Thursday, March 16, 2017

March 17 - St. Patrick's Day

A traditional holiday, whatever can I be thinking? But it's such a fun one!



WELCOME TO THE rival towns of Tralee and Tralah, where the annual St. Patrick’s Day decorating contest is under way. Every year, Tralah defeats Tralee. This year, though, little Fiona Riley has a wonderful idea that will help Tralee win the contest for sure. But neither town has counted on a stranger arriving—a funny little man with pointed ears and boots trimmed with bells—who will turn the contest upside down!

Any time a child is the hero of the town, the story will resonate with kids. In addition to having the winning decorating idea, Fiona reminds everyone that helping takes precedence over winning. Her final idea - of just doing something for the fun of it - is also a winner!

Another clever Fiona:


Once upon a time in Ireland, the luck of the leprechauns roamed free across the land. There was plenty of it, too. But when the big people began to soak it up, the leprechaun king took his luck and left Ireland with nothing but want.
However, one very clever girl named Fiona sought to outsmart even the powerful magic of the leprechaun king. Through a series of tests that challenged her wits, Fiona proved she had no luck at all. For her troubles, she was given a wish for the exact value of her luck—nothing. Though it wasn’t much, nothing was all she needed to restore luck to the land and put the sparkle back in the Emerald Isle.
"Sometimes cleverness, though, is worth more than strength." And sometimes nothing is just what you need!

Fiona chooses wits over luck, which ties in nicely with


To be sure, Biddy Malone is a singer and a dancer—though her dundering feet fall all over each other and her voice sounds like a rusty gate. Even her brothers' teasing can't stop her dancing.
And then one day, Biddy stumbles upon a faerie village, and meets a loveling so beautiful he takes her breath away. And when he asks to hear her three deepest wishes, she tells him every one. But all too soon, she learns that something gained for nothing has no value, and that wishes can only come true if you make them so yourself.

A different name this time, but she sure looks like the second Fiona, doesn't she?

Ask your kids what their three wishes would be, and then talk about how they could make those wishes come true some day. Make posters together detailing short term and long term goals that can help them work towards their wishes.

Social Studies

* Let's find out more about Ireland! Find it on a map of the world. Wait, why are there two Irelands? Explain the difference between the Republic of Ireland (independent country) and Northern Ireland (part of the United Kingdom). 

The Republic of Ireland is an island nation. How do you suppose this might affect its commerce, history, culture?

Why is Ireland called The Emerald Isle? What makes it so green?

Are there really no snakes in Ireland?

* March is also Irish American Heritage Month. Learn about the history of early Irish immigration. Some subtopics to look up: the Irish Potato Famine, mill towns, coffin ships, Irish in the Civil War.

Language Arts

Read about the legend of the Blarney Stone. Imagine you found a rock that would give people a special ability when they kissed it. What would that ability be? Write and illustrate a story about it (maybe go out and find a special-looking rock as inspiration!)


Some famous Irish Americans: 

Andrew Jackson, Grace Kelly, Conan O'Brien, John F. Kennedy, Joe Biden, George Clooney, Georgia O'Keeffe, Henry Ford, Walt Disney, Alfred Hitchcock, Nellie Bly, Theodore Roosevelt, Muhammad Ali, Tom Brady, Billy the Kid, and Molly Brown (of Titanic fame). Choose one of these or any others you find to research. Dress up as that person and give a speech to friends or family, telling them about your life.


Everyone knows a four-leaf clover is good luck! If you have two of them, how many leaves does that make? If you have three?

Print out pictures of shamrocks, and practice skip-counting by fours. If you want to start with other numbers, you could use leprechaun feet to count by twos, trios of gold coins to count by threes, etc.


Corned beef and cabbage, are, of course, the traditional meal. Shepherd's Pie is another choice for those who can't stand the smell of the former. Whichever you choose, some Irish Soda Bread makes a great accompaniment.

Whisk together:
4 cups flour
2 T sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda

Cut in 4 T butter

Add 1 cup currants or raisins and knead in with your hands.

Make a well in the center, and add 1 beaten egg and 1 3/4 cups buttermilk. Stir until mixed, then knead again. Add more flour if it is still sticky. Do not over-knead.

Turn onto floured surface in a ball. With a knife, make an "x" across the top, about an inch deep. Transfer to a greased skillet or baking sheet.

Bake at 425 about 45 minutes (until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean).


Here's a fun and easy way to brighten some other kids' days - anonymously! Buy a can of gold spray paint, and collect handfuls of random rocks (driveway gravel size is good). Paint them gold, and when they are dry, scatter them around a park or playground for other kids to find. 


(To the tune of "I'm a Little Teapot")

I'm a little leprechaun, short and green.
I have a treasure that can't be seen. 
If you try to catch me, hear me shout!
I'll hide away and I won't come out.

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