Length of Program
Teens love a party and Carnival, Mardi Gras, and other celebrations, as well as theme parks and carnivals. They offer colorful opportunities to explore masks, games, parades, and music. While Mardi Gras in New Orleans may be the most well known, Carnival is celebrated around the world. It doesn’t matter when this program is scheduled. Every day can be a carnival! Teens will enjoy dressing up in colorful masks, eating New Orleans treats, playing carnival games, and listening to lively music.
If your community celebrates Fiesta, Carnival, or another occasion, check to see if a representative from the organizing group is available to bring costumes and photographs or replicas of floats to share with the teens. Sometimes local service clubs host carnivals and are willing to assist with planning games and activities. Prepare or buy food in advance. Purchase Mardi Gras beads and carnival prizes to give away from a company like Sherman Specialties or Oriental Trading Company.
Upstart sells jazz-inspired items for their "Blow the Blues Away" teen reading campaign. Purchase posters and bookmarks to "jazz up your day." Decorate with gold, purple, and green streamers, Mardi Gras masks, beads and tokens.
Invite the teens to plan and host a carnival for the younger children. Let them decide on the games and activities that will be offered. Before the program, they will plan all of the events and prepare needed items, set up carnival booths with games (ring toss, bowling, Velcro darts, etc.), food, and crafts. Get a roll of tickets or make coupons. Give these to the children who attend the carnival “as admission” for participating in the games and activities. Provide prizes and supplies for face painting.
Books to Display
- Inside the Live Reptile Tent: The Twilight World of Carnival Midway by Jeffrey T. Brouws.
- Mardi Gras: A Cajun Country Celebration by Diane Hoyt-Goldsmith.
- Roller Coasters: Or I Had So Much Fun, I Almost Puked by Nick Cook.
- A World of Holidays: Carnival by Catherine Chambers.
Books to Booktalk
- Dunk by David Lubar.
- The Carnivorous Carnival by Lemony Snicket.
- Full Tilt by Neal Schusterman.
Mardi Gras Masks
- Tag board
- Elastic string
- Feathers, sequins, jewels, gold and silver rickrack, and metallic foil
- Craft glue
- Hole punch
- Mask pattern or store-bought masks
Trace the mask pattern onto tag board, or purchase plain paper or plastic masks at a party store. Punch a hole in each side and attach elastic string. Glue on feathers, rickrack, metallic foil, jewels, etc.
Serve King Cake. There are several recipes available or you can purchase one from many bakeries. According to www.holidays.net/mardigras/cake.htm, the traditional King Cakes were made from cinnamon dough topped with green, purple, and yellow sugar sprinkles. Also serve colorful fruit punch in plastic hurricane glasses that can be kept as New Orleans-style souvenirs. They are available from party stores.
- “Buckwheat Zydeco” on World Playground by Various Artists.
- Fair Weather by Richard Peck.
- “Kee-Mo Ky-Mo” on Fidgety Feet by Steve Rashid.
- "Mardi Gras Mambo" by Cubanismo on Latin Playground.