St Patrick is often not celebrated except in Irish communities but it is worth spending a little time telling children his story and doing some activities to contribute towards awareness of the British Isles.
St Patrick’s Day Links:
theteachersguide.com – excellent lesson plans, interactive whiteboard resources and clipart.
Abcteach offers lots of print out materials that may inspire or give ideas of activities.
Teach-nology This website contains some excellent lesson plans including:
A Day in the Life of a Leprechaun – Did you ever wonder what Leprechauns did all day?
A Leprechaun Trap – Students will enjoy working together to design a Leprechaun trap.
Letter to a Leprechaun – There’s a Leprechaun in your room who has gold to share, but the students must convince him why he should share it with them.
Measuring Pots of Gold – Science and leprechauns, makes for great fun.
What Would You Do With a Pot of Gold – Students learn about philanthropic giving in this activity.
Green Food Graph – In this activity, students interview each other to find out which green foods are the most popular.”
Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and his special day is 17th March. The shamrock plant is traditionally very important to the day; it represents the holy trinity in its three leaves and reminds Irish people about the teaching of St Patrick. Patrick used the shamrock to teach about the three parts of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Druids considered the shamrock sacred so it was a good plant to use to teach them with. People usually wear shamrock on St Patrick’s Day, it is known as “wearing the green.”
St Patrick was born in Britain and his father was a deacon. Patrick was an unbeliever. At the age of 16 he was captured and taken as a slave to Ireland where he had to work shepherding his master’s flocks near Antrim. He decided that he was being punished for his lack of faith and spent a lot of time whilst he was there as a slave praying. Finally he escaped and an angel told him to head for the coast where boarded a boat to get back to his parents’ house. Once he was a home again he studied and became a priest.
Patrick returned to Ireland later as a Bishop, he converted many of the druids and baptised many people who had not heard of Jesus Christ before. Patrick was able to perform miracles and built churches across Ireland. He probably died in 461 AD; his special day has been celebrated since the 9th or 10th century.
There are lots of parades and sporting events, especially horse riding on St Patrick’s Day. The religious significance is often lost to the celebrations (a little like Christmas) and there is currently a move to make it more religious. As there are many Irish people in the United States there is also a huge celebration there, and in other parts of the world too.
There is a lovely story about St Patrick driving all of the snakes out of Ireland. This is likely to be an allegory, the snake or serpent being a symbol of evil and St Patrick was preaching Christianity and teaching people how to be good. It is the good triumphing over bad symbol that we frequently see. It is true that there are no snakes in Ireland, but that is almost certainly because it is an island, has never been attached to the mainland and so never had snakes.
In Ireland people often have a big parade for St Patrick’s Day. The parade in Dublin is sometimes called the Irish Mardi Gras and it is one of the biggest in the world. It is on March 17th so usually falls in lent, historically meat was not eaten but bacon and cabbage, Irish traditional food, was. On St. Patrick’s Day, people usually wear a small bunch of shamrocks pinned to their clothes. Children wear badges made from orange, white and green and girls wear green ribbons in their hair.