By Beth Pinyerd
Ecclesiastes 3:1 – “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.”
Spring is a time for waking up! We see this in the flowers, birds singing morning praises and green clover beginning to grow everywhere.
“St. Patrick’s Day is here, you see,
We’ll pick some shamrocks, one, two, three.”
Every year, this early childhood teacher has to remind herself to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day so I don’t get pinched. I have to remind myself tonight to pull out something green tomorrow to avoid those little fingers giving their teacher a kidding pinch.
St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated each year on March 17. In Ireland, the Irish honor Saint Patrick with both a holy day and a national holiday. The Irish cherish their beautiful green countryside and remind themselves of the beauty of their country by wearing green. Although it began in Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in countries around the world with parades and other festive traditions.
Key symbols that stimulate a lot of early childhood fun and curiosity are rainbows, four leaf clovers, shamrocks and leprechauns.
I can remember as a child my fascination with beautiful rainbows. On late summer afternoons after a mid-afternoon rain, I can still remember running my little feet off through my grandfather’s field to catch that rainbow at what I thought was just at the end of the field only to run into a prism of beautiful sunlit dewy colors.
Rainbows are symbols of hope. We see this when Noah and his family are met by a rainbow of promise that there will be no more floods after stepping out of the ark where they had been protected from the earth being flooded forty days and forty nights. Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz knew there was a hope and future Somewhere over the Rainbow. On St. Patrick’s Day, we see a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow on bulletin boards, crafts and greeting cards.
Children are so fascinated by the rainbow and even try to catch a rainbow in a variety of ways. The scientific definition of a rainbow is “a curved arc of light of many colors across the sky.” Rainbows are caused by the sun’s shining rays through drops of water during or after a rain.
An experiment I have done over and over in the classroom is to take a clear glass fill it to the top with water and put it in my classroom window sill. Place a white sheet of paper on the floor in front of the window. Presto! A rainbow will be captured and reflected on the paper depending on how bright the sun is that day.
Another simple experiment that children enjoy is using a water hose. The sun must be shining with your back facing the sun. Have your little one hold the hose where you can make a fine mist and find the rainbow! So many other neat lessons are found on the web with preschool lesson plan activities.
An inside project I have done in making rainbows is simple to do. It’s so easy to gather and show. You will need to have red, blue, and yellow food color, one cup of milk, dish soap and a shallow bowl.
1) Pour the one cup of milk into the bowl; 2) Add three drops of red food color to one edge of the bowl; 3) 1/3 of the way away, add three drops of blue food color; 4) 1/3 of the way add three drops of yellow food color.; 5) Don’t bump. mix, or jiggle the bowl; 6) squeeze a drop of dish soap in the center of the bowl; 7) your little scientist needs to record what they see and 8) see a rainbow appear in the middle. This is a rainbow experiment that many early childhood teachers share with each other as a rainy day science project.
I know each of you recall the desire to frantically find the rare gem of a four-leaf clover. Many a child sits in the middle of a clover-leaf bed to find that special four-leaf clover to make a wish on. I allow my young students to take out magnifying glasses and nature bags if they cannot find that one special four leaf clover, they can gather other nature items to share back in the classroom or at home.
Other delightful ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day is to make Shamrock Ice Cream sandwiches. Just make some green sugar cookie dough or to make it easier by using refrigerator rolls and mix it in green food coloring, roll out the dough, cut out shamrock shapes with a cookie cutter or a pattern. Bake as you would cookies.
Take some green ice cream, vanilla with green food coloring, mint chip, green sherbet, or whatever is your child’s favorite ice cream. It needs to soften, then spread on the flat sides of the cookies, join the cookies together, wrap each sandwich in foil and freeze for two hours. These are yummy treats for your child to enjoy!
I know my young students really enjoyed this treat as we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day. Also pick up green gum for your little ones to enjoy for a brief treat as well as green lollipops, green jellybeans, etc.
Remember the child you’re entertaining is like the symbol and meaning of the rainbow which is a hope and a promise. I hope you find your four-leaf clover.
Pinyerd has taught young children in the Early Childhood Classroom for 34 years as well as outreaching to the elderly in intergenerational settings. If you have photos or events you would like to have featured in our education section, please send emails to firstname.lastname@example.org.