I’ve always been a big fan of Saint Patrick’s day. I have Irish blood in my family and I’m quite proud of it. In fact, my name, Colleen, is the anglicized form of Cailín which, in Ireland, means “small or young girl”
I remember being called “Colleeny Beany” by my parents when I was young, and today I learned that not only is bean a coordinate term of cailín, but that in Irish it can mean “Fairy Woman”
I’ll have to go and ask my parents if they knew that all those years they had been calling me a “small young fairy woman”
Someday I hope to actually visit the Emerald Isle and see it for myself, but until then, I’ll just happily keep celebrating my roots. One of my fondest memories is when my brother and I were kids, our mother would always surprise us on the morning of Saint Patrick’s day by making the milk in our cereal and glasses green! How neat!?
Anyhow, ON TO STORYTIME!
I had quite the difficult time planning this storytime even with all my knowledge of and affinity for the holiday I was using as my theme. Turns out, there aren’t many age / length appropriate, picture laden, Irish or Saint Patrick’s day themed books! 😦 I found a few that were ok but they were, of course, checked out with lots of holds, bummer. We did have a really cool collection of traditional Irish folk and fairy tales, but again, those are often a bit darker or heavier that I’d like for preschoolers and they are usually quite long and wordy with few or no pictures, not great for storytime.
I ended up settling on a short folk tale about a leprechaun that I read and then one book that I thought was a great tie in even though it technically had nothing to do with Saint Patrick’s day or Ireland.
Before I read the folk tale, I asked the kids if they knew what leprechauns were and then we talked a bit about them and a few other Saint Patrick’s Day and Irish folktale themed terms or associations; we covered all the basics like shamrocks and rainbows and pots of gold (magically delicious!) and then I asked if they knew what happens if you catch a leprechaun which led right into the folk tale story.
The book I picked was “Where is the Green Sheep” by Mem Fox. I thought that was a clever story considering Ireland is the “Emerald Isle” and heavily associated with Green and they are also well known for their sheep and wool which I of course explained to the kids. Perfect! I also loved the author’s name, Mem, as that’s my mother’s nickname and she’s where I get most of my Irish roots. 🙂
It’s a really cute book with rhymes and opposites and associations that are easy enough for the kids to pick up on and kind of read along with you.
After the folk tale (which didn’t go over super well in my Monday night session) and the book (which was a HUGE hit) we broke out the flannel board and did some counting!
I printed out 5 leprechauns and 1 fairy and laminated them for this activity. ( I need to stop cheating so much and start making them by hand more which also means I need to pick less intricate things to make haha)
Five little leprechauns
Five little leprechauns digging for some gold. (Digging motion)
One slipped down and fell into a hole. (Falling)
The others called for help and a fairy began to scold, (Shaking finger)
Now how many leprechauns digging for gold? (Count)
Four little leprechauns digging for some gold.
(And so on…)
No little leprechauns to dig for gold. (Shrug shoulders.)
All five of them fell down in the hole. (Hold up five fingers, then point down.)
Above them stands the fairy who scolds, (Hands on hips)
“I told you all to stop digging for that gold!” (Shaking finger)
I often have a hard time telling if the kids are excited because they are so good at counting, or bored because it’s too easy because every once in a while you get a group that doesn’t wait until the rhyme sequence is done to start yelling out the number or counting. Either way, I just keep on keepin’ on and praise them for being SO smart!
When we were done with counting, I broke out the rainbow scarves so we could move around and have some fun. My original thought for this was to put on some traditional Irish music and dance around to that but I
1. couldn’t settle on any particular song, and
2. am not much for dancing, especially when it’s not structured.
So I decided against music. turns out my group on Monday was too loud and rowdy anyhow so it would have been hard to hear. I ended up just talking about rainbows and different ways we could make one. We made rainbows on the right, and rainbows on the left, then rainbows on our heads and our feet and eventually I start asking them how else we could do that and at one point, one creative kid suggested making a rainbow on the flannel board and ran up to stick the scarf on it. Unfortunately, as neat as the idea was, the scarves don’t stick and I soon had 25+ small children trying to smush scarves onto a small easel. I tried my best to control the chaos before it got too bad but it wasn’t going well so I proclaimed the best scarf rainbow ever had been made and that it was now time to make a different kind of rainbow in the craft room where I had a hearty supply of paper shamrocks, cotton balls, and little paper coins for them to glue to sheets of paper in the colors of the Irish flag and markers with which to draw whatever they felt the need to get out. The word “craft” to our storytime kids is much like the word “treat” or “park” to my dogs; they drop whatever they’re doing and focus. Sometimes I feel like I should have a craft set up back there behind the room divider JUST IN CASE. Oh no, Joey and Timmy are arguing over who sits where and just won’t stop, that’s ok, CRAFT TIME! Sally doesn’t want to read that book…or any book and is adamant in voicing that opinion because she’s strong and confident, awesome, CRAFT TIME! No? Not a great idea? oh, ok.
Actually, crafts are something that I’d like to start working in to more of my storytimes. I know that some people do crafts EVERY time, and others are somewhat “anti-craft” and to each their own, but I like them, and I get TONS of positive input from parents each time that I have one. I know that some people think that storytime should be for stories, but I don’t see any reason why crafts should be any less a part of storytime than rhymes or songs or dancing. If nothing else, I believe that a craft that relates to the theme of the books that were read will help a child to retain the concept or simply remember things better by giving them one more thing with which to associate it. Some learn by listening, some by doing. Not to mention that I try to pick crafts that encourage them to draw or write which helps them practice learning their letters and handwriting which will lead to them being able to write confidently and, who knows, maybe even write and/or illustrate a picture book that could some day find it’s way into a storytime. Full circle, ya know?
Anywho, So with my Thursday session, I knew that it would be after Saint Patrick’s day, but I didn’t want to do two completely separate themes so I kept it mostly the same but just focused a bit less on the holiday itself (which I often try to do and just focus more on a concept of said holiday) and tried to talk more about just Ireland in general. Luckily since the holiday had passed, I was able to finally get my grubby paws on a better book about a leprechaun. I, once again, chose a story about a leprechaun that didn’t actually relate to the holiday and was more of a folk tale and instead of the boring, picture-less version I did on Monday, (sorry kids) I went with “The Leprechaun Under the Bed” by Teresa Bateman. I really liked the story since it covered most of the leprechaun basics, shoe makers/cobblers, have gold, are magical, that kind of stuff, but didn’t get too into the whole end of the rainbow, after me lucky charms gimmick. Because of that, I thought it felt like a good folk tale but still had all the awesome fun and pictures of a regular picture book. The kids really dug it. It was still pretty wordy compared to what I usually try to pick out, but that was pretty much how every book I found on the topic was. Unfortunately,because of the length, I had my eyes glued to the pages most of the time and didn’t get to look around as much as I typically like to, but whenever I did, the kids were all quietly engrossed so that was excellent! We changed the order up a bit on Thursday as well and did the five little leprechaun rhyme right after the leprechaun book and then did the sheep book again which went over just as well, if not better than with the first group. We also did the scarves again on Thursday, even knowing how Monday went; I like to flirt with danger, what can I say. This time I lucked out 😉 and the kids managed to come up with some pretty good ideas that didn’t involve storming unstable structures. We made square rainbows, circle rainbows, triangle rainbows, and even rainbows in the shape of stars! They really tested my shape knowledge! I also saw a handful of parents get in on the scarf action. I love when I see the adults getting silly with the kids. 😀
Then, CRAFT TIME!
Again, the craft was a big hit and I loved seeing what they created. It’s so neat to see how different each group can be. The Monday session all seemed to try to stick pretty closely to the example I made even though I stress each time that they can make anything their creative little hearts desire, where as Thursday’s group seemed to get a bit more free form with their interpretations. both equally awesome in their own way. 🙂
Since Spring officially starts today, or tomorrow, I’m not sure, Next week’s theme will be SPRING! YAY! prepare for bunnies and flowers and chicks, Oh my!