If trying to develop lesson plans to incorporate St. Patrick's Day themes into your classroom seems as elusive as catching the little green guy, here are some helpful ideas to get you started.
St. Patrick's Day was not always about wearing green shamrocks and decorating with leprechauns. Have students take a look at St. Patrick himself and the myths and history surrounding what he did for Ireland.
Younger students will enjoy painting or cutting and pasting to create their own shamrocks. You can also look into the symbolism of the shamrock or discuss why some people think that four-leafed clovers are good luck.
It is rumored that if you follow a rainbow to its end, you will find a pot of gold guarded by a leprechaun. Have students write a story about what they would do if they were the ones that found the pot of gold, or what they would do if they were the leprechaun guarding it. Younger students can be encouraged to illustrate their works, while older students can be encouraged to use spelling words or vocabulary.
Have students develop a list of green items that people might have. Is someone wearing a green shirt or pants? Does someone have green eyes? Do their parents drive a green car? You can then graph out the frequency of green items. Or, bring out a box of Lucky Charms cereal and have the kids graph out the different marshmallows that they find.
Students of different backgrounds may celebrate St. Patrick's Day differently in their family. For instance, their mom might make green eggs and ham for breakfast; they might eat cabbage for dinner, go to the St. Patrick's Day parade, or receive a pinch if they are not wearing green. Have students compare the different traditions or see how many different ideas they can come up with for celebrating the holiday.
The shamrock was originally a sign of happiness and good luck. Have students make their own shamrocks, writing an Irish blessing on each one. Or, if you are teaching poetry, you can use the leaves to write your own limericks.
If you start early enough in March, you can plant your own shamrocks. Have students plant several shamrock seeds in a cup with dirt. You can also decorate pots with St. Patrick's Day themes to plant the shamrocks in at a later period of time. Children can take care of the growing seedlings, and even look to see if they grow any of their own four-leafed clovers once the plants mature.
Younger children will get a thrill if they find that their classroom has been turned topsy-turvy by late night leprechauns. You can have them practice their letter writing skills by writing letters to the troublemakers. This can continue through the whole week if the "leprechauns" write back, and you can get creative with the types of stunts that they pull.
Take a trip to the library or allow students to use the internet to see how leprechauns were portrayed in literature throughout the ages. What do leprechauns really look like? Are they considered good or bad luck? You can also look for St. Patrick's Day books to read and discuss as a class.
This is a good way to discuss how plants grow and absorb nutrients. Get enough white carnations so that each student has one, and put it in a vase with green food coloring added to the water. Students can write about what they think will happen or record the results. This may also be done with other colors, or by splitting stems into separate cups to see what happens.
St. Patrick's Day is a unique holiday steeped in tradition. With some creative activities, you can take students beyond wearing green to some actual learning.