Mardi Gras Preschool Theme

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Mardi Gras is French for "Fat Tuesday," reflecting the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season.  

The colors for this celebration are usually purple (denoting justice), green (faith), and yellow (power).  

Let the Mardi Gras Theme Planning Begin!

This page is just a beginning of activities and ideas!  

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Choose the preschool lesson plan/activity type you are looking for from the list below or scroll the page for all the activities!

Mardi Gras Theme Art


Materials Needed: paper plates (with precut eye holes), jumbo craft sticks, tape, large variety of arts and crafts supplies (sequins, glitter, beads, yarn, buttons, stickers, etc.) and glue.

The children decorate the mask!

Tape on the jumbo craft sticks for the children to use as a handle.

Enjoy!  Have a parade!!


Materials needed:  tagboard (sturdy paper), crayons, black tempera paint, brushes, toothpicks or small wooden skewers

The children color the tagboard with crayons.  Encourage them to cover as much as they can!

Paint with black paint.  Give a second coat when dry.

The children scratch out designs with sticks when done.

These are awesome!

Bead Painting

Materials needed:  shallow tray, stings of beads, pincher style clothes pins, paint, paper

Pinch a clothespin at one end of a string of beads.

The children dip the beads into paint.

Place the paper in a shallow tray.

The children move the beads around the tray using the clothespin to hold it.

Parade Float

Use shoe boxes or other boxes (ask parents to provide empty food boxes from cereal, breakfast bars, etc.) and give the children any type of miscellaneous art and craft supplies you have, some glue and some time!

Once their "floats" are dried, attach yarn or string and pull them in a parade. Display them for parents to enjoy as well!

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Mardi Gras Theme Block Center Ideas

Parade Time!

Add cars, trucks and little people for a New Orleans Parade!

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Mardi Gras Theme Circle Time Ideas

Circle Time is such a great time for children to learn the social skills of being together as a large group AND to learn more about your theme!

What's Missing

Although the main Mardi Gras colors are purple, green and yellow--use any colors for this activity.

Place several colored coins or necklaces or beads in front of you.  

Have the children name the colors.

Take all the beads in your hand.  Place only one or two back in front of you.

Ask the children which one or ones are missing!

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Snack Recipe Ideas to Cook Up for Your Theme!

Cooking with children helps develop their math skills and helps them to learn how to follow directions. It also allows for some great conversation! Ask many questions while cooking with your children to encourage conversation! Be sure to ask specific themed questions while making these fun snacks!

King Cakes

This is a TRADITIONAL snack for Mardi Gras!  Here is a recipe I found for it:

Ingredients needed:

Filling: 4 ounces cream cheese, 1/2 cup brown sugar (packed), 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 cup raisins (soak in hot water for 15 minutes, drain and pat dry) 1/2 cup pecan halves (I have never used these because of nut allergies).

Cake: 2 rolls (total of 12 individual crescent rolls) refrigerated crescent rolls in the can

Icing:  1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar; 3 to 4 Tablespoon milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, Purple, green, and yellow colored sugar crystals or food coloring

  • Have the children help you to put the cream cheese, brown sugar, cinnamon, and raisins in a food processor.  
  • Process until combined. Set aside. 
  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a pizza pan or baking sheet with butter-flavored vegetable oil. 
  • Unroll crescent roll dough and separate into triangles. Position triangles next to each other with the points toward the center, overlapping the long sides about 1/4-inch, forming a large round. Where the pieces overlap, press the seams together only in the center of each seam, leaving either ends of the seams unsealed so you can fold them up over the filling. 
  • Spread the filling around in a ring covering the center sealed seam of each triangle. 
  • Place a small plastic baby or dried bean somewhere in the filling. (The person who gets this piece will have good luck for the year.) 
  • Fold the short side of each triangle toward the center just to the edge of the filling to cover. Then pull the point end of the triangles toward the outer rim of the pan to fully enclose the filling, tucking under the points. Lightly press the seams. 
  • Bake 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown. Let cool to room temperature. 
  • Whisk together the confectioners' sugar, milk or cream, and vanilla until smooth. The consistency should be fairly thick, but still thin enough to slowly drip down the sides. Add more milk as necessary. Spoon the icing in a ring over the top of the King Cake and allow it to slowly drip down the sides. 

To decorate for Mardi Gras, sprinkle wide stripes of purple, green, and yellow colored sugar crystals. 

If using food coloring:

  • Whisk together icing as above.
  • Divide icing evenly among 3 bowls.
  • Add 2 drops each of red and blue food coloring to the first bowl to make purple.
  • Use 2 drops each of yellow and green in the remaining 2 bowls.
  • Scrape each individual bowl into its own ziptop bag.
  • Squeeze out all the air and seal.
  • Snip off one corner of the bag and use as a pastry bag to pipe wide stripes of icing on the King Cake. The bags will give you more control than using a spoon or spatula. The icing should firm up a bit in about an hour. 


Just make a cake!  Separate vanilla canned frosting into 3 bowls and color one purple, one green and one yellow (with food gel) and decorate!

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Mardi Gras Theme Ideas to Transform Your Dramatic Play Area

Dress Up

What a PERFECT theme for costumes!  Provide different types of costumes, masks, beads etc.  Have a parade!

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Mardi Gras Theme Ideas for your Easel--More Than Just Painting
(Although that is always THE favorite in our classroom!)

Dripping With Color

Provide purple, green and yellow paint that is watered down. Provide pipettes for the children to drop the paint at the top of the paper and it will slowly drip down like fireworks!

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Mardi Gras Theme Large Group Games to Help Build Your Preschoolers' Muscles While They Have Fun Together!

Colored Coin Tossing

Provide the children with purple, green and yellow paper plates.

Encourage them to toss them across a large area such as a taped line across the room.

VARIATION:  Make these as an art activity first.  Have them decorate one paper plate of each color listed above.  Encourage them to print their names and decorate.

In parades, colored coins are tossed to the crowd.  Your students and use their larger paper coins for some games or to toss as they go on a walking parade outside!

Mardi Gras Preschool Theme Parachute Fun

Colorful Parachute Fun

Use the parachute to flip off (or try to keep on!) purple, green and yellow (or any colored) balls!  

Try going slow, and then fast.

You could try doing this parachute game with different tempos of jazz music playing!

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Mardi Gras Theme Ideas for Your Preschool Classroom Library

Book Suggestions for the Library

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Mardi Gras Theme Activities to Help Your Preschoolers Develop Math Skills and the Small Muscles in Their Hands!

Bead Sorting

The colored necklaces found in party stores for Mardi Gras can be used in so many ways for math!  Here are some examples:

  • Cut different lengths of different colors and match OR line up small, medium large.
  • Make patterns with the beads for the children to either continue or recreate (purple, red, purple red, etc.)
  • Cut the strings of beads into lengths with increasing numbers left on the strand (1 bead, 2 bead strand, 3 bead strand).  The children sort in order OR place into numbered bowls that you place out.

Coin Sorting and Counting

The coins that are thrown are called Doubloons.  You can find them in a party store OR use a variety of your own coins.

The children can sort by color, size or other attributes into muffin tins, bowls, etc.

Bead Necklaces

Materials needed:  string, wooden or plastic beads of many colors.

The children string the beads to make necklaces.  You might also want to provide some colorful bowls for the children who don't want to make necklaces to use to sort beads.

VARIATION:  Some children have a difficult time stringing the beads.  You could provide the larger pony beads and chenille pipe cleaners for them to string.

EXTENSION:  Encourage the children to identify and make patterns with the beads.

Crawfish Game Mat
Crawfish Pieces

Crawfish Matching from Miss Pennye P.

Laminate some crawfish on mats (as on the newspaper mats)

Create and laminate some Boiled Crawfish.

The children count the Boiled Crawfish and match the number to the amount of crawfish!!! 

Mardi Gras Preschool Theme Gumbo Soup Opposites GameGumbo Soup Pot
Mardi Gras Preschool Theme Gumbo Soup Opposites GameGumbo Soup Opposite Cards
Mardi Gras Preschool Theme Gumbo Soup Opposites GameGumbo Soup Instructions
Mardi Gras Preschool Theme Gumbo Soup Opposites GameGumbo Soup Instructions

Gumbo Soup Match from Miss Pennye P.

Create opposite pictures(up/down; in front of/behind, etc.)

The children place them "in the pot" next to each other.

You could also create Letter matches or number or color matches rather than opposites.

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Mardi Gras Theme Music and Movement Activities and Ideas to Get Your Preschoolers Movin' and Groovin'!

Alligator Snap by Miss Jo Miss Pennye P. from Lousianna said the kids LOVE Miss Jo! Check out her CD here


Provide rocks, rice, coins, sand and other items and a small plastic bottle with a cover.  

The children choose a few items to put in their bottles and experiment with the sounds they make!

Use the maracas to dance to music.

Jazz It Up!

Provide some fun jazz music for the kids to dance to.  Play freeze dance as they use musical instruments that you have made with them in the classroom or already made instruments.

Louis Armstrong is one of my favorites!  His version of "When The Saints Come Marching In" would be perfect for this theme, as it is a traditional tune played and danced to in the parades!

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Mardi Gras Theme Activities for You Sand and Water Table

Treasure Hunt

Add colored beads or coins to your sand table for the children to find during your theme!

Colored Rice

Colored rice is beautiful and fun to use!

To color it, just add a couple of teaspoons of rubbing alcohol, food coloring and a bunch of rice (I do it in a ziploc baggie) and mix.  Add more color as needed.

Lay out on a cookie sheet to dry.

Provide spoons, cups, etc. and rice to your sand table.

Colored Macaroni

Macaroni is a little more difficult to color.  I use the same ingredients as I do for the rice (above) but the colors are different because pasta is yellow to begin with.  It is still fun to use.  

Add colored macaroni and ziti to your table with string for lacing!

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Mardi Gras Theme Science Activities--for Your Preschool Scientists in Training!

Discovery Bottles

These are fun for any theme!  For this theme, use small, clear plastic bottles.  Place equal parts (about 1/3 each) of vegetable oil, water (colored with Mardi Gras colors!) and Karo syrup.  Add a few short strings of beads.

Make several of these.  They are so cool to watch as you turn them upside down!

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Writing Activity Ideas for Your Mardi Gras Theme!

Gumbo Letters  Thank you Miss Pennye P. of LA for this idea!

Create a large poster with stenciled letters on it.
Provide a large (gumbo) pot.  Fill it with letters.
The children use a ladle to scoop out the letters and place on the poster to match the letters!

Name Crowns

Provide stencils for crowns that you have cut out of cardboard. 

The children trace them onto paper and cut out (great small muscle activity as well as cutting skills!).

They print their name or letters onto the crown and then color/decorate to make their own crown for this preschool theme of Mardis Gras!

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Other Pages You Might Be Interested In:

Go to MAIN THEMES Page for more theme ideas!

Go to Preschool Plan It's Home Page

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