Mardi Gras, or “Fat Tuesday,” falls on February 28th in 2017. This colorful festival lends itself to all manner of arts and crafts projects, but did you know you can also work it into a variety of lesson plans?
Few things are more representative of the festival’s colorful past than the music of Mardi Gras. Representing a kaleidoscopic cross-section of New Orleans history, these traditional tunes span genres from folk, tribal, and zydeco to brass band and jazz. Play a festival soundtrack (just be sure to screen it first for age appropriateness) and let kids play along on their own instruments. You can even have them craft their own drums, tambourines, and castanets.
Did you know that American Mardi Gras dates back more than 300 years? The original feast day is likely thousands of years old. In that time, the festival has evolved through many different purposes and traditions, but the spirit of celebration remains the same. Mardi Gras is a great jumping-off point for a variety of world and US history lessons, such as the Age of Exploration, French colonization of what would become Louisiana, and the Reconstruction era following the Civil War.
Believe it or not, Mardi Gras can even be tied into a STEM lesson! The Mardi Gras floats used in carnivals and parades in New Orleans and around the world are feats of engineering. They have to be built to certain specifications, meet rigid safety standards, and withstand a lot of weight, yet still appear weightless and ethereal. Challenge kids to design miniature floats, or show videos depicting elaborate float construction.
For even more Mardi Gras lesson plans, check out the Louisiana Vermilion Parish School’s page.