St. Patrick’s Day has been celebrated in the United States for many years, and is observed around the globe by the Irish and the Irish at heart. Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and one of the most celebrated religious figures around the world. On March 17th, many people march in parades, attend speeches, and enjoy live Irish music and dance performances.
An art teacher can celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by integrating art and history concepts into fun techniques and activities. Providing background about St. Patrick's Day customs can help children understand the holiday and participate more enthusiastically. For example, shamrock activities can offer an opportunity to discuss why people wear shamrocks on St. Patrick’s Day. Invite children to share their ideas. Then share factual information about this custom. (Shamrocks are associated with Ireland not only because of the abundance of clover in the country, but also because St. Patrick used the three-leaf plant to explain the Christian concept of the Holy Trinity to new believers.)
But St. Patrick’s Day provides more than just an opportunity to explore the connection between holidays and history. It also offers art teachers a special day to focus on unique shapes (shamrocks), fantasy characters (leprechauns), tints and shades of one color (green), and a chance to take a look at the significance of color and pattern (tartans).
The lesson plans below provide a variety of art-based explorations to add to your students’ experience of St. Patrick’s Day this year:
You can introduce the concept of positive and negative space with students in second grade and up with this simple cut paper shamrock activity. Students can choose to make collages or mobiles from their cut shapes. This lesson lends itself to connections with the cut-paper collages of Henri Matisse. A link is provided to a biography of Matisse that can be shared with students.
This lesson is a fun and creative way to research the Irish legend of the leprechaun and create original, stand-up leprechaun artwork for students in fourth through sixth grades. Have research materials and images of leprechauns, samples of shillelaghs, and books of Irish folk tales on hand in the art or regular classroom for students to explore. Be sure to slit both the second pair of feet and the feet designed on the leprechaun to make each leprechaun sturdy on his feet.
This easy activity could be made more creative by inviting children to draw their own shamrocks instead of using a pattern, but kindergarten through second grade students will enjoy mixing paint to create different tints of green. The bubble wrap dabbers are a creative tool that will make for interesting textures on the shamrocks. As an alternative to sprinkling glitter on shamrocks, teachers may want to sprinkle glitter into the paint prior to students painting on shamrocks.
This lesson for all grades would be a great follow-up activity after a study of Scottish and Irish clans and their historic tartans and corresponding coat of arms. Provide children with background and examples of tartans and coats of arms to explore. If students have Scotch or Irish roots, invite them to use books and classroom computers to research the tartans and/or coats of arms that correspond to their family names prior to creating artwork
I like this lesson for special needs students, particularly because of the use of the unique shamrock shape. Again to make it even more creative, students could be invited to create their own shamrock shapes. You could also provide a variety of green-toned papers (green photos from magazines, newspapers, construction paper, green patterned paper, wrapping paper, etc.) for students to choose to trace and cut shamrock shapes.
What kinds of St. Patrick's Day art projects do you have your students do?