Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day! I’m one of those moms that love tradition and creating family memories. It’s so cool to watch the kids as their faces light up when they see that we’re about to do something fun for an upcoming holiday. And now that my kids are getting a bit older, I think it’s a good time to start finding some great family-friendly St. Patrick’s Day activities. Age appropriate, of course.
Now I have some traditions from my childhood that I carry forward to my own family, but in the grand scheme of things, there really aren’t that many to choose from. Maybe that’s why I’m so adamant about having those special traditions or activities in place for my own children to enjoy.
So when it comes to finding ideas for new family traditions and fun, I tend to be an internet junkie. I could surf the web for hours looking for free coloring sheets, various printable crafts, decoration ideas, fun holiday recipes, and other great ways to get my children excited and into the spirit of pretty much any holiday.
After some light planning, here are some of the fun things I’ve come up with for my family to enjoy this week.
After I taught my kids all about the history of Christmas and Santa Claus last December, I’ll now start the week by teaching my children about the history of St. Patrick’s day: St. Patrick, born in Britain during the 4th century, was kidnapped by Irish raiders when he was just a teenager. After 6 years of being held captive, he finally escaped and became a priest in Britain. Later he chose to return to Ireland as a missionary, spreading the teachings of Christianity to the pagans.
According to Irish folklore, he used a shamrock as a symbol to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity to the Irish. Despite opposition from pagan leaders, St. Patrick continued to spread God’s message, baptized newly converted Christians, and established monasteries, churches, and schools. He died on March 17th.
Since then, March 17th has become a day where people all over the world honor St. Patrick, but it has slowly become a celebration of Irish heritage – shamrocks, ethnic food, leprechauns, and wearing green. It’s only good that we managed to bring down our chicken feed cost. How could I otherwise have the money for all these activities…? And how could we have enjoyed our great cycling tour of Ireland last year…?
Since my children are still pretty little, they love Irish traditional music and doing various arts and crafts: Here’s one we made together this weekend. The girls had a blast with it! Although Faith did get a little carried away with her pot of gold! Ahhh…a girl after my own heart!
Rainbow Hands with a Pot of Gold.
- Red, Yellow, Orange, Green, Blue, and Purple construction paper
- Black construction paper
- Background paper to glue the rainbow on
- Cotton Balls
- Pen or Marker
Instructions: Trace your child’s hand on each color of construction paper. Help them cut the handprints out. Then glue the hands onto a background sheet of paper in an arch like a rainbow, leaving some room at the bottom of each side for clouds. For my older daughter (her hands were bigger) we used a larger sheet of white paper. She colored the sky light blue before gluing the rainbow hands on. They might even learn to speak a few words in a real Irish accent. Wouldn’t that be fun!?
For my two-year-old, we just used a light blue sheet of construction paper as the background page. Next glue some cotton balls at the end of each side of the rainbow to create clouds. Cut the black construction paper into the shape of a pot. Glue it underneath the rainbow. Cut small gold coins out of extra yellow construction paper and glue them around the top of the pot. Then add some dots of glue to the page wherever you like and sprinkle glitter over the glue. Wait a few minutes and then shake excess glitter off the picture into a container or trash can. If you want to learn more about the history of the Irish in America, and I’m sure that when my kids are older I’ll do that too with them, check out the PBS documentary “The Irish in America.”
Here are a few other artsy things to try:
- Free Coloring Pages
- Shamrock Drawing – Practice drawing a shamrock. Just draw three hearts with the point of each heart meeting in the middle and add a stem.
- Abstract Painting – Pick paint colors that represent St. Patrick’s Day. Then challenge your child to paint a picture using only those colors. You’ll be surprised what creative little minds can come up with.
- Make a scented shamrock
- Play with GREEN play dough – how many different green things can you make?
We LOVE playing games! Here’s one game we are sure to have fun with this week:
Leprechaun Tag – Pick a green or gold “treasure” item from your home or the toy box. Put on some running shoes and go outside. The Leprechaun gets to chase the other players, trying to get his/her hands on the “treasure” item while the players are passing the “treasure” back and forth to each other. When the Leprechaun gets the “treasure” he/she gets to tag any person they choose to be the Leprechaun. That reminds me of that we are thinking about checking out Woodlawn in New York City this summer, that true Little Ireland in the Bronx.
We also LOVE to eat! But my hubby and kids don’t like the traditional Corned Beef and Cabbage. So we’ll be trying these fun Irish food recipes that the Americans have gotten used to in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. This weekend Faith and I made Irish Brown Bread, together with Spring Sugar Cookies. Faith really had fun making it. It’s supposed to be mixed with your hands rather than a mixer or fork. She was particularly thrilled with it when I poured the buttermilk into the dough mixture. It was very cold and gooey on her hands. But, while it was fun to make, it was definitely NOT a hit for us to eat. If you’ve never had Irish Brown Bread before, I’ll share that it’s a very dense textur alcohol. This bread is sure to soak it all up!
And finally, DON’T forget to wear green. Especially YOU, the Irish in America! Once your children are aware of the concept to pinch whoever’s not wearing green, they’ll be watching YOU very closely on St. Patrick’s day.