There are two reasons I like Saint Patrick’s Day. I was a huge fan of “The Borrowers” growing up and Leprechauns fit nicely with my visions of magical, little people. The other reason is because it is one of those school days when you can have so much fun with children.
When my children were in preschool we had a little, wooden doll table and bench. About a week before St. Patrick’s Day they would start putting them out on the kitchen counter. We had a miniature mug and plate also so out came the drink and crumbs. Sometimes the next morning, thanks to Mr. Ken Doll’s shoes and a little bit of sprinkled flour, there would be footprints on the counter top leading up to the table and the milk crumbs would be gone. Closer to the actually day, they might find a stick of spearment gum because of its green wrapper. Along the way of eating or being generous, our leprechauns were a little clumsy and always left a bit of a mess. Our family celebration of St. Patrick’s Day ended with a meal of stew, Irish soda bread and shamrock shaped cookies.
When I went back to teaching, the little table, bench, Ken shoes and flour found their way into the classroom. There seemed to be more footprints going more directions and more messes. Always a big hit. Always a lot of speculation.
This year we are on spring break and will miss the wearing of green on a school day. We haven’t let that stop us though. We’ve made leprechaun windsocks and tested them on one of the windiest days we’ve had after we had a discussion about telling wind speed from flags and windsocks. We’ve put decoy leprechauns in ziplock bags and hope while we are out of school the real leprechauns will leave us some gold (chocolate coins, of course) in exchange. Another activity was to cut out a leprechaun hat and pair of shoes. On an 18′ x 24″ piece of paper the hat gets glued to the top and the shoes get glued to the bottom. The children color the body of the leprechaun in between. They usually turn out silly and adorable!
One of the most meaningful activities we did was to write a letter to someone in the class. “I am lucky to know you” was at the top of a green shamrock. I wrote each child’s name on a shamrock. The children randomly picked one. Before they began writing we discussed how to look for the good qualities this person has and tell them in the letter. First graders are insightful and everyone ended up happy when they received their letters.
Did you know blue was the color originally associated with Saint Patrick? Saint Patrick wasn’t Irish either. He was born in Roman Britain and at sometime between the ages of 14-16 was captured by Irish raiders and taken to Ireland to work as a slave. He escaped around the age of 20. He returned years later as a missionary to teach the Irish Pagans about Christianity and used the shamrock to teach the Trinity. He did not drive the snakes out of Ireland. Highly disappointed to find that out. The children always liked that bit of Saint Patrick Day trivia.