I don’t know what my deal is, but I’ve been on a BIG Ireland kick. Putting this out into the universe…. Ireland, I’m coming for you. I think it all began with our AMAZING trip to Notre Dame’s Campus and football game. We were able to enjoy the game, and Touch Down Jesus in a box suite. Everything was a dream. Fighting Irish became a new life motto, which I felt I could claim having a little Irish blood in my pedigree.
Between that and my current obsession with Ireland, St. Patrick, and their history, as well as binging through “Rebellion,” on Netflix, I just can’t seem to get my fix. Thus, I’m focussing my new obsession on the classroom and bringing some new and fun ideas for you to try!
1. St. Patrick’s Day- The History Behind the Holiday: I don’t even know where to start with this one, other than saying I enjoyed getting to know St. Patrick immensely. Religious or not, Christian or not, there’s a story here that EVERYONE will enjoy. Were talking kidnapped at 16 and brought to Ireland, sold off as a slave, worked as a slave for years, mysteriously hears a voice telling him to escape slavery and travel 200 years to the coast where a boat headed to his home in Britain will be waiting, said boat is full of pirates, he finally makes it home only to turn back determined to bring Christianity to a Pagan Country, goes back despite no one thinking him capable, does it anyway. FASCINATING. If you want to read his own account, CHECK THIS OUT.
Sorry for the run-on, could not help myself! Anyways, this reading comprehension and questions gives the brief and fascinating history of St. Patrick, as well as mentions Celtic traditions and legends like the fairy-race and leprechauns that have become part of the celebration as well! This reading and crossword based on the reading is sure to be enjoyed by all! For more information, click here.
2. FREE Luck of the Irish Reading Comprehension and Questions: This reading comprehension passage and question is available for free at Teachers pay Teachers. This reading passage takes students on a brief overview of 7 of the most iconic lucky charms and traditions associated with the Irish Culture. Students will also learn about the not so lucky history of the Irish people. If you download this product, don’t forget about the FREE Extension Crossword available here! To access you need to be logged in as a member, if your not, no worries! Sign up is free, and easy peasy lemon squeezy!
3. Make Rainbows using Prisms: A childhood memory from elementary school was when we made rainbows outside using prisms. Though I don’t remember the lesson, or objective, I do remember the wonderment, awe and beauty I felt in this activity. We went outside with prism in hand, and was encouraged to explore. You can purchase glass or acrylic prisms. If you are wanting a more hands on activity I would suggest acrylic. The only downside to acrylic is if it’s not a quality product, is scratched or dull, it won’t refract the light as well as glass will.
You may consider a glass prism for yourself. If you are on a budget, which let’s face it, is there a teacher that’s not??? When shopping for your own, make sure the ends aren’t frosted or etched. My recommendations are below. Consider the chandelier prisms. They are glass, so will need to be handled with care, however they can be a great alternative.
- Classroom Set of Acrylic Prisms
- Glass Prism Teacher Set
- Class set of Chandelier Prisms (Ping Pong Size 40mm)
- Class set of Chandelier Prisms (38mm Pack of 20)
You can also make a rainbow using a mirror, water, flashlight and paper! Read more at Physics Central.
4. St. Patrick’s Day Read-Alouds: Immerse your class in Irish-folktales, and sweet St. Patrick’s Day stories. I have many but narrowed down a few… depending on your definition of a few… If you would like a more detailed breakdown of these books, make sure to check out this post: The best picture books for St. Patrick’s Day. Enjoy a few of my very favorites that you need to add to your class library. If you’re new here, Hi. I’m a picturebookaholic. Phew, glad we got that out of the way!
- Fiona’s Luck
- O’Sullivan Stew
- Brave Margaret: An Irish Adventure
- Clever Tom and the Leprechaun
- Tim O’ Toole and the Wee Folk
- Fin M’Coul: The Giant of Knockmany Hill
- Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland
- A Fine St. Patrick’s Day
- The Irish Cinderlad
- S is for Shamrock
- Rince (Ring’-Ka): The Fairytale of Irish Dance
- Too Many Fairies: A Celtic Tale
- The O’Brien Book of Irish Fairy Tales and Legends
- Celtic Tales: Fairy Tales and Stories of Enchantment from Ireland, Scotland, Brittany, and Wales
5. Lucky Charms from Around the World: This activity and it’s extension below can technically be completed at any time during the year, however they lend so well to St. Patrick’s Day. This is a reading comprehension that allows students to explore and learn about lucky charms from all over the world. It really is such a fun read. This packet includes both a reading passage, and reading comprehension questions. If you complete this activity don’t forget to download the free crossword extension activity. The crossword is free and available exclusively to On Lemon Lane members! Click here to download the crossword puzzle. Once students have completed the reading, questions, and puzzle I highly suggest trying the activity below.
6. Lucky Charm-Gold Coin Bracelet: This time of year is perfect for this activity in the classroom. After students learn about other lucky charms from around the world, they try their hand at making their own lucky charm using a GOLDEN Chinese Coin. The Golden Chinese coin is significant because in the activity above students read about the significance and luck associated with these coins! I have my students tie their bracelets using green string to act as a little pinch protection come St. Patrick’s Day. Best part about this bracelet is you can outfit almost an entire grade-level for around 15$. For a complete activity breakdown and product recommendations see this post!
7. Make Irish Soda Bread IN THE CLASSROOM: You may be catching on to the trend that I highly encourage baking, cooking and all food science in the classroom. I will never however suggest an activity that can’t be completed with success in the classroom setting. This activity is no different. I love this activity. One, it’s simple. Two, the measurements can be multiplied or divided with a cinch. Three, it has historical context. Four, you “bake,” this bread on a griddle… similar to how it was originally prepared. How. Convenient. Math. History. Informational text (Recipe). Sign me up. Irish soda bread grew popular in the 1800’s in Ireland because of the dire conditions after the Potato Famine. The bread could be prepared with as little as 4 ingredients and was yummy enough it’s still made today. (Buttermilk, flour, baking soda, salt) The dough is rolled into circle then cut into farls, or 4 quadrants. Make sure to use the correct terminology when preparing it. Farl originated from the Galeic word Fardel, meaning 4 parts. The breads were typically cooked over a fire and not in a stove. Thus, baking on a griddle would yield a very similar result! If you aim to try this in the classroom, check out this tried and true recipe for Irish Soda Bread! Serve it with jam, or do one better, IRISH BUTTER.
8. Celtic Knot Tutorial: Celtic knots are intricate and beautiful. The origination of the design can be traced back as far as the 6th, even 7th century BC. This tutorial by A. Reed Mihaloew is absolutely fantastic. Students can start with a simple design using the blank template provided, or by using graph paper. No prior experience is necessary for your students to see success. This tutorial also includes a brief history and scaffolds to more difficult and complex designs. If you are looking for an activity that celebrates Irish traditions for the Upper Grades… this is it. Click here to download the PDF. Another option for a Celtic Knot tutorial is to go the video route. I’ll post my favorite below! If you’re looking for a more hands- on option… You could always try TYING a celtic knot as a class!
9. Irish Dance: I danced all growing up and through college, in my experience I had many opportunities to perform a wide range of styles… but never Irish. This is a major regret. Wether you dance or not Irish Dance can be enjoyed and respected by all. This strong, yet light style is a hopping contradiction of itself. The upper body is held stiff and still, while the bottom half fires away at a rapid pace. Thanks to technology not only can you enjoy an Irish Jig on St. Patrick’s Day… you can even try your hand…er, feet, at one. I scoured the internet to provide only the best recommendations. Many videos out there are trying to call a country line dance, Irish and maybe it’s the dancer in me, but I can’t let your students confuse the two techniques.
I would certainly begin by watching some masters at their craft. Then try a couple steps in the classroom. Anytime I did dance or movement in the classroom, I dim the lights. The older students get the more conscious they become. The lights seemed to help them loosen up. If you would like to learn more about the history or origin of the dance, I thoroughly enjoyed reading through this! Also if you are looking for a fun picture book to introduce the fairytale of the Irish Dance, consider the book Rince.
- Fun Video of Girls Crushing it to Ed Sheeran
- Field Trip to Irish Dance Studio *Younger Grades
- Irish Dance Studio: Light Jig Tutorial *Upper Grades
- Break Down of Irish Steps Video Tutorial Series *Older Students
- There are 9 (1-2 minute) videos in this series. This link brings you to the first. Once your students have the steps add some Irish Music to the jig!
10. Learn to Speak a Little Irish Gaelic: Irish Gaelic or Gaeilge is the countries official language. However, the majority of the island speaks English. Because less, and less people speak this language it is on the endangered language list. Do your part in the classroom and help this language stay alive by being relevant and recited! There are many wonderful videos of beautiful folk-songs, rhymes, and basic lessons. A few of my favorites are the 1 minute lesson series that I will post below!
- How to count from 1-10
- How to say please and thank you
- How to say, “I’m learning Irish”
- How to say, “What is your name?”
- How to say, “How are you?”
There you go! 10 of my very favorite activities for you to try in your classroom! If you’re scratching your head and wondering, “But what about the leprechaun trap?” You’re not mistaken. Call me a grump, or a little snooty but I struggle with those as well as the book, “How to Catch a Leprechaun.” Don’t get me wrong the activity has such merit and the book is adorable, but if there were ever an example of over-commercializing a holiday… this would be it. According to legend, leprechauns were about the same size as a 3 year old… not a blade of grass. And the mischief, don’t get me started on the mischief. Let’s just say green water and glitter in your hair is the last thing you would need to be worried about if you heard the slight tap, tap, tapping of his cobbler hammer 😀 Also did you know that originally they were described as wearing red… not green! Who knew??!
What do you do in your classroom? Are you excited to try any of the activities above for the first time? I want to hear from you!
Can’t wait, THANKS!