A Touch of Green: St. Patrick's Day in the Classroom

Try these ideas to add some Irish flair to your classroom this St. Patrick's Day.

By David Moadel

Green leprechaun hat

St. Patrick's Day happens to fall on a Sunday this year. However, this doesn't mean that teachers can't still celebrate this fun holiday. After all, there's always the Friday before. In any case, be sure to check with your school's policies regarding holiday celebrations before partaking in these St. Patrick's Day-themed lessons. If you're given the green light, then feel free to add these St. Patty's Day lesson ideas to your instructional bag of tricks.

Learning the History

It would make sense to start with the history of St. Patrick's Day. Who was this Saint Patrick, and why does he have a special day dedicated to him? To put it simply, St. Patrick, who lived during the fifth century, is known as the patron saint of Ireland.  There are numerous legends about his deeds and adventures, such as the time he was kidnapped and brought to Ireland as a youth but then escaped from his captors. Or, the time he (according to folklore) drove the snakes out of Ireland. The people of Ireland have been celebrating St. Patrick's Day since the ninth century, and the first American St. Patrick's Day parade took place in 1762.

Knowing the history and folklore associated with the holiday can help teachers plan lessons for classroom use. For example, teachers can have pupils read from books, such as Tales of St. Patrick by Eileen Dunlop, Saint Patrick and the Peddler by Margaret Hodges, or Story Of Saint Patrick by James A. Janda. Then, students could write and illustrate their own mini-books with original folktales.

Green Food Equals Fun

Kids love wearing and making green things on St. Patrick's Day. Why not get into the spirit of the holiday and have your class make green food treats? (Note: Check with your school's policies before preparing and consuming food in the classroom. Also check to see if any students have particular food allergies.) Making something delicious and green doesn't have to be complicated. It can be as simple as a "shamrock shake": blend two parts milk, two and a half parts lime sherbet, and one part banana. As you can see, there is a math lesson here involving ratios, since it will require some conversion to make enough shakes for the entire class to consume.

All about Ireland

Naturally, a St. Patrick's Day lesson will focus on Ireland, so there are opportunities for geography and social studies lessons.  Pupils can use maps or online resources to learn about the location and topographical features of Ireland. They can learn that it is an island located in Europe, and that it is known as the "Emerald Isle" because Ireland is so green with vegetation. Students can report, either through written reports or oral presentations, on the population, tourist destinations, and other features of the great nation of Ireland.

There are numerous possibilities for teachers to infuse fun and learning into their instruction on St. Patrick's Day. We have already mentioned connections with reading, writing, math, geography, social studies, and art. Now it's your turn to come up with your own ideas!

More Lessons for St. Patrick's Day:

St. Patrick's Day Art Projects

What better time of the year to delve into art projects than St. Patty's Day?  Try these art lesson ideas in your classroom this March.  Art projects include Shamrock Man, Leprechaun Legends, and Clans and Tartans.

Bring St. Patrick to the Classroom

While it might not be possible to actually bring St. Patrick into the classroom, teachers can do the next best thing by engaging learners in these hands-on lessons.  History, sociology, and language arts connections are made in these plans.

Saint Patrick's Day: English Exercises

Learning and everybody's favorite Irish holiday go hand in hand with these English exercises.  The five activities have pupils watch a video, read a story, and complete a series of questions and a crossword puzzle.