St. Patrick: The patron saint
of Ireland and the Irish, St. Patrick was born about 385 A.D. in Northern
Wales. He studied religion in Europe to become a
priest and bishop. He then brought Christianity to the Irish
by teaching in Ireland for 29 years. According to early
Irish tradition, he died on March 17, 461 AD. The anniversary of his death is celebrated
as Saint Patrick's Day. St. Patrick is most known around
the world as driving all the snakes out of Ireland through
The symbol of shamrocks: An Irish tale tells of how
Patrick used the three-leafed shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity.
He used it in his sermons to represent how the Father, the
Son, and the Holy Spirit could all exist as separate elements
of the same entity. His followers adopted the custom of
wearing a shamrock on his feast day.
Green is associated with Saint Patrick's Day because it
is the color of spring, Ireland, and the shamrock. However, this article from National Geographic points out that not all traditions - including wearing green - are observed in Ireland.
Today St. Patrick's Day is celebrated on March 17th by the
Irish as well as many North Americans, with parades, parties, wearing
of green, Irish songs and jigs.
Celebrate with your students by reading Irish folk tales. Ireland's lush and forested landscapes create beautiful backdrops for many stories, including tales of fairies - oops, make that "the good people." Apparently fairies don't like to be called such.
Shamrock: Cut a shamrock from construction
paper. Glue pieces of green variegated tissue paper or scraps
of green paper on shamrock.
with crayons, felt-tipped pens, or paint. Cover shamrock
with glue. Sprinkle with green glitter then remove excess.
Hearty Shamrock: Cut three hearts from green construction
paper. Form shamrock by gluing points of hearts together
on a piece of paper. Draw stem.
Shamrock Prints: Cut green bell peppers in half,
clean out the seeds, dip the cut side into some paint, and
press onto a piece of paper. Voila, shamrock prints!
Green Veggie/Fruit Snack: Prepare a snack
using slices of fresh green vegetables. Use cabbage,
cucumber, avocado, zucchini squash, green bell peppers, and lettuce. How many green fruits can your class name? Think: kiwi, honeydew melon, green apples, green grapes, papayas - bananas start out green!
Shamrock Shake: Blend 1 banana, 2 cups lime sherbet,
and 2 cups milk.
Pot o' Gold Rainbows: Materials needed: (per student)
1 graham cracker, 1 portion blue frosting, 1 mini Reese
cup, 1 pack Skittles. Directions: Students spread frosting
over graham cracker and place Skittles in the shape of a
rainbow. Then place the Reese cup at the end of the rainbow
Baked Potatoes: bake a potato for each student and
have them add garnishes such as green onion, bacon bits,
sour cream, etc.
Potato Pancakes: Materials needed: 1 cup all-purpose
flour, 1/2 tsp. salt, 2 medium potatoes, 2 tbs. melted butter,
milk (You may want to adjust the amount according to your
class size.) Directions: In a large bowl, combine flour
and salt. Mix in potatoes and melted butter until well blended.
Add milk if necessary to obtain a soft, manageable dough.
Break off egg-sized pieces, and roll each piece until it
is paper-thin. Cook on a hot, ungreased griddle until brown
spots appear. Try eating with some sugar and cinnamon sprinkled
on top. Makes 6 pancakes. In Ireland, a potato pancake is often referred to as a "boxty."
Really Easy Irish Soda Bread Recipe
More Traditional Irish
Growing "Shamrocks": Cut shamrock from terry cloth.
Moisten shamrock. Sprinkle with alfalfa seed. Keep moist.
Set in dark place. Allow several days for shamrock to grow.
Set in sunlight for shamrock to turn green.
Leprechaun traps: Collect junk from home (paper towel
rolls, empty containers, tin foil, little boxes various
shapes and sizes, cans, scrap paper, string, sandwich bags,
etc.) Have students dig through all the junk and decide
what they will need for their leprechaun trap. Students
build their traps. (I'd give them a half a day to do this,
and be prepared for a giant mess). Permit students to look
through the junk as they need more items. About half way
through the time that you give your students, gather back
as a class and discuss the strategies that some students
are using, ie: If the leprechaun comes in here...this will
happen... Point out and try to encourage the use of force
and motion. Ask students to set their traps right before
they go home. Lock the doors when all of them have left,
set each trap off and deposit a chocolate gold coin under
Display a map of Ireland and discuss: Ireland
is an island. People who come from Ireland or whose ancestors
came from Ireland are called Irish. An emerald is a precious
stone which is green. Ireland is often called the "Emerald
Isle" because it is so green with vegetation. The color
green symbolizes Ireland and the Irish.
Distribute handfuls of Lucky Charms cereal to
students and have them count, sort out, and identify the
Jamie O'Rourke and the Big Potato, by
Saint Patrick and the Peddler, by Margaret Hodges
St. Patrick's Day, by Gail Gibbons
St. Patrick's Day In the Morning, by Eve Bunting
St. Patricks Day Shamrock Mystery, by Marion Markham
Story Of Saint Patrick, by James A. Janda
Tales Of St Patrick, by Eileen Dunlop
The Definitive St. Patrick's Day Festivity Book,
by Michael James Fallon, Michele Anne Murphy
Irish Night Before Christmas and A Leprechaun's
St. Patrick's Day, by Sarah Kirwan Blazek
Jeremy Bean's St. Patrick's Day, by Alice Schertle
Links & Resources
Irish Culture and Customs
Government of Ireland
The History of St. Patricks Day
Thank you to T2T subscriber, Iram Khan, for contributions to this list.