It’s me, Deanna, the teacher with 20+ years experience who, like you, is practicing social distancing at home with my child. I have decided to use my training and experience to develop a daily list of activities for you to do at home with your kids.
Today is St. Patrick’s Day. What started as a feast day for a saint has morphed into a celebration of all things Irish, especially in the Irish Diaspora. Today’s activities are focused on exploring the symbols of St. Patrick’s Day and Irish Culture.
History of St. Patrick’s Day
Read over these sites with your children. Discuss the information in these sites.
- National Geographic Kids – St. Patrick’s Day – includes a quiz
Shamrocks are a symbol of the Irish and of St. Patrick’s Day. Some fun activities you can do around shamrocks.
Make a shamrock and hang in your window – There is a meme travelling around that suggests this very same thing. All you have to do is put a Shamrock in your window on March 17th. That’s it! You can print one off the Internet or follow the instructions in this video. The idea is families on their daily walk can do a shamrock hunt. Join in.
There are other art ideas. There is one on this page that uses the toilet paper or paper towel rolls you can fish out of the recycling. Another uses the cork from a wine bottle. Another option is to print off this shamrock I found on the Noun Project (which BTW is a great site). Then have your child trace around the shamrock using a variety of lines and colours, until you get something like this example.
If you are lucky enough to live in a part of the world where spring is in full swing, look for shamrocks on your daily walk. See if you can find a four leaf clover. Before you go, read over these facts about four leaf clovers with them to get them excited about the hunt. Or you can memorize them and drop them randomly on the hunt.
Irish music has become a mainstay of the music scene and there are many songs that are favourites of St. Patrick’s Day. You will have to do some careful curation to find those that are appropriate to share with children, but dig out your old CDs, fire up your favourite streaming service or turn to the trust old YouTube to share these with your kids. As a bonus, find the lyrics and have a sing along.
Here are a few:
And while this is not quite a “traditional” Irish song, it is sung by the great Irish Rovers and is very accessible to children. It is a favourite from my childhood and I can still sing it off the top of my head.
The Irish have a rich tradition of dance. And luckily for us there’re YouTube, which has tons of videos to show us how to do it. You won’t become an expert, but you will have fun trying out the steps and your children may have an appreciation for how hard the art actually is. It would also go well with some of the Irish music from your sign along.
- Irish dance tutorial for Riverdance — The Gathering – the world record they are referencing happened in 2013 and they were successful.
You can also watch clips from the Riverdance shows. Or see what your favourite streaming service has to offer.
For older kids, an exploration of the rich history of Ireland might be interesting. Possible topics:
Irish Monasteries – Historian Thomas Cahill wrote a popular history of this period called “How the Irish Saved Civilization”. You can find ebook and audiobook copies through your local library. An older child could read this and then see what other historians say about Cahill’s thesis. This can lead to good discussion around interpretation of history.
The Potato Famine – This is a good short video on it. This event lead to what was called the Great Migration where the Irish left Ireland and moved around the world in hopes of a better life. Your kids can research where they moved to and how their culture continues to influence those places.
The Troubles – The Troubles refers to a time of sporadic communal violence in Northern Ireland from the late 1960s until the mid-1990s. Various parties were involved including civilian paramilitary organisations, politicians, the British Army and the police. This article is a good overview. It is also well documented in Irish Culture, with songs like Bloody Sunday, Invisible Sun and Zombie and movies like Some Mother’s Son and In the Name of the Father. Again, you are going to need to use parental discretion here as a lot of the movies are intended for an adult audience, but you know your kids best. If I were to do this activity with my own son, I would give him an overview of the conflict and then jump into a discussion about the use of violence in political history. Our own family history touches on this as my paternal grandparents were members of the Dutch Resistance and my son has grown up with stories about the actions they took as part of their struggle against the Nazis. You could also go with the effects of colonization as the British had conquered the Irish at various points in their history and British citizens had moved to Ireland. This would tie in nicely to much of world history. This would also be a great use of those rhetoric skills your kids worked on during the Ides of March.