"Most young children are not really aware of what St. Patrick's Day is about, says Abigail Connors, author of Shake, Rattle, and Roll: Rhythm Instruments and More for Active Learning. "I asked a four-year-old once why we celebrate St. Patrick's Day, and he said, 'To wear green socks.' When we talk about celebrating the country of Ireland, they usually understand. But, I have found that listening to authentic Irish music in the context of a game is more engaging and meaningful."
1. Make four or five large (about 10 inches in diameter) cardboard circle with green shamrocks drawn on them. Explain that shamrocks are a kind of clover that is a symbol of Ireland. Tape the shamrocks to the floor with masking tape, in a row, about 6 inches apart.
2. Have the children rake turns jumping on each shamrock. Play some authentic Irish music in the background to accompany this activity. One of my favorite Irish pieces is "Mulvihill's/Irish Washerwome/Whelan's" by Sean Tyrell (available via music-purchasing websites.) Tyrell plays many Irish string instruments beautifully, and the music is invigorating.
3. Some children may jump sedately; some may do big, flashy jumps. Some may try hopping on one foot. But remember, if the children miss the shamrocks or even just choose the walk on them rather than jump, that is okay. This is not a test - it is just for fun.
4. Variation: You can do hopscotch-style games for any occasion. Make cardboard cutouts of hearts for Valentine's Day, flags for the Fourth of July, pumpkins for Halloween, and so on, choosing appropriate music for the children to hop along with.
- Coordination (jumping along a line of shamrock shapes)
- Locomotor skills (jumping, hopping, or walking)
- Multicultural awareness (responding in movement to Irish music)
- Social skills (taking turns)