Celebrating Mardi Gras with the Bourbon Street Band!

Since my daughter was born, my parents have started a new tradition where they bring her a book from the places that they visit on their trips. They include a note about their visit and the things they saw there. I love that she will have this collection of special books from all over, and this special connection with her grandparents. While they were traveling through New Orleans, they picked up Ed Shankman’s book The Bourbon Street Band is Back, about the power of music and the strength of New Orleans.

While today’s book isn’t a book about Mardi Gras, it is a book about the city of New Orleans and the beauty of the music and the fun atmosphere found there. Once a year, Mardi Gras brings everyone’s attention to New Orleans. The colors, the food, the music and the beads provide a fun and colorful experience which can be fun to introduce to kids in a family friendly way. There are so many great Mardi Gras activities for kids and families to enjoy together.

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The Bourbon Street Band Is Back is a story written by Ed Shankman and illustrated by Dave O’Neill. The story follows Bobcat Bob and the Bourbon Street Band, a New Orleans band who are so great that they raise the sun with their music. One night, the great New Orleans loses it’s voice. But the healing power of music and the perseverance of the city of New Orleans shine through in this story. With beautiful illustrations showcasing the fun festivities in New Orleans, this is a great way to introduce some Mardi Gras fun to your kids.


Mardi Gras Masks – Using purple, green or yellow paper, trace your child’s handprint onto two of the colors. Cut them out and glue the bottom of the hands together with the fingers pointing out. Cut a hold in the palm of each hand and let kids decorate their masks with whatever craft supplies they like. When their masks have dried, glue a straw or popsicle stick to the back of the mask so they can hold it in front of their faces. I used a bent straw on the back of my daughter’s mask, which helps the mask stay rigid enough for her to hold it up.

Celebrate Mardi Gras like the Bourbon Street Band!

Noisemakers – Since this book tells the story of the Bourbon Street Band, it’s the perfect opportunity to use Mardi Gras beads to make music! Place necklaces into empty water bottles to create shakers. Put beads in between two paper plates and staple the plates together to make tambourines. Let kids decorate them in Mardi Gras colors and have your own parade!

Jazz Music – This book provides a great opportunity to introduce kids to the music of New Orleans. Talk about the instruments the characters in the book play and find videos online of these instruments being played. You can also find music online to have your own Mardi Gras party, complete with your masks, noisemakers and beads! There are some great albums available to stream from Amazon Prime, or there are several Mardi Gras themed albums you can purchase.

Eat some delicious King’s Cake!

King’s Cake – King’s Cake is a cake with a long history and many different variations. People eat different varieties of this cake all over the  world. While it is eaten at many celebrations, it is very popular during Mardi Gras, and is decorated in green, yellow and purple. The King’s Cake has a small figurine baked inside of it (usually a small baby to represent baby Jesus), and the person who gets the piece with the figurine inside gets luck and prosperity for the coming year. There are many recipes online for various types of King’s Cake. We made a quick version using refrigerated cinnamon rolls. Bake the cinnamon rolls in a springform pan according to the package directions. When the rolls have cooled, decorate with the frosting included. Use green, yellow and purple sprinkles to decorate the icing.

Have some fun with Mardi Gras Beads!

Beads Sensory TableMardi Gras beads provide a fun sensory experience for kids (with proper supervision!). Provide kids with a bunch of bead necklaces in bright colors, either in a bin or on the floor. Encourage them to play with the beads, sort them by color, or put them into containers and pour them out. My daughter loved placing them into an old puffed cereal container and dumping them back out again. You can also place a few necklaces in an empty bottle and fill with corn syrup or baby oil to create a fun sensory bottle.

Edible Mardi Gras Necklaces – Use different foods to create an edible Mardi Gras necklace, while also developing fine motor skills. Provide kids with a colored cereal (like Froot Loops) or hollow colored candies (like Twizzlers), and a piece of string. Have them string their cereal or candies onto their necklace. This also provides a great opportunity to review patterns with kids.

Bead Shapes – Mardi Gras necklaces can also be used to review shapes with kids. I placed our necklaces on the floor and made them into basic shapes for my daughter to identify. She loves finding and pointing out basic shapes right now, so this was a fun way to review them. You could also have kids try to make shapes on their own.

Mardi Gras is an event that is full of great music, bright colors, good food and fun. There are so many great Mardi Gras activities for kids, and this book provides them with an introduction to the city of New Orleans, and the fun festivities that take place there.


  • Lindsay Rosasco

    February 20, 2017 at 8:27 am

    oooh, fun post! This reminds me of the movie The Princess and the Frog – my little one would love this!

    • Vicki

      February 20, 2017 at 1:00 pm

      Thank you! We are huge Disney fans. I love the music in that movie! I hope she enjoys it!

  • Jalisa

    February 20, 2017 at 8:31 am

    That kings cake looks super yummy. I’ve never celebrated Mardi Gras but it sure looks fun.

    • Vicki

      February 20, 2017 at 1:01 pm

      We don’t celebrate it usually, but we do partake in some of the seasonal goodies (like Fasnachts!). I remember learning about it when I was younger and I just love the colors and the music.

  • Meg

    February 20, 2017 at 8:44 am

    These are such great ideas! I always like the idea of introducing my kids to fun cultural traditions like Mardi Gras, but so much of Mardi Gras isn’t super kid friendly. These ideas are perfect!

    • Vicki

      February 20, 2017 at 1:02 pm

      Thank you! I remember learning about it as a kid, but of course we didn’t know about the other parts of Mardi Gras. I just love the music and the colors and the foods. There are so many ways to make it kid friendly!

  • Lauren | also known as mama

    February 20, 2017 at 8:47 am

    Cute! I have the hand-print mask!

    • Vicki

      February 20, 2017 at 1:03 pm

      Thank you! My daughter loves playing with hers and dressing it up with her beads!

  • Kia

    February 20, 2017 at 8:58 am

    I love New Orleans!!! For our daughters 3rd birthday party we had mask making supplies available and I am not sure who had more fun, the parents or the kids. I love the idea of making shapes from the beads!

    • Vicki

      February 20, 2017 at 1:04 pm

      Haha, I think everyone has fun playing with masks and beads!

  • Kate

    February 20, 2017 at 9:20 am

    I love the idea of using beads in the sensory table, my little would have a lot of fun with that! And also, I basically need cinnamon rolls now, so thanks for that, haha!

    • Vicki

      February 20, 2017 at 1:05 pm

      Haha, sorry about that! It’s kind of a problem that they are super easy and fast to make. My daughter loves playing with the beads. Hope yours has fun with them too!

  • Meredith

    February 20, 2017 at 9:52 am

    These are such great ways to celebrate mardis gras! Honestly it’s a holiday (festivity?!) that I always kind of forget about!! But I love those masks…how fun! Some day we’ll get down there to see what it’s all about 🙂

    • Vicki

      February 20, 2017 at 1:06 pm

      I have actually never been to Mardi Gras, but I love the food and the music and colors from afar! It usually sneaks up on me too. Hope you are able to have some fun with it!

  • Jessica Peresta

    February 20, 2017 at 10:18 am

    This is adorable! I have so much family who live in Louisiana so we love us some Mardi Gras activities.

    • Vicki

      February 20, 2017 at 1:08 pm

      Thank you! I love the music and the colors and the foods, so I figured we could enjoy it from afar!

  • Leah

    February 20, 2017 at 1:02 pm

    I love this tradition!! What an incredible way to share your travels and grow a book collection!

    • Vicki

      February 20, 2017 at 1:18 pm

      My parents are trying to visit all 50 states, along with some other countries, so I’m always excited to see what books they manage to find on their travels!

  • Elizabeth Voyles

    February 20, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    I love the idea of buying books about the places you’ve traveled! That is such a fun way to remember trips or teach kiddos about other places. Looks like a good book too.

    • Vicki

      February 20, 2017 at 2:10 pm

      I am so glad they decided to start this tradition for her. It is so cool to see the different books they have been able to find!

  • Mary Barham

    February 20, 2017 at 3:05 pm

    We live about a hour from NOLA, so we have def gotten to experience Mardi Gras!! This is so perfect! I have been visiting your site often…. and I have to ask… are you or were you a librarian?? YOU seriously have knowledge of the BEST books! I have purchased a few, and my kids love them all!

    • Vicki

      February 20, 2017 at 8:40 pm

      Aw, thank you so much! I’m so glad you have enjoyed all of the books. I wasn’t a librarian, but I got my Masters in Education and the courses on children’s literature were my favorite!

  • Tyane

    February 20, 2017 at 3:44 pm

    I love the idea of using cinnamon rolls for making the king cake! It’s also a dream of mine to visit New Orleans during Mardi Gras.

    • Vicki

      February 20, 2017 at 8:50 pm

      I would love to visit during Mardi Gras too! For now, we will celebrate from afar!

  • Mamaguru

    February 20, 2017 at 4:37 pm

    Cute masks! I’ve never had a Mardi Gras book for my kids, but we celebrate it every year. I make gumbo for dinner and Bananas Foster Bread Pudding for dessert. They we wear masks and beads and dance to zydeco in the living room. Can’t wait to check out the book you mentioned.

    • Vicki

      February 20, 2017 at 8:51 pm

      That all sounds amazing! I want to have a party like that for Mardi Gras! I will have to do that with my daughter when she is a bit older.

  • Elle

    February 20, 2017 at 4:46 pm

    How fun are those masks? I could totally imagine us chowing down on King Cake with those on. Great ideas!

    • Vicki

      February 20, 2017 at 8:53 pm

      Thank you! My daughter had a lot of fun with her mask and loved the King Cake!

  • All Babied Up

    February 20, 2017 at 6:54 pm

    So much fun! What a great idea for Mardi Gras!

    • Vicki

      February 20, 2017 at 8:53 pm

      Thank you!

  • Julie

    February 20, 2017 at 8:36 pm

    It all looks so fun and delicious! A great way to celebrate it with kids!!!

    • Vicki

      February 20, 2017 at 8:55 pm

      Thank you! We had a lot of fun!

  • Michele

    February 20, 2017 at 9:26 pm

    Honestly I would have never thought of putting babies and Mardi Gras in the same sentence, but this really looks like a blast. A great way to teach kids about the culture of New Orleans without the liquor 🙂

    • Vicki

      February 20, 2017 at 11:30 pm

      I think there is so much fun to be had with Mardi Gras, and there is so much kids can learn from it (without the other stuff)!

  • Merichelle Jones

    February 20, 2017 at 10:45 pm

    That is the cutest book ever!! And I love all your Mardi Gras themed kid activities, they are all so creative! Especially the edible necklaces and mask! So fun 🙂
    Merichelle | http://werethejoneses.com

    • Vicki

      February 20, 2017 at 11:31 pm

      Thank you! We had a lot of fun with it!

  • Kate

    February 20, 2017 at 11:00 pm

    What a neat tradition your parents have! I think my son would love walking around with this mask on…I may have to make it for him though haha!

    • Vicki

      February 20, 2017 at 11:32 pm

      I love that they have this tradition with her! And I had to do the work for my daughter’s as well, but she loved playing with it!

  • Kathy

    February 21, 2017 at 7:46 am

    I love that tradition of bringing something back from places they visit. When we travel, we send our close family and friends magnets from where we’ve been. They are small enough that they don’t take up too much space and everyone has room on their fridge for some fun decorations. This book looks like fun!

    • Vicki

      February 21, 2017 at 1:09 pm

      That’s awesome! I always wanted to start a collection like that. A friend of mine collects thimbles and her sister collects the collectible spoons, but I never found one to collect! I love the magnet idea though! I may have to start doing theat!

  • Lisa

    February 21, 2017 at 9:42 am

    These are fantastic ideas! Thank you so much for sharing.

    • Vicki

      February 21, 2017 at 1:15 pm

      Thank you!

  • Laura {The Rambling Ramnaths}

    February 21, 2017 at 9:54 am

    I love that your parents do that for your daughter! It’s such a great idea. I think is so great how you take a book and make a fun learning lesson out of it!

    • Vicki

      February 21, 2017 at 1:16 pm

      Thank you! I love that they started that tradition too!

  • Carola

    February 21, 2017 at 10:15 am

    These looks like fun activities!
    I love the masks and the Kind cake with cinnamon roles is awesome!

    • Vicki

      February 21, 2017 at 1:16 pm

      Thank you! We had a lot of fun with it!

  • Elizabeth Brico

    February 21, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    We’re making these masks today! They are too cute!! Thank you for all of these great book and activity ideas. We live in Seattle so Spring means beauty but it also means lots of WET. Good indoor activities are very useful!

    • Vicki

      February 21, 2017 at 1:17 pm

      I’m so glad! I hope you have a lot of fun with them!

  • Ayana

    February 21, 2017 at 1:19 pm

    What a cool tradition!! I’ll have to suggest this to my family too! I’m having a mardi gras toddler party next week so I’m soaking in all your tips!

    • Vicki

      February 21, 2017 at 1:43 pm

      That sounds like so much fun!

  • Julie McCullough

    February 21, 2017 at 2:10 pm

    The masks are so cute!

    • Vicki

      February 21, 2017 at 2:58 pm

      Thank you!

  • Melissa

    February 21, 2017 at 2:39 pm

    I love that tradition! I actually do the same for my son with all my business trips 🙂 These books and activities are perfect for Mardi Gras.

    • Vicki

      February 21, 2017 at 2:58 pm

      That is awesome! He will have such a great collection!

  • Aleksandra

    February 21, 2017 at 5:21 pm

    I wish we celebrated Mardi Gras here.

    • Vicki

      February 21, 2017 at 6:45 pm

      We don’t really celebrate it, but we partake in some of the fun from afar!

  • Sally

    February 21, 2017 at 6:03 pm

    What an awesome way to celebrate and learn about Mardis Gras! I’ll have my king cake roll with a cup of super hot coffee, please. Thank you!

    • Vicki

      February 21, 2017 at 6:47 pm

      I definitely wanted to pair it with coffee! They just go so well together!

  • Ashly J

    February 21, 2017 at 7:27 pm

    This is such a cute idea for a fun educational filled day! Thanks for so many great suggestions.

    • Vicki

      February 21, 2017 at 9:29 pm

      I hope you have fun with them!

  • Jacq

    February 22, 2017 at 2:16 am

    Wow! That looks like a lot of fun! You’ve written some fantastic tips in here! Thanks for the ideas. xx



    • Vicki

      February 22, 2017 at 1:32 pm

      Thank you! I hope you enjoy them!

  • Idriss

    February 22, 2017 at 8:39 am

    I love the idea of that cake ! Looks like so much fun

    • Vicki

      February 22, 2017 at 1:33 pm

      Thank you! We had a lot of fun with it!

  • Chanel van Reenen

    February 22, 2017 at 10:29 am

    That King Cake is screaming my name! Such a cute round up of activities!

    • Vicki

      February 22, 2017 at 1:34 pm

      Thank you! I hope you make it and enjoy it!

  • tineke - workingmommyabroad

    February 22, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    So fun! Thanks for these ideas, love them!

    • Vicki

      February 22, 2017 at 1:34 pm

      Thank you!

  • Justine Y @ Little Dove

    February 22, 2017 at 2:02 pm

    I love the idea of bringing books back as souvenirs with notes written inside! I might have to start doing that. 🙂 Love all these fun activities for celebrating Mardi Gras with your littles, and I’ll have to see if I can find that book!

    • Vicki

      February 22, 2017 at 2:16 pm

      It is a really great tradition! I hope you have fun with these activities!

  • Belle

    February 22, 2017 at 3:37 pm

    Love these ideas! The mask is so cute! I bet my kids will love that!

    Belle | One Awesome Momma

    • Vicki

      February 22, 2017 at 9:03 pm

      Thank you! I hope they have fun with it!

  • Breyona Sharpnack

    February 22, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    I loved your suggestions for Valentine’s day so I was eager to see if you were going to post for Mardi Gras! I love it! the crafts and King’s cake buns look very creative and straight forward. Great post as usual!

    • Vicki

      February 22, 2017 at 9:04 pm

      Thank you so much! I’m so glad you liked them! I hope you have fun with them.

  • rochella

    February 22, 2017 at 6:16 pm

    You have some very creative DIY. I love the mask idea.

    • Vicki

      February 22, 2017 at 9:05 pm

      Thank you!

  • Corey | The Nostalgia Diaries

    February 23, 2017 at 12:03 am

    I used to love King Cakes – your cinnamon roll version seems so easy and just as fun!

    • Vicki

      February 23, 2017 at 1:00 pm

      Thanks! They were really fast and easy to make!

  • Clare @ Budget Mums

    February 23, 2017 at 7:08 pm

    I love the idea of having books brought back from trips! I will have to suggest it next time my parents ask what to bring my son back from a holiday! Thanks for the tip!

    • Vicki

      February 23, 2017 at 9:15 pm

      I love that my parents started that tradition for her! It’s such a special way to include her on their travels.

  • Tabitha

    February 24, 2017 at 8:17 am

    Oh how fun! I love how you brought Mardi Gras into your learning day. And that book idea their grandparents do is admirable. What a great way to collect books! -Tabitha #fandayfriday

    • Vicki

      February 24, 2017 at 2:16 pm

      Thanks! I love that they started that tradition with her!

  • Jennifer Corter

    February 24, 2017 at 5:37 pm

    What a cool book! I love all of the activity ideas too!

    • Vicki

      February 24, 2017 at 10:02 pm

      Thank you!

  • Hil

    February 25, 2017 at 11:28 pm

    Wow who knew there were so many awesome activities to do with little ones for Mardi graw. So cool!

    Thanks for linking up at #bloggerspotlight

    • Vicki

      February 25, 2017 at 11:32 pm

      Thank you for reading!

  • Fi Morrison

    February 27, 2017 at 12:35 am

    I started collecting picturebooks from around the world too! I’ve got New Orleans, Indonesia, Sri Lanka… so great to find out the culture, experiences and histories of different places around the world. Haven’t heard of this book, but sounds great! And those Kind Cakes look amazing!!

    • Vicki

      February 27, 2017 at 1:17 pm

      Thank you! I think it is such a cool tradition to gather books from all over the world! I’m so excited for the collection my daughter will have.

  • Amanda

    March 1, 2017 at 12:25 am

    My daughters have recently become obsessed with masquerade masks, so I’m really excited to do your hand print mask craft with them. Thanks for sharing!

    • Vicki

      March 1, 2017 at 2:01 pm

      Aw, I am so glad! I hope you have a lot of fun with them!