Teaching Children about Ireland

St. Patrick’s Day Activities for Your School and Classroom

There are so many fun ideas for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day at school while teaching your students about Ireland. A visit to Ireland is a feast for all your senses and these ideas cover many of them.

The Sounds of Ireland – Bagpipes, a Brogue, and an Irish Poem

As the children approach school, or come into the classroom – play the sounds of the bagpipes. For our celebration we were lucky enough to have one of the school’s own alumni, a boy named Patrick, play the bagpipes. The Irish flag hung in the school’s foyer.

Start the day with a greeting in Gaelic and an Irish Brogue. Our morning announcements featured Irish poet Connie Roberts who read an Irish poem.

The Landscape of Ireland – Rugged Coasts, Green Fields, Castles

The landscape of Ireland is one of its greatest features. Consider setting up a “Walking Tour of Ireland” by filling your school or classroom with photos of the beautiful landscapes.

Our classes took turns taking a tour and looking at the photos and reading and learning about what was pictured. Other things that were visually represented included the painted doors of Dublin and different sports in Ireland (soccer, hurley, etc.).

Items from Ireland

Ask the children to bring in any items from Ireland they might have. Children can take turns telling the class about the items they brought in.

We had a cabinet filled with items – sweaters, tea pots, crystal vases and glasses, caps, shillelaghs, etc.

Sheep dotting Fields of Green

Ireland is said to have “40 Shades of Green.” Many of the fields of Green are sprinkled with sheep, uniquely painted to show ownership.

Prior to the day, students were given an outline of a sheep to cut out and decorate anyway they liked. The instructions with the sheep stated,

“Decorate a sheep for International Day – Ireland. Use any material (cotton balls, pipe cleaners, paint, etc.). Be creative! Farmers often mark their sheep with a colored dot, so they know which sheep is theirs. How will you mark your sheep? Fun Fact: There are approximately 8 million sheep in Ireland!” 

Children decorating sheep to learn about Ireland

Homemade Cardboard Blarney Castle

The tours culminated in visiting our Blarney Castle which we had built out of appliance boxes. The kids visited and learned about receiving the “gift of gab.”

homemade cardboard Blarney Castle | teaching children about Ireland

Irish Step Dancing

Children will enjoy watching traditional Irish Step Dancing. YouTube is filled with videos you can show. Children will especially enjoy seeing kids their age perform and seeing the elaborate costumes and wigs.

We were lucky enough (pre-pandemic of course) to enjoy a performance by Schade Academy of Irish Dance, a local Irish step dancing school. The dancers were fabulous, even the very, very youngest. Their traditional Irish step dancing outfits were beautiful!

Afternoon Tea – Serve a “cuppa”

“The Irish now drink more tea per capita than any other nation in the world – between six and seven cups a day.” Source: The Irish Times. Serve some tea with scones with jam or other baked goods.

We visited the classrooms and served tea. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to serve hot tea but the children got the idea.

Art Activities for St. Patrick’s Day

Printable Ireland St. Patrick's Day Coloring Pages make a Coloring Book Kids Class Activity Digital Download is a great way to teach kids about Ireland. Color and fold to create a book! Perfect for St. Patrick's Day. how to draw a leprechaun printable tutorial Fields of Green Ireland Painting Tutorial

St. Patrick’s Day coloring sheets and book

There are many creative projects for the kids to work on. Coloring pages are a great way to show children the symbols, landscape, and even mythical stories of Ireland. The kids can create their own books!

How to Draw a Leprechaun Tutorial

This step by step easy tutorial will have kids drawing their own leprechauns in no time!

Fields of Green Watercolor Painting Tutorial

For older kids I’ve created a painting tutorial that allows them to paint in many shades of green!

These printable art activities are available in my Etsy shop at: www.etsy.com/shop/EileenMcKennaArt

I’d love to hear the creative ways you celebrated St. Patrick’s day in school! 

Let the Watercolor Parties begin…

One of my 2015 goals is to host a watercolor party. Inspired by the Sip & Paint “movement” I thought it would be fun to invite a few friends over to paint. A way to share what I love to do.

I don’t think I’d want it to be a business, but I thought it would be fun to try a party. My friend since 1st or 2nd grade – Jen, who follows me on Instagram, asked, “Can I paint with you?”

So, when I was visiting her beautiful new home on Saturday, I brought my painting supplies. I figured I could try things out and see if I ‘d even want to try it on a group of people. A few days before, I tried teaching my young niece and my immediate thought was, “I don’t want to do this.” But armed with what I learned from my experience with my niece (who had been very happy painting what she felt like) I had the framework of a plan. My niece wanted to paint what she wanted to paint. That is part of the challenge – how do you teach people and “control” what they are working on, so you can guide them, but also allow them to be free to follow their own inspiration?

Here how I approached my lesson with Jen:

  • scrap paper – first I explained the fundamentals of watercolor and we practiced – wet on wet, wet on dry, dry on dry, etc.

It is really funny how people, who don’t normally create, feel pressure with that blank piece of paper. Jen asked, “What should I paint?” I think she felt like she was being tested. I explained it was “scrap” paper and we were just learning.

  • first assignment – draw lightly in pencil any shape and create an interesting background

The object of this assignment is to start playing with watercolor without stressing about what it’s suppose to be. Jen drew a heart in the middle. I drew a starfish. We kept our shapes dry and wet the area all around it. We concentrated on creating interesting backgrounds. I worked along with her on my own painting showing her different things I do, so she could use any techniques she wanted to. We let the backgrounds dry before we painted the shape.

  • final project – what do you want to paint?

I knew Jen was interested in painting a beach chair, so we found a photo for inspiration. (This will be more challenging for a group. I’ll have to have projects/photos ready for them to pick from.) The chair itself was really hard to draw. She started drawing it, I finished it up, but I was struggling. I guided her on what area to paint first, and talked her through the painting as needed. I was happily amazed at how quickly she picked up how to use watercolor – how wet the brush should be, when to add water, when to add paint. There was only once or twice that I interrupted to offer advice. One thing she said afterwards stuck with me. She said, “You made me feel like it was okay to mess up.”

This picture of her painting doesn’t do it justice! It came out great. I was proud of her and I think she was proud too!

It is really, really, satisfying to see someone experience that moment. That proud, “I made this,” moment. The same moment I had, a few years back, when I drew my bear. It’s the reason that there is a bear in my logo. For me it represents that moment. I may be hooked on spreading this joy! 🙂

P.S. Today she is online shopping for watercolor paints – wow.