Is there is any value to celebrating St. Patrick's Day with young children? It is certainly a popular celebration in classrooms across America and in my own school. It seems a bit silly to me but I have been amused by the many classrooms that I have seen “leprechauns” leave a mess and a special treat of gold coins or candy. Having read the lore of Leprechauns – this was not in keeping with the true legend. Last year, with the other kindergartens celebrating this holiday, I decided to celebrate it mindful of the original lore. I began the day before having the children construct leprechaun traps from collected empty food packaging and such. After they created their trap, each child explained why they thought their trap would work. It was so interesting. We had paper leprechauns to test the trap. Here are a few of the traps:
|This child wanted candy to “lure” the leprechaun into her trap!|
We set our traps around the room on March 16. The morning of the 17th, the children arrived to a classroom that had been torn a part and not a treat or piece of gold to be seen anywhere! Some of the children were dismayed when they saw that other classes had candy left behind and we did not. So we discussed the legend of Leprechauns and read books on this Irish lore. We discovered no leprechaun would ever leave gold coins or candy so willingly. The legend was clear – you had to catch the leprechaun first! The children quickly discerned that the candy was obviously from the teachers. Interestingly, they were so excited by the fact nothing was left behind.
“Do you think we had real leprechauns?” one child inquired. Another child responded, “No. There is no such thing as a leprechaun, remember?” Yet another child searched the room for the trap they had built. Picking up their squished trap under the dollhouse, this little girl asked me, “I liked making a trap. Can we pretend to be catching leprechauns again? I want to build a trap with jewels this time. ” A group of children built traps again that afternoon. At free choice, several children pretended to be “leprechauns” and the housekeeping was “messed-up.” One child, a leprechaun, was caught by the trap another child built in blocks. It had “teeth” like a bear trap made with the triangular blocks.
I think it was so much more fun for the children to keep to the original legend. It provided a rich conversation and the value of research to find out what is the truth. It reminded me of how powerful it is to bring the truth of something. Perhaps there is nothing wrong with how other classrooms celebrate St. Patrick's Day with Leprechauns leaving treasures. Yet, I can't help but wonder – what is the point of it? What are we teaching our children in this?
There is a true education in bringing the truth of something. I love the fables and lore of countries around our globe. I want to share a taste of these cultures and their lore! We should trust the children to appreciate the real deal. And in my experience – they absolutely loved it!