One way we like to observe the liturgical year in our home is by making feast days into festive ones through hosting Saints teas, playing special games and creating liturgical tables. Sometimes we enjoy these activities on our own. At other times, we invite friends over to share in the fun. Certainly, Feast Days can provide perfect themes for full play days with friends.
Why not host your own Saint Patrick’s Day one? These ideas will get you started.
Arts and Crafts
1. St. Patrick Mosaic: Gather green tissue paper, glue and print outs of Saint Patrick. Cut or tear the tissue paper into bits and glue it onto St. Patrick’s robe. Children as young as two years old will enjoy the tearing and gluing. Older children may prefer drawing their own renditions of St. Patrick and then using a variety of colors of tissue paper to create their mosaics.
2. Nature Faces: Talk about how the people of Ireland went from sad, because they did not know God, to happy, because they did, through St, Patrick’s teachings. Then, draw a large circle on a piece of paper, with a typical green leprechaun hat and some red hair if you like. Go on a nature walk to find bits and pieces that can be used for the eyes, nose and mouth. Have fun using these to create expressions – a pinecone as a mouth, acorns for eyes, a rock a nose, pine needles for eyebrows, etc.
3. Blue to Green: Although current tradition depicts St. Patrick wearing green, he was originally portrayed in blue. Using a favorite media – shaving cream, playdough, gel – explore how to change the color blue to green.
4. Build a Boat: St. Patrick spent a good deal of time on boats, first when he was captured and taken to Ireland as a slave, then when he escaped back to England, and, finally, when he returned to Ireland as a priest. Using recyclable materials around your home, such as tinfoil, plastic caps, popsicle sticks, etc., design boats that will float across a dishpan of water. See if they will hold a small figure to enact St. Patrick’s journeys.
5. Sheep Herding: When St. Patrick was a slave in Ireland, he was a shepherd. Place a row of cotton balls at one end of a hallway, give children straws, and have them try to herd the sheep to the other end of the hallway.
6. St. Patrick’s Stick: Legend says that St. Patrick carried an ash wood walking stick about with him as he preached, and that whenever he began evangelizing, he thrust the stick into the ground. At one place, it is said that his good news message took so long to get through to the people that St. Patrick’s stick grew roots before he was ready to move on. Bring this legend to life by playing St. Patrick’s Stick, a dance-freeze-pray game. To play, simply turn on some favorite Irish music or faith-based songs while everyone dances. Then, turn the music off and have everyone freeze, rooted to the ground. Before turning the music on again, have everyone recite a simple prayer or teach a portion of St. Patrick’s Breast Plate Prayer.
7. Shamrock Hide and Go Seek: St. Patrick was said to have used the shamrock to describe the Blessed Trinity. Precut three green hearts for each child that will be at the play date and hide them in the yard. Have the children hunt to find three hearts apiece, and, then, put them together to make a shamrock, talking about God’s love for us and reciting the Sign of the Cross.
8. Throw The Snakes Out of Ireland: St. Patrick is said to have thrown the snakes out of Ireland. Draw a large circle with chalk on pavement or use a hula hoop on the grass as an island. Inside it, put a number of small plastic snakes. Take turns getting on the island and throwing or kicking the snakes off.
9. St. Patrick Four Corners: Draw symbols of St. Patrick in chalk on pavement on or large laminated cards (bishop trampling on/driving away snakes, shamrock, Celtic cross and baptismal font). Play traditional Four Corners using these instead of numbers.
10. Snake Rhythms: Legend says St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland with a drum. Have one child beat a drum while others slither away from the percussionist using the rhythm that is being played.
11. “The Unicorn Song”: Teach and sing “The Unicorn Song” by the Irish Rovers. Play games with Unicorn Song Cards.
12. I’m A Little Shamrock: Sing, “I’m a Little Shamrock”, adapted by Martianne Stanger from “I’m a Little Teapot.”
I’m a little shamrock see my leaves.
Count my petals if you please
One for the Father, One for the Son
One for the Holy Spirit, God is three in one.
13. Lorica of St. Patrick: Share the Lorica of St. Patrick. (The portion that starts “Christ with me…” is good for younger crowds with shorter attention spans.)
14. Saint Patrick by Ann Trompert
15. Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland by Tomie DePaolo
16. St. Patrick and the Three Brave Mice by Joyce A. Stengel
17. The St. Patrick’s Day Shillelagh by Janet Nolan
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