How To Make a Mardi Gras Float for a Parade in the Classroom
Students will enjoy making their own Mardi Gras floats with art supplies and materials from around the house. After a lesson that explains the Mardi Gras holiday, assign students an art project that makes use of the holiday colors and helps teach how certain colors are symbolic of concepts and ideas.
A shoebox with lid for each float
Colored tissue papers, construction papers, foils or fabrics in rich shades of purple, gold and green
Stapler and staples
Hot glue gun
Mardi Gras beads in assorted colors
Ribbons in Mardi Gras colors
Feathers, sequins, beads and miscellaneous doo-dads
A small doll or two to ride the float
Doubloons or coins covered with metallic papers
Come up with a float theme or idea. The theme will determine how you decorate the float. Themes can be anything from “Under the Sea” to characters in favorite books to mythological creatures like “Polyphemous and Cyclops.”
Cover your box with a base paper or foil. Use a hot glue gun or staple to secure covering. Cover the lid, too. Since the box will be turned upside down, there is no need to cover the inside.
Turn the box upside down. Slip the covered lid over one end of the box bottom, perpendicular to the floor. Decorate the inside and outside of the box lid.
Write the theme of your float along the sides or cut out letters from construction paper and adhere them to the float’s sides. Use markers or glitter to add sparkle.
Add thrones, seats or props for characters to perch upon. Trim with ribbon festooning, or use tinsel to create fringes around the float’s bottom. Old dollhouse furniture, trimmed in Mardi Gras sparkle, works well.
Add dolls, candies, doubloons and assorted trinkets. Drape Mardi Gras beads around the top and bottom of the float. Adhere with glue dots or staples.
Additional learning activities:
Explain to students what Mardi Gras is and why people celebrate it.
Discuss traditions, festivities and vocabulary associated with Mardi Gras.
Require that themes come from areas related to course work.
Explain the colors of Mardi Gras and what they stand for. In 1892, the Krewe of Rex carried out a Mardi Gras parade whose theme was “Symbolism of Colors.” Green, gold and purple were used. Rex interpreted purple as being symbolic of justice. Green represented faith and gold symbolized power.
Today’s Mardi Gras colors are everywhere: on banners, costumes, masks, beads and colored sugar on king cakes.
Your students will enjoy joining in traditional Mardi Gras activities, even if they live in other parts of the country.
History of Mardi Gras. Jim Davis