March 17th is St. Patrick’s Day and if you’re not from Chicago it’s a big deal here! For starters we didn’t have school that day, and also the city dyes the Chicago River green! In grades K – 4th we spent the last 2 weeks focusing on not just fun Irish songs and dances, but a little history behind the holiday too!
Take a look!
If you are short on time you can buy the unit & materials: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/All-About-Ireland-3072770
Why do we celebrate an Irish holiday in America?
I think it’s important for students of any age group to understand the why of what they’re learning. Especially with a silly holiday like St. Patrick’s, its context can sometimes be glossed over or not covered at all! The fact is, this holiday is more American than it is Irish, but it was celebrated by the Irish who immigrated to this country to remember their roots (and as rallying against anti-Irish discrimination) AJ+ sums it up quite nicely in this short video (HERE) Depending on the age group, I feel discussing ideas and themes like this are more important now than ever before. It’s not hard to touch on what the potato famine was (famine = language goal!) and if I were trying to tie it into social studies, this is the part of the lesson I would do it in. Also literacy tie-ins are readily available and can’t recommend the short novel “Nory Ryan’s Song” enough. These music activities are great for generating interest and appealing to multiple intelligence types while still staying on topic and giving context to the academic content you might be learning in other subjects.
It’s a fine thing to sing!
I have so many fun songs and games. A resource I used to make sure they were authentic was the Irish Traditional Music Archive (ITMA) and depending on the grade level we participated in these four activities.
- I’m a Little Leprechaun (link 1 or link 2)
- The Rattlin’ Bog (link)
- It’s a Fine Thing to Sing (link)
- Sean Nos Irish Dancing (link)
. You can see examples in the video at the top of this blog (or HERE) of several activities, but I want to go into detail about the traditional Irish Ballad, “It’s a Fine Thing to Sing” With the help of the ITMA I found a video which listed its source and managed to track it down to the school; which was really just me Googling it. I pulled up some pictures of it from Google Images and Google Maps, and it really helped my students make a real connection to the material they were learning. I emailed the school about possibly setting up a Skype meeting or email pen pals, but they never responded. I think adding all of these authentic and personal elements to the material you are teaching not only helps to make it relevant to the real world, but also helps them gain a stronger understanding of the history and roots of the holiday.