Monday, March 16, 2015

St. Patrick's Day

In public school, children are making leprechaun traps and wearing green to celebrate St. Patrick's day. In Boston and Chicago they have big parades and dye the nearest body of water green. I grew up in an Irish town. I marched in the St. Patty's Day parade every year when I was in school. I never knew the real meaning of the holiday though. I never knew who St. Patrick was. I was told he was, "the patron saint of Ireland," but being raised baptist I had no idea what a patron saint was. I thought maybe he was an Irish king. Where I grew up people didn't say, "Happy St. Patty's day." They said, "Erin go bragh," Ireland forever. Like, "Viva la france." Was he Ireland's Napoleon??

It wasn't until I was an adult that I looked into what St. Patrick's day is really all about and who St. Patrick was. Patrick was not Irish!!! His name wasn't even Patrick! It was Maewyn Succot. He was the child of Roman citizens living in Kilpatrick, Scotland. When he was a teenager he was captured by PIRATES and taken to Ireland. There he lived as a slave among the pagan Irish people. He escaped when he was 20 and became a priest. Then God convicted him to return to the land that had once enslaved him and to preach the gospel. He witnessed to an entire nation and brought them to Jesus. Legend has it that he used a shamrock to teach the trinity, using the three leaves to represent the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. What a legacy! What a story! How has his life NOT been made into a movie yet??? Hollywood wishes they could write a story like that. 

I want to teach people the true meaning of St. Patricks' day. This week I taught my preschoolers at co-op about St. Patrick. Here is what we did.... 

I wanted to read them, The Story of St. Patrick's Day by Patricia A. Pingry but I can't seem to find my copy. I am going to have to buy it again I suppose. We watched a Veggie Tales video instead. 

Then we traced and colored a shamrock and discussed the trinity. 

I found a lot of patterns and sizes worksheets for math but they all had leprechauns or something silly on them. One of the legends I always heard growing up was that if you follow a rainbow to the end, you will find to a pot of gold. So I wanted to talk a little about money. Not surprisingly, I could not find many preschool activities involving money so I made up my own using ideas from Pinterest of course. Feel free to print off your own copy. I might even make one for the other coins if there is an interest. 

This lesson teaches the value of a penny and one-to-one correspondence. Also this is just more fun than a boring old worksheet. 

Next we watched a video about how rainbows are formed. 

Then we tried a few experiments to see if we could make a rainbow of our own. First we tried to use the jewels on my necklace as a prism. It created a neat disco ball effect but no rainbows. Then we tried shining a computer disk in the sunlight. WOW!!! What a rainbow! It was beautiful! The kids had so much fun taking turns manipulating the rainbow that they did not want to try the final experiment. If I had known the CD trick was going to work so well, I would have saved it for last. Our final experiment was the mirror in water with a flashlight trick that I did with Twizzler a couple of weeks ago. It just couldn't compare to the CD rainbow. 

For our music lesson, we listened to some Celtic music and tried dancing to it. Then we watched a video of some Irish step dancers. 

We took lessons and tried it out ourselves. It was a lot of fun. We laughed at ourselves. 

Finally for our craft, I found a cute art project on Pinterest and added the bible verse, "Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven" -Matthew 6:20. They did not turn out quite like the picture but the lesson was learned and that is all that matters. 

I think it is important for Christians to celebrate St. Patrick's day, not by dying things green and drinking Guinness. Be a witness. Tell someone about Jesus. Remember the boy who was kidnapped and enslaved but went back years later and told his captures about God's love and sacrifice so that they could go to heaven. No wonder all of Ireland celebrates his name. 

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