St. Patrick's Day is about more than just green beer and imaginary leprechauns. Like most holidays, it also offers a wealth of educational opportunities for parents and educators. Try one or more of these easy ways to incorporate learning (and a few shamrocks) into your St. Patrick's Day fun.
1. Learn about St. Patrick's Day history.
Older children will enjoy the St. Patrick's Day videos at History.com, while younger kids might prefer the St. Patrick's Day Quick Facts at Kaboose.com. Either way, you'll probably discover a few surprises — did you know, for example that St. Patrick wasn't actually Irish?
2. Explore Irish culture.
St. Patrick may not have been born in Ireland but he is still the country's patron saint, and the holiday is clearly a celebration of all things pertaining to the Emerald Isle. You can explore Irish culture by:
- Reading books about Ireland.
- Cooking traditional Irish foods like Irish soda bread or corned beef and cabbage.
- Watching a movie like Far and Away, which follows the story of an Irish immigrant (who just happens to be Tom Cruise) as he builds a new life in America in the 1890s.
- Learning about Irish customs, music, and dancing.
3. Do the math.
Yes, you can use St. Patrick's Day to teach math concepts. Introduce elementary-aged students to the ideas of fraction and symmetry by making a Positive-Negative Space Shamrock, or discuss the difference between "luck" and "probability" with a dice-rolling game of Lucky Leprechauns!
4. Write it down.
Children love to imagine what they would do if they caught a leprechaun or found gold at the end of the rainbow, and you can easily to turn this into an educational exercise in writing. Print out a few sheets of Pot of Gold Paper, hand your kids a pencil, and let their words flow.
The catch? You'll need to remind them to use proper punctuation, correct grammar and spelling, and neat handwriting. If you have pre-readers, have them practice identifying letters with a Shamrock Dot-to-Dot.
5. Be scientific.
Celebrate St. Patrick with Steve Spangler and a bit of science! Do you know how to make the water coming out of your faucets turn green? Or how to build a leprechaun trap? On Spangler's website you'll find popular St. Patrick's Day Science Experiments that children and adults alike will love.
How do you celebrate St. Patrick's Day in your family?