Celebrated each year on March 17th, Saint
Patrick's Day commemorates the religious feast day of St. Patrick,
a fifth century Christian missionary.
Born under the name
Maewyn Succat in the year 387, the man we now know as St.
Patrick was kidnapped by raiders as a
boy and sold into slavery in Ireland.
became a shepherd and endured many hardships and trials that led him to a
deep and profound spirituality. According to tradition he escaped
captivity by following the guidance of an angel, then traveled back to his homeland where he entered the church
and became a priest.
After his ordination as a bishop he returned, as a missionary, to
Ireland where he impressed the people with his courage, wisdom, and
compassion -- setting off a wave of conversion that eventually engulfed
the entire island. St. Patrick's legacy includes
numerous legends, most notably his teaching the trinity with a clover leaf
and his driving the snakes out of Ireland.
In America, Saint Patrick's day is celebrated with
great festivity in those cities with a large Irish population.
There it is embraced by Catholics and non-Catholics alike and is often
more a celebration of Irish heritage than a remembrance of good St. Patrick
This lighthearted Irish tale of magic,
greed, and revenge from Caldecott Medal-winning illustrator
Gerald McDermott reminds us that a bit of good luck is never
out of reach-as long as you look for the wee folk. When poor
and jobless Tim O'Toole discovers a group of wee folk, he
knows his bad luck has changed forever. But before he can
enjoy the treasures they give him, Tim has to learn an
How to Catch a Leprechaun.
What I would do with the money from the
pot of gold.
Write a limerick. A limerick is a
five line poem that is usually funny and often quite clever.
The first, second and fifth lines all rhyme with each other,
while the third and fourth lines rhyme together.
Read "Tim O'Toole and the Wee Folk" and
write your own short story about a person who finds a fairy or
leprechaun (remember the "wee folk" are tricksters). Does
he learn a lesson, play a crafty trick of his own, amaze his neighbors?
Does he end up wealthier, a little wiser, or really embarrassed?
Draw some pictures to illustrate your story.
To make your flannel set: print onto iron on
transfer paper, then iron 5 leprechauns and rainbow
transfer onto a sheet of white or light green felt,
following directions on transfer sheets package.
Cut out shapes from felt sheet leaving a wide
margin around each one. Embellish buckles with
gold glitter fabric paint!
Play Hot Potato
For school age and older preschool
children you can play this game as you would musical chairs:
keep passing the potato and whoever is holding it when the music
stops is "out". For toddlers, make a silly game of
pretending the potato is hot and seeing who can pass it really fast.
Vary the game by having them gently toss it to one another.
Note that with toddlers it is not age appropriate to have
someone get "out" -- everyone wins by playing. Also, for
preschoolers and young school age, you can also use this as a
teaching opportunity: "What kinds of things are hot? Can
hot things hurt us? What hot things do we never touch?"
Have a Shamrock
This is an old
favorite for preschoolers. Cut out lots of shamrock shapes
from construction paper or tag board and let the children take
turns, with one child hiding the shamrocks while the others wait
inside. Then the "shamrock hunters" run outside (or in the
next room) to find all the shamrocks. Some of the kids will
want to play this several times.
HINT: It helps
to have an adult hide the shamrocks the first time -- this gets the
game off to an exciting start and models possible/appropriate hiding
places. Don't forget to adjust the difficulty level for the
age group. Toddlers will need the shamrocks placed in plain
sight while older ones enjoy more challenge. You will want to
set the boundaries before the games begins to make sure the children
use gentle behavior and don't hunt/hide in inappropriate places.
Includes Shamrock templates to print
onto cardstock. Can use paper shamrocks, tapes onto straws or
with Velcro for the flannel board -- or use as a patterns to cut
shamrocks out of green felt.
One green shamrock, in the
morning dew, Another one sprouted, and then there were two.
Two green shamrocks,
growing beneath a tree; Another one sprouted, and then there were three.
Three green shamrocks, by
the cottage door; Another one sprouted, and then there were four.
Four green shamrocks, near
a beehive Another one sprouted, and then there were five.
Five little shamrocks,
bright and emerald green, Think of all the luck these shamrocks will bring.
A fun science related activity for
young preschoolers! In this simple activity for each
child you will squirt a dollop of shaving cream on a table, or
other easy to clean surface that is hard and smooth, such as a
baking tray. Add in a few drops of yellow food coloring and a
few drops of blue food coloring. (Ideally you would let the
children do this themselves with small eyedroppers, but only if
staining of clothing and floors is not an issue.) Now let the
children play with the shaving cream and mix the colors!
Be sure to let the children play as
long as they like with the shaving cream, experimenting with poking,
slathering, and making all manner of squiggly shapes in the cream.
You can play along side them and promote conversation about how the
shaving cream feels, smells, and responds. This is a great
activity for open ended art play, as they can draw and sculpt in
endless experimentation. But it's also a great way to build
vocabulary and brain development. In fact, we know that
talking about sensory activities the children are engaged in
actually helps build synapses that connect the left and right
hemispheres of the brain!
March is a great time to learn about
rainbows as the weather is often unsettled, shift from sudden
showers to bring rain -- excellent rainbow weather. Plus
we can tie in the legend of the leprechaun's pot of gold at the end
of the rainbow for added fun. For rainbow science, think about
color mixing, using prisms to refract light
Explore such basic physics principles
as force, motion, simple machines, and levers while trying to build
your own leprechaun trap. Adapt this for younger children by
letting imagination run wild -- and by setting actual mechanical
principles aside (i.e. the traps may not work, but they'll still be
fun and inventive).
No Snakes in Ireland?
Talk about the legend that claims
St. Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland and the fact that zoologists say there
were never snakes in Ireland
-- or New Zealand, Iceland, or Greenland. (Read: "Why
Ireland Has No Snakes" to find out why.)
Use this as an opportunity also to talk about snake physiology and
behaviors (adapt for age group). Discuss
different types and show pictures. Ask students if
they've seen any snakes and what they think about them. "Are
they just bad guys, or do they actually have a helping job in
nature? Would it be better if there were no snakes,
any where in the world?"
Point out that many snakes are
nonpoisonous and that they have a necessary role in nature --
keeping down the number of rodents and other small creatures.
This keeps frogs, mice, rabbits from becoming so over populous that
they don't have enough food to go around and end up starving to
death in large numbers. It also helps farmers by cutting down on animals that
eat their crops. If there were no snakes, some other creature
would have to do their job. Snakes are also preyed upon by
other animals, such as the mongoose. Also emphasize the grace of the
snake. Have younger students practice moving like a snake.
Perhaps do a bit of yoga with the "cobra position".
(Further reading: "
from the Children's Health Encyclopedia.)
Captivating, glossy photographs
charm students to read and research more than 60 types of snakes,
ranging from adders to yellow anacondas.
This richly formatted book
features each snake in detailed entries with informative, readable
text. Glossary, Index, Snake Directory.
Illustrated with photographs. 192pp.
Introduced to the Irish in 1590,
after European explorers brought them from the New World, potatoes
soon became an important staple food for the Irish. By the
time the potato famine hit, in 1845, the Irish diet consisted
chiefly of potatoes and buttermilk.
Talk about the nutrition of the
potato and what it gives our body, as well as the different ways it is prepared.
Don't forget to mention how harmful fat creeps in -- a 4 ounce
potato has 75 calories, but 4 ounces of fries provide 250 calories!
Let kids get hands on with cooking and eating. Try such
dishes as baked potatoes, boiled red potatoes with butter, hash
brown potatoes (hit Costco for a large bag that can be baked up in
cheesy potato soup, mashed
potato bread, potato chips, or
You can also talk about -- and try --
potato growing. After all, in Ireland potatoes were
traditionally planted around the time of St. Patrick's Day!
Don't worry about ordering potato seeds! All you need are some
old, raw potatoes with plenty of eyes.
Click here to learn more.
See theEarth's Kids Gardeningpage for more about
gardening for kids!
Two Potato Clock runs on potatoes,
fruit, plants, soft drinks, even beer. Bi-metal probes
convert natural ingredients to low voltage. Just connect
wire to power source. Powers a ˝" high LED clock. 5 ˝" x 9"
x 2 ˝".
March is the perfect time for
starting seedlings indoors in a warm, sunny window sill.
Purchase a collection of flower seed packets, in a rainbow of
colors. Read "Planting a Rainbow" by Lois Ehlert, to
excite the children about the beautiful rainbow of colors that
flowers have when blooming. The book will also inspire seed
Give children small containers
love to save and wash the plastic bowls and trays from fast food
meals for this). Moisten the potting soil so it is
damp and clumpy but not "soupy". Allow them to fill containers
with potting soil. (Please note that organic potting soil
may contain bacteria and so is not advisable for use with small
children in the daycare or preschool setting, unfortunately.)
Then let them select seeds they
would like to use. You may want to drop a few seed in their
hands, as small children may dump most of the packet making it hard
to have enough to go around. Show them how to poke a hole in
the potting soil and drop the seedlings in. In larger
containers they can draw a deep line in the soil and then sprinkle
their seeds in this planting row. Cover the containers
with plastic wrap and place in the warm window sill. Remove
plastic when seeds sprout. Water as needed to keep soil from
becoming overly dry. When seedlings are a few inches high,
children may transplant to a flower pot or, window box, or garden
plot. See theEarth's Kids Gardeningpage for more about
gardening for kids!
Presented by the History Channel,
this free online video provides a brief but informative overview of
the life of St. Patrick and his significance to the Irish people.
Their web page also features a brief text overview as well as
history of the holiday.
All you need is some thick cardstock
paper, your printer, and a willingness to follow directions.
Insert a piece of cardstock paper in your printer,
print the decorative template onto
your paper (you will need to right click on the
image and select "print"), and then
instructions to fold it into a 3
Make Your Own "Mr. Potato Head"
with growing "hair"!
Your potato will stand
longwise, so it is tall and narrow (not short and wide).
Slice enough off the bottom off the potato so it will stand
upright. Next slice a little off the top of the potato;
scoop out a hollow out of the top. You'll create a small
reservoir that's about two inches deep. Before
planting in your potato you'll want to decorate it with a potato
face. Remember the reservoir will be the top (the hair
will grow from here).
To create a face, use craft eyes with
"brads" hot glued to the back. (See products at
Other face parts could be cut out of vegetable pieces (carrot
for nose, etc.) and stuck on with toothpicks. We like to
use thick craft glue (such as Tacky Glue) and glue on a button
nose or craft pom pom. And a yarn mouth! Remember,
for children, let the activity be open-ended! There is no
wrong way to decorate the face if they enjoy the wacky end
Now fill your potato head planter
with moistened vermiculite
(available at your garden supply store). Then plant grass seeds
in the vermiculite. Cover the top with a small square of
plastic wrap. Place your planter in a warm sunny window to
sprout. Once it sprouts, remove the plastic wrap.
Water the grass when the
vermiculite becomes dry. Your head
will grow a healthy head of "hair" that will thrive as long as it
gets water and light. For extra fun, get out some small
scissors when the "hair" gets long and give it a trim!
Don't forget to take pictures so you can remember how it grew,
and compare the different stages. You could even write
down the day you planted on the calendar and see how long the
process takes. Get out a ruler and measure the growth!
Cut out a large potato shape for the
body/head of the little man (think of the Mr. Potato Head doll).
You can use construction paper, but you can get great results
using a piece of sandpaper. (Be sure not to use your best
two long strips of green construction paper for legs, two
thinner and shorter shapes for arms, plus two little hand shapes
and two little boot shapes. Fold the paper strips
over at the end, then fold again the opposite direction.
Continue until you've made each strip into little accordion
folded shaped "springs".
Glue or tape the paper strips
onto the back bottom of the man. Glue the boots on
the other end. Repeat with arms and hands, joining arms to
sides of the potato. Then let the kids glue on eye, draw a
Very cute. A little green bowler hat is a fun addition.
Cut a 2 inch wide strip of green
construction paper for the headband (you may need to tape to
strips end to end, if using the smaller sized paper). Fit
headband to individual child to fit, and then tape ends
securely. Cut two large shamrocks out of remaining scraps
and tape or staple them onto the headband. Children can
decorate headbands with stickers, markers, glitter, etc.
Be sure to write their names on the inside if this is a group
If your kids like homemade
biscuits, they'll love this festive holiday version! All you
need is a box of Bisquick baking mix (low fat works great), plus
milk, shamrock shaped cookie cutters, and green food coloring.
Follow the directions on the box -- adding the food coloring to the
milk, for even distribution, before adding the Bisquick.
Then roll out the dough on a floured surface, wax paper, or pastry
paper. Cut with the shamrock cutters and bake according to
Bisquick directions. Bakes up in about 5-9 minutes, and they