I recently came across a recipe for chocolate cupcakes made with Guinness Irish Stout, Jameson Irish Whiskey, and Bailey's Irish Cream. I am, of course, now planning to make these for St. Patrick's Day because they sound too amazing to resist. Who needs green beer when you can have chocolate laced with three different kinds of Irish liquor?
But while the cupcakes will certainly be celebration enough for me, they aren't exactly a kid-friendly way to celebrate the holiday. So, in addition to making these decadent cupcakes, I'll also be building a leprechaun trap. Yes, my children and I have decided to catch ourselves some leprechauns (or at least try to trick one into leaving us some candy or a few of his gold coins.)
The Myth of the Leprechaun
According to ancient Irish legend, leprechauns are tiny mischievous creatures who love to play tricks and hate to be caught. Each leprechaun is also thought to have his own pot of gold hidden at the end of the rainbow, and legend has it that if you catch one, he will lead you to this pot of gold in exchange for his freedom. Keep in mind, though, that the sly little guy will most certainly try to outsmart you and get away.
Technically, leprechauns hide in the Irish countryside. But, for the purpose of St. Patrick's Day fun, why not pretend that you can catch them anywhere? Building a leprechaun trap (and being on the lookout for where the sneaky creatures are hiding in your house) is a great family activity that can be tremendously entertaining for children. It's also a great opportunity to teach them about Irish folklore, and maybe even a little science.
How to Trap a Leprechaun
All you need to trap a leprechaun (or at least to pretend you're trying to catch a leprechaun, since chances are pretty good you won't actually get your hands on a real one) is a simple, homemade leprechaun trap.
I, unfortunately, am not a crafty mom, so I need some ideas to help me get started. Fortunately for those of us who are lacking in the creativity department, we live in the age of the internet. So if building a leprechaun trap sounds like a fun activity that your kids would enjoy, but you desperately need some inspiration, I've got you covered.
Check out these great links to leprechaun traps that will inspire all of us.
The leprechaun trap at Amazing Moms is a fairly simple one, made from a decorated box with a rainbow on top. A piece of string and some form of bait (a gold coin, Lucky Charms cereal, etc.) stick out from a tube at the bottom — the idea being that the greedy leprechaun will try to grab the bait and then be stuck when the lid to the box snaps shut. Obviously, you can make this as simple or as complicated as you like, depending on the age of your children and your own level of motivation.
The page also includes lots of suggestions for different types of materials that you can use and ways to trick your children into believing that leprechauns were actually in your house.
Steve Spangler is a popular scientist who has made numerous television appearances and loves teaching kids about science. On his Steve Spangler blog, you'll find a picture and description of a leprechaun trap that he made with his own kids, complete with water that turns green overnight, proving that a real leprechaun must have fallen in before making an escape!
You can also find lots more St. Patrick's Day science experiments, including a Leprechaun Science Kit available for purchase, on Spangler's website.
Disney's Family Fun website offers 3 examples of leprechaun traps that you can make. Choose from a Leprechaun Hat Pit Trap, a Rainbow Cage Drop, or a Tricky Trap Door. Pictures and step-by-step instructions are included with each trap.
The pictures look a bit like they came straight out of a Martha Stewart spread (meaning that they're slightly more perfect than anything I'll accomplish with a 6-year-old and a 2-year-old), but they're fun ideas. A giant leprechaun's hat with a ladder and a piece of gold sitting on top made from an empty container of oatmeal is something we could manage, even if ours turns out looking nothing like the picture.
94 Leprechaun Trap Photos
If you're looking for step-by-step instruction, this isn't the link for you. But if you're just looking for ideas and inspiration, these photos on the Family Crafts page at About.com will certainly deliver. You'll find 94 pictures of real-life leprechaun traps made by real-life kids and parents that are all unique, and all quite creative.
Readers have uploaded these photos themselves, so they're all examples of projects that you can actually do at home (not like the fancy projects that look easy in tutorials but turn disastrous when you try to recreate them yourself). This is by far my favorite link, because you can click on every single photo to see an enlarged picture of each individual trap, along with a description.
The links listed above are all great resources to help you get started building your own leprechaun trap! And for even more St. Patrick's Day fun, check out the following: