Top 5 Fun St. Patrick’s Day Activities for Class

What is St. Patrick’s Day?

St. Patrick’s Day celebrates the life of Saint Patrick—the patron saint of Ireland. This influential missionary has been credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland.

It’s a day of green shamrocks and leprechauns in cities from New York to Boston to Chicago.   And as the Irish say, “On St. Patrick’s Day everyone is Irish.”  According to the History Channel, “the holiday is grounded in history that dates back more than 1,500 years. The earliest known celebrations were held in the 17th century on March 17, marking the anniversary of the death of St. Patrick in the 5th century.”

It’s also a great time to create fun lessons to share with your students.  As a cultural event they might be familiar with the origins of the historical St. Patrick, leprechauns, or the American interpretation of this day.

So where to begin?  Our Irish colleagues at ThinkFives can help you celebrate Irish heritage with these great suggestions for teacher lessons.

There are 34.7 million U.S. residents with Irish ancestry. This number is more than seven times the population of Ireland itself.

Fact or Fiction: St Patrick’s History

Fact or Fiction: St Patrick’s History

In a world where fake news sometimes seems to outshine real news, you can create a history activity by asking students to determine what we know about St. Patrick and the many legends.

Why don’t we start with a quick True or False quiz?

  1. The real St. Patrick was born in Britain.
  2. At age 16 he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and sold as a slave to a Celtic priest in Northern Ireland.
  3. There were no snakes around for Patrick to banish from Ireland.
  4. The first St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the United States was held in Boston (1737).
  5. Your odds of finding a four-leaf clover are about 1 in 10,000.

If you answered True to all 5 questions, then you are green to the core.

According to the History Channel,

  1. Historians generally believe that St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, was born in Britain (not Ireland) near the end of the 4th century.
  2. At age 16 he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and sold as a slave to a Celtic priest in Northern Ireland.
  3. Research suggests snakes never occupied the Emerald Isle in the first place. There are no signs of snakes in the country’s fossil record.
  4. The first St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the United States was held in Boston (1737).
  5. Your odds of finding a four-leaf clover are about 1 in 10,000 (The Daily Telegraph).

Get Lucky with Leprechauns 

Leprechauns have enchanted children for centuries.  It’s easy to create fun activities with leprechauns that range from drawing activities for younger students to creative writing exercises for older students.

Get Lucky with Leprechauns

A little background to get you started

  • Leprechauns are likely based on Celtic Fairies. The original Irish name for these figures of folklore is “lobaircin,” meaning “small-bodied fellow.”
  • Leprechauns are known as mischievous Irish fairies. In Celtic folktales, leprechauns were cranky souls, responsible for mending the shoes of the other fairies.
  • Wherever there are leprechauns, there are stories of people trying to steal their gold. The rule is, if you’re lucky enough to catch a leprechaun, you can never take your eyes off him or he’ll disappear.
  • Leprechauns can be generous, too. One legend mentions a down-on-his-luck nobleman who offered a leprechaun a ride on his horse. In return, the man returned to his crumbling castle to find it filled to the ceiling with gold.

Now what could be more fun than asking students to write a short story about a leprechaun and sharing it with the class?

Go Green

Go Green

A great green activity is to grow shamrocks in a class garden or individual milk cartons. This Celtic spring flower became a symbol of emerging Irish nationalism in the 1700’s.

While the final blossoms won’t be as large as a Halloween pumpkin or tasty as a spice garden, it can be exciting to see if you can grow that elusive four-leaf clover.

Remember the odds are 10,000 to 1.  So if you had a class size of 25 students and did this activity every year, you would be likely to find one if you taught for 400 years.  But the Irish are a positive people, so think of it this way. With 4,000 early childhood classrooms in the US, that means one lucky student will find the magic every year.

Sample Irish Foods

Takes too long to grow shamrocks or make a shamrock shake?  How about an Irish food potluck in class?  Parents can share some favorite foods.  Or you can expand the focus and also have other cultures share their foods as well.

Sample Irish Foods

A few Irish food facts to get started:

  • The meal that became a St. Patrick’s Day staple across the country—corned beef and cabbage—was an American innovation. While ham and cabbage were eaten in Ireland, corned beef offered a cheaper substitute for impoverished immigrants.
  • Irish-Americans living in the slums of lower Manhattan in the late 19th century and early 20th, purchased leftover corned beef from ships returning from the tea trade in China. The Irish would boil the beef three times—the last time with cabbage—to remove some of the brine.
  • Beer is one of the most widely consumed beverages on St. Patrick’s Day and Guinness is one of the most popular drinks for the occasion.
  • Irish soda bread is very popular. Every family has its own recipe for soda bread. Some like it sweet with a spoonful of honey, sugar or dried fruits.
  • Irish stew, Colcannon and champ, boxty, and shepherd’s pie are also popular.
Discover the American Traditions

Discover the American Traditions

The evolution of St. Patrick’s Day is quite interesting. In Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day had been viewed mostly as a religious observance, and up until the 1960s, they even had laws that forbade bars from being open that day.  It was Irish American immigrants who started many of the traditions we now recognize as St. Patrick’s Day, in part to honor their homeland.

A few American fun facts:

  • The first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place not in Ireland but in New York in the 1760s.
  • New York City’s parade is now the world’s oldest civilian parade and the largest in the United States.
  • The world’s shortest St. Patrick’s Day parade is held in an Irish village. It lasts only 100 yards, between the village’s two pubs.
  • Chicago began its annual tradition of turning the Chicago River green on St. Patrick’s Day in 1962.
  • In 1948, President Harry S. Truman attended New York City‘s St. Patrick’s Day parade, a proud moment for the many Irish Americans whose ancestors had to fight stereotypes and racial prejudice to find acceptance in the New World.

Do you have any St. Patrick’s Day celebrations?



  1. When I taught younger students I would get a co-worker to come mess up our classroom at lunch. (Flip chairs, books everywhere, things upside down and backwards). The kids thought it was the leprechaun who came and caused chaos but then left us a bucket of gold chocolate coins. Then we did a writing project using sensory words to describe the chocolate. So much fun!

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