Monday, February 18, 2013

Mardi Gras for Preschoolers

I sadly have a tendency to make my posts about what we did LAST week which means this week, I'll be posting about our Mardi Gras activities and Valentine's Day activities...It probably won't be very useful to you this year but you'll know where to look next year AND there's always some trays that can be adapted for other occasions of course (a change of colors might just do it for example!)

Now, back to our Fleur de Lys...Being that I am from Quebec and a full-on French-blooded creature, Mardi Gras is something I grew up with but not in the terms of Bourbon street. Mardi Gras is more of a "Carnaval" for us and unless you go to Quebec City, you might not really remember it is Mardi Gras, nor see the floats. You might get a King Cake, complete with a bean inside though but that would be mostly thanks to your good mom (hi, mom!), not your local baker.

Mardi Gras Float - Mobile, Ala.
Mardi Gras Float, Mobile, Alabama, 2005. Lots of fun for all ages!

When I finally moved to the U.S., I finally got to enjoy the "original" Mardi Gras in Mobile, Alabama. What an experience that was. Completely different from a snowy, freezing Quebec Carnaval. :) Probably quite different from a New Orleans Mardi Gras too. Mobile was quite family friendly. Fast-forward to a few years later and we experienced a Fastelavn in Denmark, a Fasching in Germany and who knows? Maybe a Venetian Carnival if we ever get the guts to go with the kids. For now, I bought a mask and called it  a day. But enough of my rambling, let's get to the point...The Mardi Gras trays...

Lacing Mardi Gras Beads
Lace your own Mardi Gras Bead Necklace

If you own Melissa & Doug's Primary Lacing Beads, this activity will be very easy to prepare. I used the "gold, green and purple" Mardi Gras colored beads and the green shoelace provided. Voila! 

Sorting Mardi Gras Beads
Sorting Mardi Gras Bead Necklaces by Color

Another very easy activity to prepare is one adored by my kids aged 4.5 and 2; playing with bead necklaces. I provided all my gold, purple and green bead necklaces and asked Adrian the sort them. It looks easy but as they get tangled, it is not as easy as it looks. Once sorted, the extensions are endless. I list below, a few ideas. I personally never purchased any bead necklaces and have many more colors. If you live close to New Orleans or Mobile, you'll know where and when to get "free beads" too. I got all of mine by attending the Mardi Gras float parades of Mobile, Alabama in 2005 and a few by going to a Halloween event in New Orleans back in 2004. Do not believe everything you hear: attending these events if enough to get "beads". Enough said. If you are too far, Oriental Trading Company does sell necklace beads as well.

Sorting Mardi Gras Beads by Color
"Beads" Now Sorted: let the counting, sizing and measuring begin!

Once the necklaces are sorted, the "real" fun can begin. We counted how many green, gold and purple necklaces we had by putting them around Adrian's neck, discussed the size of the beads, the shape (some were dice beads, some disco balls, some were eggs, etc), the length of the necklace (one purple necklace almost touched the floor when he put it on!), the overall weight of all these necklaces around his neck and so on.

Mardi Gras Mask Preschool
Make a Mardi Gras Mask

After I brought out my old Mardi Gras masks, Adrian had to try them on. So I let him and pointed out some of their features. I also showed him other masks including our Venetian mask (it's hung on a wall). Finally, we created our own masks. Nothing fancy. Our art supplies are getting depleted and Adrian is not too artsy but usually bases his designs on mine so I made a mask too. My templates were ready and the crayons were out along with feathers and a drinking straw and tape. See the results above! :)

Mardi Gras Beads Shapes
Mardi Gras Necklace Shapes

Using Mardi Gras necklaces, make various shapes. I started with the circle and moved on with the oval, rectangle, square and triangle. We eventually played around and tried making some letters. It was difficult (boring?) for Adrian. He made a pretty good oval but couldn't quite do (had no interest?) any other shape.  I originally saw this idea on E is for Explore.

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Happy Mardi Gras!

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  1. We used to live in New Orleans and I have so many beads - I never thought of repurposing them for our tot school :) I'll have to do that next year!!

    1. It was more of a day than a week unit for us really and just with beads...there were so many possibilities so yes, you should find yours and re-cycle them! :) My kids love going through them. We had lots of colors but I stuck to the "traditional" ones for the day.