing me dressed up and it makes story time extra fun. Here I simply appliqued some Mardi Gras fabric cut out's to a black dress, added some gold and purple puffy paint around the edges, donned a feathered boa, a coin necklace, some beads, put on crazy purple, yellow and green socks, and a metallic mask and I was all set!
I have a Happy Mardi Gras note on their desktop with a purple, yellow and green Skittle waiting for them. They get to eat two Skittles and then we use the other one as a manipulative to play “I Spy” the number or letter for our first Table Top lesson. Click on the link to view/print the Mardi Gras note + a blank “I Spy” skill sheet. (You can fill in whatever letters/numbers that you're studying.)
I bought Mardi Gras necklaces at the local party store and the students got to choose which color they wanted. Since Mardi Gras is all about collecting necklaces they got to make an additional one out of dyed macaroni, incorporating a specific ABC-ABC pattern.
Their favorite centers were decorating a mask, using bingo dot markers to make a pattern, and doing a pinch and poke with a golf tee. Click on the link to view/print these Mardi Gras center activities
In the afternoon we played a few games. I tossed purple, green and gold coins all over the floor while they were at lunch. When they came back to the classroom they got to scamper around and find as many as they could and then sort them by color.
The one who found the most coins won a prize. Everyone got to keep 3 coins (one of each color); we identify these colors in Spanish.
We made several different patterns with the coins, counted them by 10’s to 100, and by 1’s in English and Spanish. We counted backwards from 10 to 0 and then "blasted off" to our lockers to put the coins in our backpacks.
Oriental Trading sells quite a few Mardi Gras items as well as your local party store.
As another math extension, they also played a Mardi Gras dice game. Click on the link to view/print the Mardi Gras dice game.
I bought a beanie-type Mardi Gras stuffed Jester and we played “Hot Jester” (Like Hot Potato) passing it around in a circle to music; when the Mardi Gras music stopped, the one holding the Jester was out.
We had our own Mardi Gras parade marching around the room and then down the hall to visit a few of the other preschool and kindergarten classes.
For writing/reading they completed their Mardi Gras page for our class book. Click on the link to view/print a Mardi Gras class book.
For geography/writing/reading everyone cut and glued their Louisiana book. We found Louisiana on the globe and state map and looked at books from the library. If you are a Gold Subscription member and want to make a comparison booklet using your state, drop me an e-mail and I will send you the clip art and pages for your state. Click on the link to view/print a Louisiana state booklet.
For story time I checked out books from the library on Mardi Gras and showed them photos that I printed from the web. Some books I recommend are:
- Mardi Gras in New Orleans: an Alphabet Book by Karen Jansen. This is a different kind of alphabet book as it doesn’t just have A is for Alligator. The text recognizes all of the initial A’s. e.g. Accordions, the anticipation of Ash Wednesday, the day after “Fat Tuesday”, We all attend the Mardi Gras, an annual action that…” All of the bolded letter A’s are be in a purple color.
- Mimi’s First Mardi Gras by Alice Couvillon, is a great way to give your students a bit of information about Mardi Gras as well as learn some of their distinct vocabulary, everything from beignets (doughnuts eaten for breakfast) to the doubloons (colored coins) thrown from the floats. The book is illustrated in the vibrant colors of Mardi Gras that help the story come alive.
- Cajun Alphabet, by James Rice is also an unusual alphabet book. I like that it rhymes, but the text is a bit long at times. It definitely has a Cajun flavor and even throws in some French phrases.
- Celebrate Mardi Gras & Carnival, by Campoy This included a regional map of the US and highlighted Louisiana. They gave a short description of the holiday and had actual pictures of Mardi Gras. The authors also mentioned hurricane Katrina in their dedication page to New Orleans.
- After reading about Mardi Gras, we graphed whether we'd really like to go to Louisiana and attend Mardi Gras. Surprisingly, some of my students did not; they thought it would be kind of scary. Click on the link to view/print the Mardi Gras graph.
During Show & Share time, we tossed the Mardi Gras jester back and forth. Whoever had the jester got to share what part of Mardi Gras day was their favorite.
The day went faster than usual. I gave everyone a certificate for participating; it seemed that everyone had had a Mardi Gras great time! Click on the link to view/print a Mardi Gras certificate