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Mardi GrasMardi Gras is a French phrase for Fat Tuesday, more formally known as Shrove Tuesday. This is the holiday to celebrate and eat like a glutton because the following day is Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of Lent. During Lent, Christians give up something they enjoy (usually a favorite food) for 40 days leading up to Easter. Although Mardi Gras began as the last day to indulge in food and drink before the fasting period of Lent, it has since evolved into a big festival celebrated by people around the world.

Celebrate Mardi Gras at Home or School!
Throughout Mardi Gras celebrations you will note the colors of purple, green and gold in just about everything. What do these colors mean?

Purple Represents Justice.
Green Represents Faith.
Gold Represents Power.

Turn on your favorite jazz music, gather supplies in purple, green and gold and get ready for a day filled with creative expression and sensory fun!

Mask Making
Start off with this wonderful mask template, available through Busy Bee Speech.  Gather up a collection of purple, green and gold feathers, buttons, jewels, beads and other decorations. With a few dabs of glue, you will find yourself with a mask perfect for the celebration of the day. Also, with the cutting, gluing and placement of tiny beads and buttons – you get a bit of fine motor fun!

See Sensory Integration Experiences through Art

wishing tree
Wishing Tree – Credit: NBC News

Beads
Make your own beads! Grab some tempera paint, spray glue and glitter.  Supply a bowl full of various sized pasta noodles and paint away.  After the beads dry, use yarn to string the pasta and create a necklace.  Stringing beads is great for hand-eye coordination, motor planning and fine motor skills.

In New Orleans, many beads end up in the community’s trees as those in the parade toss the beads to those in the crowd.  Trees are thus decorated with plentiful amounts of beads.  So head out to your front yard and decorate your tree with your home made beads.  For a fun twist to engage your community, consider creating a Wishing Tree.

After starting your wishing tree, head on over to Special-Ism’s Facebook page for our annual Kindness Challenge – each day for 40 days, we offer up a challenge for a random act of kindness!

king cake
Credit: Taste of Home

Bake a King Cake
Mardi Gras is not complete without a slice of King Cake.  A tradition brought over by the French settlers around 1870, the King Cake celebrated the coming of the Magi twelve days after Christmas bearing gifts for the Christ Child.  In times past, little hidden items such as coins or beans were baked inside the cake.  In 1871, a tradition began.  Whoever drew the slice of cake with the hidden prize inside was chosen as the Queen of Mardi Gras.  Have some sensory fun in the kitchen with your kiddos and bake a 2- ingredient King Cake.  Click the image to the left for a full recipe from Taste of Home.

mardi gras float
Credit: Fanshare

Make a Kid’s Float
Pull out those empty shoe boxes hiding in the back of your closet and get creative. Gather up markers, paint, feathers and beads along with glue, scissors and tape. Pull out any wrapping paper you saved from the holidays. If you can, purchase small axels, wheels and string.

Wrap each shoe box in plain paper or paint it a solid color to give your child a blank canvas. Decorate the float with paint, feathers and beads.  After everything is dry, attach small toy wheels to the bottom of the shoebox or place the shoebox atop a toy car.  Attach a string to the front of the shoebox so your child can pull the float through your very own Mardi Gras parade.

king costumeMake a King or Queen Costume
If you have a little King or Queen, don’t stop with the craft ideas above — make a cape and crown for your little highness.  Crown making could not be easier than this simple guide.  With safety scissors, have your kids cut out the crown and then bejewel them with left over crafts from the mask and bead-making crafts.

Cape making is easy peazy with this instructional video that recommends using an old t-shirt.

Turn up the jazz music and you have yourself a Mardi Gras party!

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Special-Ism
An "Ism" is our coined term synonymous with a “challenge”. Many children, with or without a diagnostic label, experience various challenges throughout their developmental years which are impacting them in the classroom and at home. At Special-Ism, the Ism is our focus. We do not look at the diagnostic label, instead, we look at the Isms and offer solutions no matter the diagnosis.