Mardi Gras: fun class games

 

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Mardi Gras means “Fat Tuesday” in French. It is a celebration full of feasting and merriment just before Lent is ushered in for the 40 days of “self denial” leading up to Easter. Mardi Gras is the time to march in parades, eat treats, sing and dance, and generally celebrate good times.

This is a great opportunity to have a fabulous party for our students in the English class, too!

Here are some game ideas, I use in my class…..

We play classic children’s games with a Mardi Gras twist, such as musical chairs.

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Instructions:

I set up chairs in a tight circle, with the seats facing outward. We should have one less chair than you have children participating. I place a Mardi Gras mask underneath each chair. I play some Latin  music. When the music starts, the kids must walk around the chairs. When the music stops, they must quickly find a seat and put the masks to their faces. The child who doesn’t have a seat is out. I take away another chair for the next round. The game continues in the same manner until only two kids are battling over one chair.

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For a version of “Simon Says,” have the kids play “Mardi Gras King or Queen Says.”

Instructions:

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The leader might say, “Mardi Gras Queen says march in place,” and the kids must follow. However, if the leader gives a command and doesn’t say “Mardi Gras Queen says,” the kids are not to follow the command. Anyone who does is out.

Scavenger Hunt Games

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I sometimes, scatter the Mardi Gras bead or Pasta (!)  necklaces my students have made at home, following written instructions, all over the classroom area for the kids to find and put around their necks. The person with the most necklaces , wins.

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I also, hide a special Mardi Gras necklace, which an American friend who had been in New Orleans, sent me some years ago…. The child who finds that necklace ,earns a special prize.

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This year, we had  a scavenger hunt with carnival masks and other party stuff. I put them all in a…treasure  box. I gave  the kids a clue each time ,as to the location of the next clue card. I put the children in pairs to figure the clues to find the Treasure Box. The winners are the first children to bring back all the clue cards, in order.

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Contests

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I ask the  students, to come to the lesson  dressed  in their best or most creative Mardi Gras gear. The outfits can be anything with the traditional Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold,  or not….For example, some of my students, this year have decided to improvise and wear their own clothes, upside down!!. Students, vote for the best costume. They cannot vote for themselves. The most fun thing is, that I have the students  do a …Catwalk Mardi Gras Best Costume competition! We have to describe what students who take part  are wearing , before we vote! Great order of adjectives, practice!

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For a mask contest, I give each of my younger students, an undecorated paper Mardi Gras mask. The children must decorate their masks using any art and craft items you have on hand such as glitter, paint, feathers and stickers. Each child will get to stand up and present her mask to the group. The children then vote — by secret ballot — for their favorite mask.

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With my very young learners, we played ” Carnival dictation ” on the board.

Instructions:

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1.I draw about 6-8 masks on the one side of the board and the same number of Masks on the other.

2.Assign the kids to either Carnival King or Carnival Queen  teams

3.I ask a player from each team in turns, to come to the board and write a word they are given, on one of their team Masks.

4.   If they are correct they move to the next ,mask  towards the finish.

5.If one student is not correct, their team miss a turn. If both players are not correct, the next two players proceed!

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We also did an “Orange dance” with Carnival music! A dance which requires  collaboration between the partners and is so much fun!!

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Finally, we love playing “ Mardi Gras whispers“!

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Similar to ” Chinese Whispers” , but this time, we use Mardi Gras and Carnival vocabulary! It’s a fun way to revise new words! I always ask the last person in the row, to come and WRITE the word on the board! This way, we practice spelling, too! They get a point for their team if they get it right!

We love Mardi Gras in class! What about you?…..

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Carnival fun in class: when improvisation rules!

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William Shakespeare claimed that

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.
As You Like It Act 2, scene 7, 139–143
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In theory, drama puts the teacher in the role of supporter in the learning process and the students can take more responsibility for their own learning.  Ideally, the teacher will take a less dominant role in the language class and let the students explore the language activities.  In the student centered classroom, every student is a potential teacher for the group.
Drama for second language learners can provide an opportunity to develop the imagination of the students. The students can go beyond the here and now and even ‘walk in the shoes’ of another. It provides an opportunity for independent thinking.
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When the students are having fun, they let their second language guard down and become less inhibited.  The student will tend to relax and stop blocking out the new language.
In the ESL/EFL classroom, role-playing is a powerful tool.  It teaches cooperation, empathy for others, decision making skills and encourages an exchange of knowledge between the students.
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The benefits of drama to develop the imagination should not be undervalued.  In our rote school routines of memorization and compulsory subject matter, we sometimes do not spend enough time on encouraging our students to use their imagination.  It is the spark that makes the ordinary into something incredible.  Imagination is the magic force that is beyond facts, figures and techniques which can inspire new ideas.  It is with imagination that the ordinary is transformed into something significant.
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We shouldn’t underestimate this powerful teaching tool to reach our students.

Having all the above in mind, I decided to have my students use their carnival accessories and costumes, as their inspiration to create their own skits, working  in groups! It was actually the day, the school Carnival party would take place during the last two teaching hours, therefore all the kids were in the spirit of  Carnival fun and came to class wearing Carnival masks and costumes ! It was difficult to have a..proper english lesson under the circumstances, therefore, I decided to ask them to use their costumes and masks as realia and write and act out their own skits, working in groups! The outcome, was amazing! It was hilarious! I love it when my students become creative!

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Although, my students used their own scenarios , I also asked them to play one  favourite drama game  :

“Scene from real life” 

Procedure:

1.  Divide the class into groups of 3-4 students each.

2.  One member of the group must tell the others a true story about an event in his/her life.  Encourage him/her to describe it in as much detail as possible.  This person becomes the “director”.

3.  The director then chooses members of the group to play the various characters involved in the scene (including him/herself).

4.  The actors then improvise the scene in front of the director.

5.  After each run-through, the director should give notes. Then the group improvises the scene again.  The goal of the director is to make the scene as believable as possible.

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6.  Once the directors of each group are satisfied with their scenes, have the groups share in front of each other.

With my very young learners, we tried several Carnival fun games such as ” The Carnival King says…”

"The Carnival King says..."

“The Carnival King says…”

or many Carnival-themed vocabulary games such as the one shown in the photo below, called” The Carnival masks dictation”  , played in teams!

"Carival Masks Dictation"

“Carival Masks Dictation”

I also, had my afternoon students make these special LEG puppets

Leg puppets

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and use them to play ” Musical chairs” or ” Freeze”! I finally asked my older students to use the leg puppets in order to act their own puppet shows!

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Improvisation , was the key issue in that, too!

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Working in teams to create the story!

 

That was an alternative english lesson, which we all enjoyed , as you can see in the photos!

Highly recommended to all teachers!

Carnival and Mardi Gras activities

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In carnival time, I usually talk to my students about  famous carnivals in the english speaking world! My most favourite one is Mardi Gras!

First, I explain to students what Mardi Gras is and why people celebrate it.
I discuss traditions, festivities and vocabulary associated with Mardi Gras.
I 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.

Some more things I tell them , can be found below…..

What is Mardi Gras?

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Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, Carnival, and even Pancake Day,  in the UK, is an annual festival falling just before Lent. It traditionally marks the last opportunity for fun and feasting before 40 days of “self-denial”. Mardi Gras means “Fat Tuesday” in French.

Festivities begin at the beginning of February, leading up to Mardi Gras day, and consist of parades, dancing in the street, costumes and masked balls. The modern Carnival tradition developed in Europe in the Middle ages, and is celebrated mainly in Roman Catholic communities in Europe and the Americas today. Some of the most famous celebrations are held in Nice (France), Cologne (Germany), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) and New Orleans (USA)

When is Mardi Gras?

Mardi Gras will be  celebrated on 4th March 2014.

Later, I either play games or ask them to make some items, following the instructions below and bring them to our school carnival party! This year, I have asked them to make:

Mardi Gras Cup Shakers

These Mardi Gras cup shakers are fun to make and produce a satisfyingly loud noise for our  Carnival party at school
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You will need:2 polystyrene cups
Green and purple paint
Dried beans or rice
Gold star stickers
Sticky tapeInstructions:Paint one cup purple and one green.Leave to dry and then decorate with stickers.Fill one cup about 1/3 full of rice or bean. Turn the other cup upside down and tape securely together.

Shake and enjoy!

Mardi Gras  bottle Shakers

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To make these Mardi Gras shakers you will need to raid the junk cupboard for supplies. Kids can use them in a very noisy Mardi Gras school  party!You will need:>Small empty plastic water bottles, with lids
Purple and green acrylic paints
Glitter, ribbon, sequins and/or beads in Mardi Gras colours
Dried beans, lentils or similarInstructions:Using the acrylic paints, decorate the outside of the plastic water bottles in whatever design you choose.When the paint is dry, decorate your “shaker” further using glitter, ribbons, sequins or beads. Let the children really go for it!Drop a small number of beans into the bottle (make sure the inside is completely dry first!) and close the lid firmly. Now, shake, rattle and roll!

Mardi Gras Necklace

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This Mardi Gras necklace is fun to make for all ages, but especially younger kids. Depending on how patient your kids are, you might want to prepare the “beads” in advance!You will need:An assortment of pasta shapes, with holes, which can be “strung” like beads.
Purple and green poster or acrylic paints
Gold acrylic or spray paint.
Shoelaces, yarn or string.
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A shaker and necklaces!

Instructions:Sort the pasta into three roughly equal groups and paint each group with one of the traditional Mardi Gras colours. If you have very young kids involved, expect them to get very messy but have a great time!For the gold “beads” it is easiest to use a gold spray paint. Either delegate this to an older child (supervised) or do it yourself, using plenty of newspaper, and in a well-ventilated room or outdoors. Spray one side of the pasta, wait for it to dry, then spray the other side.When the pasta is dry you can assemble your necklaces. Tape one end of your string to the table to make it easier.Take the opportunity for some patterning practice, or try counting the different coloured beads.

Please make sure that the pasta is completely dry before you let the kids put their necklaces on!

Mardi Gras Jester Hat

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Kids will have fun making and wearing this fun, floppy Mardi Gras jester hat!

You will need:Gold card (about 3 inches / 5 cm wide and long enough to go around your head plus some scraps)
Purple and green paper
Glue
Sticky tape
Stapler (optional)Instructions:Cut 3 ‘arches’ of each colour from the paper.Lay your gold card in front of you, face down. Arrange your arches so they stick over the top of the card. Tape into place along the back of the card.Turn your headband over. Roll up each arch and then allow to open again, so that they curve down.Cut 6 circles from the scraps of gold card and glue these to the ends of the ‘arches’.Bend your crown around so it fits your head and staple or tape to secure.

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This is a great National Geographic Video , about Mardi Gras in New Orleans -to watch with your older students.

http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/kids/history-kids/mardi-gras-kids/

ENJOY!

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