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Mardi Gras masks for creative kids

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The best part of teaching is seeing creativity and imagination at work in the preschool classes. Children enjoy bringing their unique talents to the creation of any projects, and nothing is more popular than a mask. There are countless examples of great ideas online. Being Mardi Gras season, we celebrate the mask by sharing a few different ways to create this project:

1. Construction paper mask. This is the least costly version, and by giving children a couple of different templates and blunt scissors, coupled with 'found' materials, they can make these masks to their heart's content. Cut out a basic mask shape - rounded or other shapes - and cut out eye holes in the appropriate places. Have children color them with crayons, markers or glitter glue, adding feathers, sequins, cloth flowers or other embellishments to make them their own. Then staple on elastic string and have your own Mardi Gras parade. Note: These are the least durable of the mask suggestions and if young children use marker or too many decorations, they may not stand up to actually being worn. Two layers of construction paper is recommended. Then you can glue the feathers between the two layers and the mask will stand up better to being worn in a parade.
2. File folder, thin cardboard or poster paper masks. These are slightly more durable than those using construction paper. As in the first example, cut out or have the children cut out the mask shapes before decorating with their choice of sparkles, feathers, flowers, etc. If not over-glued, these can be stapled to craft sticks/straws or thin wooden dowels to make a hand-held mask. This is easier to do than to shape them to be worn on the face. You can use 2 layers of thin cardboard or poster paper to make them stronger.
3. Paper plate masks. These can be quite long-lasting if treated gently. Some children in my class were able to wear them for a couple of different parades. Cut a paper plate in half and shape into a 'mask' shape. Punch holes about 1 inch from each corner to attach yarn or elastic string, or staple to a craft stick/heavy straw for a hand-held mask, depending upon each child's preference. These can be painted with a thin tempera paint, colored with crayon or marker or simply decorated with glitter gel and other fancy decorations. Perfect when paired with a ...
4. Mardi Gras Necklace. Pony beads (for older children), wooden beads, colored elbow macaroni or even Cheerios can be strung on yarn or plastic string to make individual necklaces to be work with any of the masks. This is a wonderful fine-motor activity for the classroom.

Suggestion: Buy an inexpensive 'boa' or lei at the Dollar Store for each child to add more glamour to the parade. Playing home-made instruments such as tissue box 'guitars,' paper towel rain sticks or shakers and paper plate "tambourines" can make the event even more fun.

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