St. Patrick's Day Activities
In keeping with my blogs of holidays past, I would like to offer you some quick, fun and simple ideas to use with your students to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. These activities cover a wide spectrum of academic lessons such as rhyming, estimation, writing, blends, surveys, graphs, higher order thinking, cooperative learning, science experiments, word play, and class books to ensure varied learning opportunities for your students.
You can use any and all of the following activities to help make your St. Patrick’s Day unit spectacular!
- For a fun introduction and throughout the theme play Irish bagpipes, Celtic Songs and Irish musicians such as U2 or Sinead O’Connor. Music is a great way to get students centered and focused. Locate Ireland on a map and discuss it’s relation to where you life. Have books on Ireland available to read to students and for them to explore. Retell the story of St. Patrick’s Day and/ or watch a clip from Discovery Education Streaming if you have access to that. St. Patrick's Day by Gail Gibbons is another option for an excellent introductory book. Afterwards, students can write any facts they learn on shamrock cutouts to display and review. Perhaps your school library may have a video on Irish American Heritage to show.
- Label index cards with rhyme family words. Lay one card face up on student’s desk. Students can walk around while Irish music plays and then has to stop when music stops. Choose one student to read the card on the desk they stopped at, and think of a rhyming word to match it or they are out.
- After I have gotten the rhyme juices flowing, I like to have students work individually, in partners, or in teams to list words that rhyme with snake, green, rock, Irish, gold and rainbow.
- Begin to create a class word list or book with these themed words: blarney, cabbage, capture, catch, Emerald isle, enchanted, elf, Erin, four leaf clover, gold, green, hide, holiday, hunt, Ireland, lad, lass, leprechaun, lucky, magic, mushroom, potato, pot of gold, St. Patrick, rainbow, shamrock, shillelagh, silver, tiny, toadstool, wee, wishes.
Who has green eyes?
Who has ever found a four-leaf clover?
Do you believe in Leprechauns?
- On St. Patrick’s Day when everyone wears green create a class graph answering the question “Where is your green?” Other graph options include: What is your favorite green animal or food? You can read Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham to correspond with the last graph idea.
- Label index cards with blends. Lay one blend card face up on student’s desk. Students can walk around while Irish music plays and then has to stop when music stops. Choose one student to read the blend on the card on the desk they stopped at, and think of a word that begins with that blend or they are out.
- Brainstorm a list of “sh” words with your class. Write words in a large shamrock cut-out and have students write a story trying to use as many “sh” words as they can or choose 3 to write one sentence with and focus on using exciting adjectives. Here are some “sh” word examples you could use: shabby, shack, shade, shades, shadow, shaggy, shake (2 meanings), shallow, shampoo, shape, sharpie, share, shark, sharp, shatter, shave, shawl, shed, sheep, sheer, sheet, shelf, shell, sheriff, shimmer, shine, ship, shirt, shiver, shock, shoe, shook, shoot, shop, shore, short, shorts, shoulder, shout, shove, shovel, show, shower, shrink, shred, shriek, shrimp, shrug, shuffle, shut and shy. You could also use words with “sh” in the middle or end of a word.
- For a fun math estimation game, fill a wide-mouthed bowl with pennies. Have students secretly estimate how many pennies they could grab in one hand and then write it down on a piece of scrap paper. Let each student have a “grab” and then have them count and match the result to their estimation. You could use actual pennies or plastic money. Another option is to let each student keep their pennies and glue on paper decorated by them titled “Erin’s Gold”. Extend the activity by challenging students to estimate how many hexagon blocks, marbles etc. they could grab, would it be more or less, and why?
- Cut out medium sized shamrocks and number them as many as you have students in class. Place them face down on student’s desks. Play Irish music and have the students march around the desks. When the music stops, each students looks at their shamrock. The student with the lowest (or highest or 5+2 or 8-4, or one more then 15, or one before 3 etc.) number is out.
- Begin to spur student’s ideas by talking about things that come in 2’s (especially on your body). Begin a “What Comes In 3’s” list. After students add some ideas, you could watch the video segment “3 is a Magic Number” from Schoolhouse Rocks, and then add more to the list. You can also read book “What Comes in 2’s, 3’s & 4’s”, and then add more to list. When the list is complete, have each student illustrate one and organize it into a class book. List of things that come in threes: tricycle, 3 traffic light colors, 3 colors on the US flag, 1,2,3 Go, 3 wishes, 3 wise men, 3 amigos, Playstation III, sides on a triangle, 3 Stooges, 3 Blind Mice, 3 Legged Race 3 Ring Circus, 3 Wheeler, 3 Point Landing, 3 Cheers, 3 Strikes & You're Out, 3 Cornered Hat, 3 Is A Crowd, 3 Dimensional, 3 Point Play, 3 Musketeers, 3 R's, 3 Pigs, 3 face cards (jack, king, queen), triple scoop, triple-decker sandwich, tripod, point’s on a number 3, a trident, and the past present & future.
- In keeping with the theme of three, students can complete a math activity alone or in partners where they have to think of three ways to add or subtract to equal a particular number.
- To get students thinking about the color green, place a large piece of green paper on a table. Have students find items throughout the week at home or at school that are the color green to place on top of the paper.
Read Little Blue Little Yellow by Leo Lionni:
- Complete this color demonstration in a large group and then do it again in smaller groups so the students can do it themselves. Fill a shallow dish with water. Add a drop of blue and yellow food coloring at opposite ends of the dish. Then add drops of detergent along the edge also. The soap will disperse the water so the colors mix to make green.
- Individually, students can use colored tissue paper squares dropped in cups to see a similar effect when the color bleeds into the water.
- Cut shamrock shapes out of coffee filter. Let the children drop blue and yellow food colored water onto the cutout. Watch the colors blend to make green.
- Finally, students can then write abut what they discovered in each experiment!
- Create a list of things that are green. Categorize the words by syllables and by placing in alphabetical order. Finally use the words to create a class book where each student is assigned a word and must use it in 3 sentences and illustrate a picture of it. apple, broccoli, bush, cactus, celery, chameleon, Christmas tree, clovers, cucumbers, dinosaur, dollars, dragonfly, evergreen tree, fern, grapes, grass, green beans, jalapeños, jungle, kiwi, lettuce, lizards, leaves, light, leprechaun, olive, parrot, peas, pickle, plants, pears, shamrocks, snakes, spinach, turtle, witches
- Have students move around the room the way that some green animals would move. Here is a list of some animals that are green: lizards, snakes, turtles, dinosaurs, the alfalfa butterfly, chameleon, dragonfly and a parrot. Kids AOL has some color photographs and information you can share with your students.
- Discuss words that contain the word green: green bean, green belt, green beret, green card, green earth, green light, green onion, green peppers, green room, green space, green tea, green thumb, green-eyed monster, green back, greenhouse.
- Discuss green idioms: green with envy, give someone the green light, grass is always greener on the other side, green around the gills and green thumb.
- Discuss different shades of green and ask students how they got their names (lime green, jungle green, olive, green, kelly green, sea green, forest green, emerald green, army green, hunter green, green apple etc.) Wikipedia has a Shades of Green category that shows color templates. A paint store is also a great place to pick up color chips for display.
- Have students brainstorm different ways they can eat potatoes (mashed, fried, au gratin, baked, boiled, scalloped). Create a class graph of student’s favorites, and then play Hot Potato. Students sit in a circle and pass a “potato” around as Irish music plays. When the music stops, the child holding the potato must sit in the middle.
Here are some journaling ideas you can use with your students:
- I am very lucky because….
- If I found a magic 4 leaf clover…
- If I discovered a leprechauns pot of gold…
- One morning I woke up and my skin was green…
- Catching a leprechaun is hard work…
- Today I was soooooo lucky….
- The Littlest Leprechaun (story title)
- There once was a leprechaun who forgot where he hid his pot of gold…
- Once upon a time there was a King (or Queen) that loved the color green…
- The leprechaun lost his magic powers because…
- There was a princess or prince who couldn’t stop laughing…
- My final idea has you creating the illusion that a leprechaun has visited your classroom! You can do this on the first day of the unit or the last as a farewell ending. Surprise student by sprinkling some “magic dust” (green glitter) around the door or windowsill into a closet. Explain that we must have had a visitor overnight and remind students that leprechauns like to make mischief. Follow the trail of glitter leading to a closet or cabinet and look to see if he’s hiding in there. Make a big deal about it when you get ready to open the door and tell students to get ready to catch him. Fling the door open, only to have a note left by the leprechaun, written in green ink of course! Tell students that if they catch him they will get the leprechaun’s pot of gold. Of course, no one will catch him, but throughout the day you can pretend to see a flash of green whiz by and call out. No doubt, some of your students will see it, too. To further promote the ruse, while out at recess or lunch have another teacher come in and upset a few chairs, mix up some other things, write another note to the class with green chalk or marker. By the way, my leprechaun always writes very messy and misspells words! On the last leprechaun flyby, I have him leave some shamrock stickers for everyone to enjoy. At the end of the day, I have the students write about what happened, year to year, it never fails, I get some of the best writing out of this adventure!
Of course Scholastic has organized even more fabulous ideas on their website from other teachers including a fantastic book list. Please take the time to check their St. Patrick's Day Collection out. I loved Andrea J. Spillett's, leprechaun traps!
The important thing is not so much that every child should be taught, as that every child should be given the wish to learn. John Lubbock