Mardi Gras Day…Make a King Cake


Mardi Gras is a day of carnival. Mardi Gras means “Fat Tuesday” in french. The name “Fat Tuesday” comes from the ancient custom of parading a fattened ox through the streets on the day before Lent. Mardi Gras is celebrated in many places around the world, including: New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, (where it is called Carnaval); Nice, France; and others. The traditional New Orleans Mardi Gras colors are purple, green and gold.

Happy Mardi Gras!

We are starting our study of mapping and the 7 continents and 4 oceans of the world.  As part of this study we look at some areas of the 4 corners of the United States.  I like to teach the kids something about each continent, but something about the North, South, East and West of our country too. Nothing speaks about the South like Louisiana. And one of their holidays they are most known for is Mardi Gras.

Now I think it is a crazy New Orleans holiday too, but I think it is fun to use it as a cultural springboard to discuss the new term “King Cake”  and craft a mask and maybe write a story about a boy or girl who found the little plastic baby inside their own King Cake.

King Cake….who’s gonna find the baby inside?

In our study of the South, we will mention that  Louisiana is where Hurricane Katrina happened in 2006. And how lots of Americans went to help out where they were needed when people had their homes flooded. We will talk about what a hurricane is  and compared and contrasted Tornados versus  Huricanes in bad weather. (Since we are just starting our weather unit in Science!) Steve Spangler the Science Guy has a cool 2 liter bottle Tornado Tube demo. It is on his website.  The link is   Right HERE.

Cute story about a Hurricane…
Tornado lessons are fun with visual aids…. This website has a great math powerpoint using terms from Mardi Gras for standard measurement questions. We have computer  too so it will be fun to get on there and play it.  I like that kids in my class will become exposed to all thestandard units of measurement even though it is not required core anymore.

 We will make our own 12 inch “kings  feet” to go with the book I read called “How Big is a Foot” about a king who needs to figure out now to measure a new bed for his wife and they use his “feet” as a measurement tool. We then add them together to make 3 feet into a yard. Then we will hang the decorated  “feet” and “yards” from strings in the ceiling for our Mardi Gras decorations. The KING’S FEET  story kind of goes along with the “King Cake” too. There’s a method to my madness….hehe….

Elementary grade Measurement Lessons are easy with this book….

King’s Cake

 Here’s a picture of our “feet” and “yards” all decorated up and hanging from the ceiling. We did this activity in table groups of 3. It was lots of fun and I think it helps them learn the vocabulary for standard units of measurement….inches, feet, yards…..

We used these 12 foam “feet” I bought at a Teacher Math Seminar a few years back…..


They traced them, used rulers to put 12 inches on each one….

We added toes to each one of course…..

Then we got in groups of 3 and glued our 3 feet to a “yardstick” made from paper strips.
Here’s our “King’s Feet” and Yardsticks all hangin around the room….

This is a King Cake….ours were invidividual cinnamon rolls from Rhodes Rolls
frosted and sugared with the baby bear hidden inside..

 The student with the baby inside their king cake gets an extra set of  Mardi Gras beads.  I just used a baby bear pick I had leftover from a baby shower I hosted last year. So funny to see the winner scream when they got the baby!

Little King Cakes…. This was before I baked them…then we ate them before I took a pic

Here are our yummy “little” King Cakes. I used Rhodes frozen cinnamon rolls and let them rise. They were perfectly big for all the kids to eat. I hid a little “baby bear” pick inside one of them for the “mardi gras baby”.  It was a lot of fun. When they were cooled I frosted them with icing and green sugar.

Mini “KING CAKES” for First Graders..I only had green sugar….mmmmmm!

J found the little baby bear inside his cinnamon roll. So he got the extra cinnamon roll and a “Celebrate” crown to wear all day. It was a fun snack for the day.

After our daily seatwork the kids did masks instead of centers

They turned out very festive looking!

 And here are our masks……don’t they look cool? I passed out feathers, sequins and cardboard metallic mosaic tiles for the masks.  The kids colored them with markers, cut them out and cut out the eye holes, and then just did their own thing for a center. For the noisemakers I put macaroni into paper plates and stapled them on the back of this circular design I made on cardstock and had copied. The masks and noisemakers turned out pretty festive.  

I did my own mask design but I found a free design from and the link is HERE She did a pretty cute one that is downloadable and printable. Just embellish however you want to for “bling”.  We used feathers, pom poms, sequins, etc.

Noisemakers out of paper plates and macaroni stapled to the back of the jester.

And the “feet” and “yards” hanging all over go right along with our measurement unit we are doing in math.
I think when kids do an art activity and they’ve read a story about “feet” and “yards” they will have that unit of measurement pretty much in memory. Art, music and stories, are all such good ways to internalize vocabulary you want the students to remember.  Happy Mardi Gras!