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Double the Merriment Mardi Gras Masks

Build community by making colorful, upbeat Mardi Gras masks. Celebrate the spirit of cities such as New Orleans.

  • Grade 4
    Grade 5
    Grade 6
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Mardi Gras, a day of feasting and merrymaking, is celebrated in many Christian cultures just before the beginning of Lent. It is the final day of Carnival. The translation of the French Mardi gras is "Fat Tuesday." Germans call this day Fastnaught Day and in England it is Shrove Tuesday. Many of the customs date back to ancient secular celebrations of spring.
    2. French settlers brought Mardi Gras traditions to the Americas, including cities such as New Orleans and Rio de Janeiro. As the cities grew, so did the Mardi Gras spirit, and Carnival celebrations continue to thrive. In New Orleans, the city pulsed with jazz as elaborately masked and costumed revelers whirled and danced in the streets.
    3. Then, on August 28, 2005, the city of New Orleans was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Students find out what happened on that day and in the days that followed. How did people come together to rebuild the city? When was Mardi Gras celebrated again? In what ways did the spirit of Mardi Gras help create a sense of community within the city?
    4. Use dark construction paper to make a Mardi Gras mask that captures the essence of New Orleans. Draw the outline of a mask in the center of your paper with Crayola Colored Pencils.
    5. Use Crayola Gel Markers to add brilliant facial features and decorations. For example, instead of removing eyeholes, simply cut along the lower eye lid and then fringe and curl the eyelashes.
    6. Think of creative ways to cut and curl segments of the outer edges of the mask to form hair, feathery decorations, or other features. To curl the paper, just wind it around a marker barrel.
    7. Add decorations cut from additional dark construction paper. Use foam dots to attach them so the bits are 3-D. Embellish your mask with Crayola Glitter Glue. Air-dry the glue.
    8. Decorate a dowel stick to use as a handle. Tape the mask to the stick. Celebrate!
  • Standards

    LA: Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

    LA: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    LA: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience in an organized manner, using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.

    SS: Describe ways in which language, stories, folktales, music, and artistic creations serve as expressions of culture and influence behavior of people living in a particular culture.

    SS: Give examples of and explain group and institutional influences such as student, family member, peer play group member, or club member.

    SS: Use appropriate resources, data sources, and geographic tools to generate, manipulate, and interpret information.

    VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of their experiences and ideas.

    VA: Select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of their ideas.

    VA: Know and compare the characteristics of artworks in various eras and cultures.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: Masking and Madness: Mardi Gras in New Orleans by Kerri McCaffery; Mardi Gras Treasures: Float Designs of the Golden Age by Henri Schlinder; Mardi Gras…As It Was by Robert Gallant

    In small groups, students research the history of the city of New Orleans. Investigate the culture of the city, the music, and spicy food. Organize research into an electronic presentation for classmates.

    Students combine mask-making with creative writing. In small groups, students use their original masks to create characters for an original story. Students perform the story as a play, using their masks in the performance. The performance can be live or videotaped for future viewing.

    Have students organize a school-wide Mardi Gras celebration. Find a time during the school day to share learning about Mardi Gras with other classes in the building. Share music of the city with classes and recipes. If possible, students prepare foods from New Orleans for the celebration.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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