Monday, March 4, 2013

St. Patrick's Day ~ A Shamrockin' Good TIme

One thing I love about being American, is that we will find any reason to celebrate darn near anything for any reason. Take Groundhog's Day for example.  Really? I'm still trying to figure that one out! Unfortunately, many of us don't know why we celebrate what we celebrate, but we're not about to be party-poopers, so hey, why not join the crowd?

I have learned through the journey of homeschooling how important it is to teach kids to take time to think about life and all it's dimensions. I mean really think - contemplate would be a more appropriate term.  And, in contemplating, begin to discover, understand, and eventually give reason for what we believe, what we do, what we say and why.

Many of the holidays we as Americans celebrate have become so commercialized, that I think we've forgotten to ask ourselves where the celebrations began in the first place, and why it's important to recognize and celebrate their origins.  St. Patrick's day is a prime example.

Now, I am not Irish, but when we moved to Kansas City, which has an incredible Irish culture, I decided for myself that somewhere in my 100% Czech and German heritage there must have been an Irish influence, even if only in the realm of ales and lagers.  
Beer love is programmed in my genetic code.  I can't help it! This is my St. Patty's Day party hat.  Bottle opener included! (Go getcha one here!) Who else loves a good Black-N-Tan?
Before moving to the farm, we LOVED attending the Irish Fest and St. Patrick's Day parade every year.  And, without a doubt, in our home, after Christmas and Easter, it's the boys' favorite holiday to celebrate.
First Up, Music!
First things first. You must, must, must play Irish music all day long and dance!  
Our FAVORITE Irish bands are Scythian (big in the DC area!), 
and The Elders, a local Kansas City band that tours all over the U.S.
Up Next, Crafts & Educational Projects...
In the classroom, reading a great story about the holiday we celebrate is essential.  We love Joyce Denham and Diana Mayo's Patrick, Saint of Ireland.
Tomie de Paola's illustrations are wonderful in his book, Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland.
Last year we made a collage of various aspects of Irish heritage including
1. A map of Ireland, which we colored and labeled Dublin and other major POI's.) 
2.  The Irish flag, made with the boys' handprints and its meaning described below the flag.  
3.  A list of Ireland's literary giants  such as Yeats, Wilde, Joyce and C.S. Lewis and excerpts of their work.
While the older ones work on their collage, Henry will have fun making this hilarious orange Leprechaun Beard, which I found on Pinterest.  Now, I just have to find a hat!
Then, my little bearded buddy will be ready to go on his "lucky gold hunt", just one of hundreds of ideas I have found on No Time For Flashcards.
My wee-little shamrock-sugar, Charlie, will be donning this sweet number from Shopantsypants on Etsy.  I can't wait to see him in it!
Wee Irish Home Decor...
It's fun for me to get creative with ordinary things we have around the house and dress up our vintage buffet for various holidays.  Using some old scrapbook paper, ribbon and card stock, I made this banner with free printable letters from Martha Stewart .  
The "Lucky to Have You." printable was copied on card stock and placed in an old frame.  Simple!

Add a few dishes, pretty bottles of wine and a little bouquet of flowers and voila!
Finally, Food and Drink!...
When I found this fruit rainbow with the Rolo pot of gold on Pinterest, I knew it would be perfect for snack time.  Unfortunately, not one photo that I clicked on took me to the original source.  So, if you happened to know who took this lovely photo, please let me know so that I can give him/her some props!
Traditions are often the most memorable when they are marked with celebratory food.  My boys don't exactly come running to the table over corned beef and cabbage, but they love this recipe for Irish Beef and Guinness Stew.  I make it in the crock pot and the house smells delish all day long!
The stew is wonderful served with a platter of hot Blarney Biscuits which include a good wish for everyone attending the dinner.  You can write traditional Irish messages like, "May the wind be always at your back," or you can personalize them.  For example, "May all of your friends be as kind as you are."
Wash down your biscuits and stew with a mug of your favorite brew or a St. Patty inspired cocktail! (Recipes can be found here.)
Save the best for last - DESSERT!!  These Shamrock Shakes from Catholic Cuisine are perfect!  We didn't quite follow the recipe, instead threw in Oreos, peppermint extract, vanilla ice cream, a dash of green food coloring and milk, then topped it off with whipped cream, green sprinkles and chopped up peppermint patties.  YUM!!

{Photo Credit}


  1. I love this! what awesome ideas!

    I am 100% Irish ( I'm only Italina by marriage!) My poor kids are only 1/2 Irish!)
    Thanks for sharing such fun activities....We do much the same; play Irish music, bake soda bread and cook CB and C all day long.....
    The kids love marching in the Paddy's Day parade with our CYO also. Your family has a lot of spirit! Everyone's Irish on St Patrick's Day!

    Have a wonderful night!


    1. I miss the St. Patty's parades in Kansas City so much! Our family went every year. I think my kids do think that we are Irish!! Thanks for stopping by!!

  2. WOW! So much awesomeness! I love the Tomie DePaola book, one of my favorites. And I will be using these drink recipes, hopefully lots of them!

  3. So. Many. Great resources here! Thank you!

    You're right, after living in Britain, we Americans are so much more sophisticated in our holiday-celebrating. All they have that we don't is Bonfire Day and Boxing Day (which is smushed right up against Christmas). Then a bunch of boring "bank holidays." Like, literally, it's a holiday because the bank is closed, go have fun being off of work!

    But the frequent observance of holidays (holy days) is a huge part of our Catholic culture.

    I'll be back to implement some of these awesome activities.

  4. Can I come over for St. Patrick's day? The only thing we ever have planned is green pancakes.

  5. Mmm....shamrock shakes. I think we've got some mint ice cream in the freezer - that will work! :-)

    I like the handprint flag idea, too. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Love all these ideas! The beard is hysterical.

  7. Ms. Susan, I shared your photo and post here:

    And reproduced the picture. I figured that was okay since it has the watermark and I give full credit. But if it makes you uncomfortable, let me know and I will remove it ASAP!

  8. Love all the pictures! I can't wait to try out the rainbow snacks for my kids. I might end up eating the whole pot of gold myself. (I love Rolos!) Thanks for sharing!

  9. Here I am, a year later, still referring back to you for reference. What a great resource! And we're pretty darn close to Ireland this time. c:


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