Double the Merriment Mardi Gras Masks
Build community by making colorful, upbeat Mardi Gras masks. Celebrate the spirit of cities such as New Orleans.
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. 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 Crayola Neon Color Explosion® 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 Neon Color Explosion Markers to add brilliant facial features and decorations. Take advantage of the paper’s two-sided feature by cutting and curling parts of the mask so both sides of the paper show. 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 Neon Color Explosion 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!
Adult supervision is required for any arts & crafts project. Observe children closely and intervene as necessary to prevent potential safety problems and ensure appropriate use of arts and crafts materials. Some craft items, particularly beads and buttons, are potential choking hazards for young children. Avoid use of such small parts with children younger than 3 years. Craft items such as scissors, push pins and chenille sticks may have sharp points or edges. Avoid use of materials with sharp points by children younger than 4 years. Read all manufacturers' safety warnings before using arts and craft supplies.
Costumes & Masks— CAUTION: When children wear hand-crafted costumes and masks, make sure the crafts do not obstruct the child’s vision, hearing, or impede movement. Do not use feathers, fabric, or raffia on wearable costumes and masks because these items do not pass costume flammability tests. Wearable masks are those held in place on the face with elastic, yarn, or other materials. Keep away from open flames.
Scissors—ATTENTION: The cutting edges of scissors are sharp and care should be taken whenever cutting or handling. Blunt-tip scissors should be used only by children 4 years and older. Pointed-tip scissors should be used only by children 6 years and older.
Wood—By its nature, wood is rough and may contain splinters or sharp points
- Turn the activity into a community service project. Hold a school-wide Mardi Gras celebration on behalf of New Orleans.
- Combine mask-making with creative writing. Children create a character and then write about it in a story or poem. Hold a reading. Encourage authors to hold or display their masks as they read.
- Make animal masks as part of a natural science lesson.
- Use mask making as a way to reflect on and express emotions and personality characteristics.
- Assessment: Did students make use of the two-sided feature of the paper in creating their masks? Do mask decorations reflect the spirit of Mardi Gras in New Orleans? Did this activity contribute to a positive and growing community spirit within the group?