Skip to main content

Volunteering at Scouts is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing at Scouts. Read more

Discover what this means

Let’s celebrate Caribbean carnival

Make a colourful headband, try some Caribbean flavours and get dancing.

Back to Activities

You’ll need

  • Device to play music
  • Big pieces of card
  • Scissors
  • Sticky tape
  • A4 paper
  • Coloured pens or pencils
  • Craft materials (for example, tissue paper, pipe cleaners, stickers)
  • Glue sticks
  • PVA glue
  • Music from the Caribbean - try calypso or reggae for dancing to
  • Bright, colourful materials and scarves for dressing up (optional)
  • Selection of Caribbean food
  • Picture of Carnival outfits (optional)

Before you begin

  • Ask everyone to bring in something bright and colourful to wear.
  • Have at least a few spare things on hand, to make sure no one is left out.
  • Prepare strips of card as headbands for everyone. Make the front part of the headband larger than the sides, curving up to a point like a crown at the front, so there is lots of space to decorate. Either make the strips long enough to fit around people’s heads, or punch a hole in either end and add string or thread.
  • If you use staples, make sure the flat part will be against people’s heads with the ends on the outside.
  • Gather together colourful craft materials, pencils and pens. You could use craft feathers (or make your own from coloured paper), pom poms, stick-on gems, and colourful sweet wrappers.
  • We’ve shared some ideas for Caribbean foods to try below. Make sure you check for any allergies or dietary requirements before the session.
Story time
  1. Everyone should sit in a circle.
  2. Someone should read Carnival Day by Jess Connett. This story is about visiting a carnival parade.
  3. After reading the story, everyone should take some time to reflect on it as a group.
  4. We’ve included some questions to help you reflect in the pink box below.
  5. After reading the story, take a look at and make our Caribbean crafts and food, and share the Carnival facts.

Carmen had been looking forward to Carnival all month and the day had finally arrived.

At school they had been making costumes to wear on their float. They would parade along the streets in the truck with lots of other children from the area, wearing their brightest clothes.

Behind them would be a long, colourful parade of musicians and dancers. On the sides of the road, all the way along, would be huge crowds waving to Carmen and her friends. It was so exciting!

Other children in Carmen’s class had made colourful crowns with feathers and jewels on them. They had big pompoms and streamers to wave around.

Carmen wanted to look extra special. She made a pair of wings that attached to her wrists with ribbons. They were purple and green and glittery, and they sparkled in the sun.

On the morning of Carnival, Carmen got dressed with Mommy. Mommy had put silver beads in both their braids so they would match. Mommy’s outfit was also silver, and she had a huge headdress with long feathers sticking from the top – yellow, red, pink and blue.

Khadija and her dad, who lived next door, were getting ready in their costumes too. They all walked together down the hill towards the square.

They could hear music already. A calypso band were practising on their shiny steel drums. A different band were playing trumpets. Outside Sean’s house, his grandad was plugging in a huge speaker. Out burst the music – it was so loud it made Carmen’s wings shake!

Mommy and Carmen danced down the hill, stomping their feet to the rhythm until a new rhythm from someone else’s speaker found them.

Carmen and Khadija got onto their float. It was a truck with an open back, wrapped up in ribbons and colourful paper. They held on tightly to the side as the procession began, and the truck slowly drove into the square.

Mommy and her friends were right in front of the float, dancing in time with their feathers all swaying to the music.

When they turned the corner, Carmen could see the crowd waiting in the square. Everyone was cheering! They were dancing to the music as each band passed them, dressed in their most colourful clothes.

Carmen smiled until her cheeks hurt, and danced until her feet hurt. Then she smiled and danced some more. Carnival was the best day of the year.

By Jess Connett

Make Carnival headbands

  1. The person leading the activity should help everyone to learn a bit more about Caribbean Carnival, and the amazing costumes that people wear on Carnival days. We’ve included some information below to help, and you could pick photos of some outfits to show everyone.
  2. Everyone should have a strip of paper or card to decorate, and be able to get to the craft materials.
  3. Everyone should decorate their headband by colouring and sticking.
  4. Adults can help everyone fit their headband and attach the ends together.
  5. Anyone who’s got time to spare could draw a picture of a costume they’d like to wear if they went to Carnival.

Let’s celebrate Carnival!

  1. Everyone should dress up so that they feel like they are at Carnival. They can wear the headband they made and any other colourful clothing or materials available.
  2. The person leading the activity should put on some music, to get everyone into the Carnival spirit.
  3. Everyone can try some food and drink if they want to, and the person leading the activity could tell the group a bit about Caribbean food and drink.
  4. Everyone can have fun parading around the room together, dancing as if they are at Carnival.
  5. Everyone could take turns to show everyone a dance move, for everyone else to copy.

Caribbean food has strong flavours and some popular dishes, like jerk chicken, are spicy. You might not want to go too spicy if people aren’t used to this, but you can still explore flavours of the Caribbean.

Try some tropical fruit flavours, like mango, pineapple and papaya. Snack on plantain chips (crisps) and sip coconut water.

If you’ve got time, you could make a fruity smoothie with coconut milk, or cook popular side dish rice and peas, which uses kidney beans rather than peas. 

For more ideas, you could check out the world foods section of a big supermarket, or see if you’ve got a Caribbean food shop nearby.

  • Carnivals celebrate Caribbean culture and communities. They happen in the Caribbean and lots of different places around the world, at different times of the year.
  • The Caribbean is made up of thousands of islands – some big and some small – with sandy beaches and lots of sunshine. People might have heard of some of the famous islands, like Jamaica and Cuba.
  • At Carnival, everyone gets together for an energetic parade with colourful costumes, dancing and music. You might hear reggae music from Jamaica, and calypso music from Trinidad and Tobago, which might include steel drums.
  • People will enjoy lots of tasty food too. Caribbean food is full of strong flavours, and it uses different ideas from foods found all around the world to make delicious dishes.
  • Other types of carnivals happen around the world too, celebrating different things. They also usually involve parades, dancing and music.

If you’re doing this activity as part of Black History Month, make sure everyone understands that black history is a part of history that people can (and should) learn about all year round. 

This activity has been chosen as it celebrates Black music, food and history.

Black History Month encourages people to think about the contributions, achievements and history of black people, originating in the United States. 

In the UK, we celebrate Black History Month in October. It’s a time to highlight the achievements and people of the Black community, and celebrate their contributions to the UK.


This activity was an opportunity for everyone to respect others by learning more about the people and communities that exist in the world around them, and try new things by tasting food and drink, listening to music and learning about Carnival costumes.

Carnival Day

  • What costumes did Carmen and her class make for the parade?
  • There is lots of dancing on carnival day. What dance moves can you do to join in?

Make Carnival headbands

  • Do you think you’d like to go to Carnival?
  • What costume would you like to wear to Carnival?

Let’s celebrate Carnival

  • Did you enjoy bringing Carnival to our group? What did you like best?
  • Have you been to a carnival? Maybe you’ve been to a Caribbean Carnival or maybe you’ve been to another sort of carnival.
  • Can you think of any other ways that people celebrate things? What do you like to do to celebrate things?


All activities must be safely managed. You must complete a thorough risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Always get approval for the activity, and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.

Active games

The game area should be free of hazards. Explain the rules of the game clearly and have a clear way to communicate that the game must stop when needed. Take a look at our guidance on running active games safely.

Contact games and activities

Make sure everyone understands what contact is acceptable, and monitor contact throughout the activity.


Remember to check for allergies, eating problems, fasting or dietary requirements and adjust the recipe as needed. Make sure you’ve suitable areas for storing and preparing food and avoid cross contamination of different foods. Take a look at our guidance on food safety and hygiene.

Glue and solvents

Always supervise young people appropriately when they’re using glue and solvent products. Make sure there’s plenty of ventilation. Be aware of any medical conditions that could be affected by glue or solvent use and make adjustments as needed.

Everyone could get into groups and create their own dance, then perform it for the rest of the group. Everyone could make their own tropical fruit smoothies, with coconut milk.

  • Make sure you check about any allergies and dietary requirements before the session, and choose some foods that everyone will be able to enjoy.
  • There’s no right way to dance. Everyone can enjoy moving around the space in the best way for them.

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.

Take Carnival home. Get family and friends involved and take some pictures to share at the next session.

Invite everyone to share any experience they have of going to a carnival of any kind, and anything they know about the Caribbean.