Our St. Patrick’s Day Activity Parade includes a deeper meaning why some celebrate the Irish holiday. Here’s just a wee bit o’ history about the patron Saint of Ireland, St. Patrick.
St. Patrick was born in Britain, captured by the Irish for six years. He said God spoke to him in a dream to leave Ireland. He escaped, and went back to Britain where he received training as a Christian priest. As a priest, he began his mission to convert the pagan Irish, to Christianity. He knew the Irish language and culture from his years of captivity, so he chose to combine Irish ritual and symbols into his teachings rather than put an end to Irish beliefs altogether. That is how we have the Celtic cross. St. Patrick layered the sun, an Irish symbol, onto the traditional Christian cross. Irish families have traditional celebrated the feast of St. Patrick, which is a pause in the Christian season of Lent when prohibitions were lifted for one day of dancing, drinking and feasting on meat.
The Irish parades began as a tradition when the Irish soldiers were serving in the British army. The parades helped the Irish from feeling so homesick. Through the familiar sights and sounds of the Irish culture, the Irish gained strength and hope. Over the years since the Great Potato Famine, many of the Irish have immigrated to the United States and continued the parades to celebrate their memories and strength.
I am not Irish, but as so many do, I celebrate the holiday in a fun, festive way with my children, and now with my step-children. I have a parade of activities for the holiday here today. Every year I make a green meal with all the fixings and green hoopla! There are so many fun activities that we can do with children. I have compiled a great St. Patrick’s Day Activity Parade here. Follow along! You’ll find laughter and fun!
Rainbow Cup O’ Luck
1. I used a plastic cup from the Dollar Store.
2. Approx. 8-10 Rollos (gold ones only) at the bottom.
3. Layer Skittles, purple, green, yellow, orange, and red.
4. Top with mini marshmallows.
5. Place in a sandwich baggie and tie with ribbon.
St. Patrick’s Day Activity Parade Item #1: Shamrock Shake
Goals: Gross motor movement, spatial awareness, DBT-Mindfulness, ACCEPTS (Activities), PLEASE (Exercise and Build Mastery)
Materials: Zippy Celtic Music
1. Cut out shamrock shapes out of foam paper. Draw a different shape, letter or number on each shamrock.
2. Place them around the room on the floor.
3. Have the children stand in a circle around the shamrocks.
4. Begin music, and encourage kids to shake different body parts.
5. Periodically stop the music, and direct the children to find a shamrock to stand on.
6. Have each child identify the symbol on his/her shamrock.
Download Shamrock Cutout
St. Patrick’s Day Activity Parade Item #2: Learn to Dance a Jig
Goals: Gross motor movements, spatial awareness, DBT-Mindfulness, ACCEPTS (Activities), PLEASE (Exercise and Build Mastery)
Method: One to one or group
Materials: Fun Irish music
Song Suggestions: “McNamara’s Band” and “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling”
1. Demonstrate the dance with music to encourage motivation and mastery.
2. Teach each step separately without music.
3. Walk through all the dance steps without the music.
4. Add the music!
Discussion Ideas: If you have another way of teaching dance steps, please share!
Variations: Draw the dance steps on a white/chalk board to follow.
Here is a video of a group performing a jig.
St. Patrick’s Day Activity Parade Item #3: Hot Leprechaun
Goals: Gross motor movements, teamwork, DBT-Mindfulness, Distress Tolerance, Emotion Regulation
Method: One to one or group
Stuffed leprechaun (like the Elf on the shelf)
Jolly Celtic jig music
It’s like the game, “Hot Potato.” Play the music, when it stops, the child holding the leprechaun is out. The last one with the Leprechaun wins.
Emotions can be part of every game and part of situations in life. These moments present an opportunity: Observe how your clients attempt to cope with frustration, and you can talk with them about it. When we help them cope with the anxiety, frustration, and disappointment that are part of every game – and everything we do.
Teacher/Therapist: Play enthusiastically. In these playful, competitive interactions, in innumerable small experiences of victory, followed by defeat, followed by victory, losing becomes tolerable. Let young children win, but not every time. They will learn from competition the importance of teamwork and cooperation, of commitment to others and respect for our opponents, and, especially, learning to play by the rules.
Could substitute the Leprechaun with a gold bean bag
Do the Leprechaun March with LOTS OF HEART!