Wednesday, March 16, 2011

St. Patrick of Ireland, My Dear!

You've heard of St. Denis of France, he never had much for to brag on.
You've heard of St. George and his lance
Who killed d'old heathenish dragon.
The Saints of the Welshmen and Scot
Are a couple of pitiful pipers
And might just as well go to pot
When compared to the patron of vipers:
St. Patrick of Ireland, my dear.
~Patrick's Arrival

St. Patrick's Day has always been a big deal in our family. My parents hosted parties every year, where we sang Irish songs around the piano, drank green beer, and ate soda bread. My sister has taken on this tradition, and we'll be heading down to her place to celebrate the "patron of vipers" this weekend. Having spent a year in Belfast and travelled extensively throughout the Emerald Isle, I have a particular fondness for this day. I've been a collector and performer of traditional Irish music since my teens, and few things bring me as much joy as lifting my voice in song. Irish music can be humorous, schmaltzy, tragic, and heartbreaking. Even if you haven't a drop of Irish blood in you, raise your glass today to the people of Ireland, and to dear St. Pat, without whom we'd have one less reason to party!

Black and Tan Cupcakes
"Dinner with Julie" is an amazing blog by a fellow Canadian; Julie (the blogger!) also just happens to be a friend of my sister's, who shared this link for Black and Tan Cupcakes with me. They look like little mugs of Guinness,(and also reference the British forces that operated to suppress revolution in Ireland in the early 1900s). Every good Irishman knows to avoid the topics of religion and politics (or so I was told on my first night in Belfast), enough said.
Luck of the Leprechaun Painting!
You'll need:
  • large piece of white paper
  • tempera or acrylic paints, or watercolours
  • black construction paper for the pot
  • glue
  • glitter
  • foam shamrock shapes (optional!)
Any number of crafts are suitable on St. Patrick's Day, as long as they include rainbows, crocks of gold, leprechauns, and shamrocks. The painting you see above is what I did with my kindergarten class. Give your child some red paint first, and help them paint the first arc of the rainbow (can you tell I wasn't helping Jude with his?) Then give them orange, then yellow, green, blue, and purple! I pre-cut the little pot, and helped the children sprinkle glitter onto the glue I spread there. You can decide how much control to give your child over the glitter. I tend to be very controlling about it. It's just one of those messes I HATE to clean up. But, if you're okay with finding sparkles everywhere for the next 10 years, cut them loose!
At school, we glued on the pot of gold, then added some foam shamrocks. We also glued on this little blessing:
"May St. Patrick guard you wherever you go, and guide you in whatever you do – and may his loving protection be a blessing to you always."
Seek out a St. Patrick's Day event! I'm not sure about the rest of the world, but here in the Ottawa Valley, you could go to a different event every day of the week leading up to St. Patrick's Day, all with live fiddle music and stepdancing, hot tea, beer, and food! If you're not fortunate enough to live in the Valley (just kidding!), go here for free streaming of Irish music. Put on some green, dance a jig, and act like the Irish fools that you are (or wish you were)!
Fine Motor
Fill the Leprechaun's Pot!
As I've said in previous posts, any activities that encourage your child to pinch and squeeze will strengthen the muscles in their hands, which will lead to better fine motor control (preferably NOT pinching and squeezing their siblings...). Many children ages 4-6 struggle to coordinate their hands to grip a pencil correctly. I'll do a whole post on that soon. For now, let's concentrate on hand strength!
For this activity, you can use antique sugar tongs, large tweezers, or children's chopsticks (the ones that are connected at the top, available at many toy stores), OR you can make your own, using white glue, popsicle sticks, and triangular makeup sponges.
Neat, eh? Cheap to make, and fun to use.

Tongue depressors work even better, but are harder to find. Glue the popsicle sticks on to the sponge as in the photo above. Let dry!

Now, encourage your child to "put the gold nuggets in the leprechaun's pot"...pick up pompoms with the "tweezers", and release them into the cup.

These are easier to pinch closed than chopsticks or real tweezers, so they're a good place to start. You can begin with large pompoms, then work your way down to smaller ones. Have fun!

You might think about creating a "fine motor bin" where you keep scissors, tweezers, feathers, pompoms, paper strips, etc. When you have a moment to fill, pull it down so that the activities are special and fun for your child. If you send your child to school, his/her Kindergarten teacher will thank you for the work you do with your preschool child on these skills!

I'm heading out on St. Patrick' Day to spend the rest of the March Break with my sister and her family. We'll be returning to celebrate my husband's 30th birthday on Sunday, so I'll check back in with you all next week. If anyone tried any or all of the activities shared this week, I'd love to hear about them or see photos!



  1. Happy St. Patty's Day! Wish I could join you Friday :-(
    Great week of crafts.

  2. have fun in Ottawa!!! (so so nice to see you the other day)!
    xo maureen

  3. Wait, Wait, Wait.....30th did you say??? Wow! I didn't know we had a cougar on our hands...You Go Girl! Grroowwlll!!

    (FYI-in the States, a cougar is a woman that goes after the "younger" guys..wink wink)

    May you always have The Luck Of The Irish!

  4. Cougar in Canada is the same thing! :)
    See you soon, Stephanie and bairns!

  5. What a fun and happy blog! You seem to love what you do! Thanks for sharing~


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