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.

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!

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.

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. This is one of my daughter’s favorite games and she is constantly finding new ways to play it. Currently, she loves to create shape paths and jump from shape to shape.

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.


90 comments on “Celebrating Mardi Gras with the Bourbon Street Band!

    • 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.

  1. 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!

    • 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!

  2. 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!

  3. 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!

    • 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!

  4. 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 🙂

    • 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!

    • 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!

  5. 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!

    • 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!

  6. 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.

    • 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.

  7. 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 🙂

  8. 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!

    • 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!

  9. 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!

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



  11. 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!

  12. 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!

  13. 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

  14. 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!!

    • 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.

  15. 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!

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