Saturday, March 16, 2013

Saint Patrick's Day in the Classroom

This year Saint Patrick's Day and spring break are so close together that it's hard to find enough time to get all the activities completed which we enjoy doing with the little ones.  Here is an easy art activity the children can do in the classroom.  You will need black construction paper, acrylic metallic-gold paint, plastic disposable bowls, and a few small potatoes.  In addition to these materials, you will also need smocks to protect the children's clothing and newsprint to protect their desks or tables.
Prepare the activity in advance:
1.  Trace a pattern of a pot on the black construction paper.  Make one for each child. 
2.  Mount the "pots' on white or green construction paper. 
3.  Cut the potatoes in half.
4.  Pour the gold paint in the throw-away bowls.
5.  Place the potatoes in the bowls.
6.  Have children use the potatoes like stamps to press circular shapes on their "Pots of Gold".

Use SMALL potatoes.
Cut them in half.

Put them in a bowl of gold paint.
Here's a blank "Pot of Gold" that is ready for a child to stamp "Gold Coins" on to.

Another fun Saint Patrick's Day activity is to go on a scavenger hunt.  We love to pretend that a leprechaun has visited our classroom.  The leprechaun has left a mess by tossing anything that's green out of place.  Although we have to clean up a green mess, he makes up for it by providing us with a surprise.  We have to follow clues the leprechaun left behind to get to the hidden treasure.  The children walk around the school, stopping at various locations such as the school office, library, auditorium, gymnasium, and computer lab.  Finally they arrive at the last clue which leads them to the treasure.  Sometimes the treasure is "Magic Mix".  The "Magic Mix" is really pistachio pie filling mix.  Of course if you do this activity, make sure that there are no dairy or nut allergies in the classroom.  Here's what you need:
1.  Four  (3.4 ounce) packages of JELL-O brand pistachio instant pudding & pie filling
2.  1 half gallon of milk
3.  a large clear container for mixing the pudding inside - one with a very secure lid (I used the Rubbermaid Carafe for the container)
4.  a long spoon
5.  plastic cups to serve the pudding in, and plastic spoons
*You might also want a measuring cup.
This is everything you need to make "Magical Leprechaun" pudding.
Remove the cardboard packaging from the JELL-O pistachio mix.  This makes it appear more mysterious.  Write something on the remaining packaging, such as "Magic Mix".  If you like, decorate it with shamrocks, March themed stickers, or anything else that has an Irish theme.

If you are using the "Magic Mix" as the treasure, find a cute or interesting looking container to put the magic mix inside for the find.  I used an orange container with some Easter grass to foreshadow things to come.

Put the pistachio pie filling in a large container. Make sure the container is large enough for the mix and the milk.

You can test to see if your container is large enough by measuring water into it beforehand. The ratio is one package of mix to two cups of milk. Four packages of mix is equivalent to one half gallon of milk. (8 cups of milk = half gallon) This method will allow you to omit measuring out the milk in a measuring cup.  You can pour a full half gallon of milk directly into the container. I ended up with more milk than my container could hold but the difference was not significant enough to alter the desired results.
With a secure lid, the contents will not spill out even when positioned upside down.
It's very important that a secure lid is used.  Otherwise, you're likely to have a mess.  The container I used said, "Extra Secure Lid Seal" and they weren't kidding!  If you are unsure about your container, place it inside a large plastic bag when you are shaking.  Additionally, positioning one hand firmly on the lid while shaking will help avert a milky mess.  A clear container allows the children to view the transformation.   
Now the hard part.  You have to shake and shake.  And shake some more.  This will be an excellent work-out for your upper arm muscles!  This method of making the pudding is a deviation from the directions on the JELL-O box but it works just the same. 
 It's a good idea to have another activity ready for the children to work on while your shaking the mix.  If you did the scavenger hunt, perhaps they could draw pictures or write about it.  Ideally, a community volunteer would be of benefit to you at this time.
After about five minutes of shaking, stop and remove the lid.  Use the long spoon to scrape the inside bottom and the sides of the container.  This will help loosen any powder that has not mixed with the milk yet.  Put the lid back on and begin shaking again.  This will take you another 5 minutes.  Then check the pudding again and stir once more with the spoon.  Repeat for 5 more minutes if needed.  Depending on how vigorously and continuously you shake, the Pistachio pudding should appear in less than 15 minutes. 
It takes 15 minutes to make "Leprechaun's Pudding".
Pour the "Leprechaun's Pudding" into plastic cups and serve.  Some children will love this treat and ask for seconds while others may choose not to eat it.  Yummy!  For a follow-up activity, purchase some pistachio nuts for the children to taste.

February 25, 2015  I have updated and UPGRADED a Saint Patrick's Day product that I sell at my "Teachers Pay Teachers" store.  It's a treasure hunt that takes the children to various locations around the school.  Use the "Magic Mix" as the treasure that is discovered, chocolate gold coins, or anything you'd like to provide the children with as a treat.  This product underwent major overhaul!  I could not be more happy with the end results!  I've changed the graphics and some of the font styles.  It now includes both BLACK ink and COLOR ink options for the clues.  I have also added one of my READING BOOKLETS readers.  I have titled it, Get the Gold.  The reader includes both black and color ink options. Many children don't have books available to them at home.  It's important to be able to offer children little books (when we are able to)  which they can take home and keep.  I am measuring the reading level on the reading booklet at mid-first grade.  The product now has two writing activities instead of one.  Additionally, I've added word cards and an assessment to go with the reading booklet. Click on the image below to go directly to the product.
If you are looking for clues that are ready to go for your Saint Patrick's Day leprechaun's treasure hunt, you might like to view the product above at Teachers pay Teachers.  Click on the picture to go directly to the product description.  

Lessons by Molly © 2013  All rights reserved.


  1. Omgoodness the potato "gold" is spectacular!! I would have never thought of that! This is a must do for me next year with my little guy. Thanks for sharing!!

    1. Cute little guy! I think he'll enjoy it next year. Thank you for commenting.

  2. Hi! I found your blog from the TpT forum and I am your newest follower! We missed Saint Patrick's Day this year and your wonderful activities are really making me miss this fun! I can't wait to try them next year. So cute! Love the Scavenger Hunt idea!!

    Beth :)

    1. Hi Beth!

      I hope you were able to try the activities last year. We always love the scavenger hunt as well.

  3. I enjoyed seeing how you celebrated in your classroom! I appreciated the photos and your honest tips!
    Forever A Teacher, Forever A Learner

    1. Thank you! We loved eating the "Magical Pudding" for Saint Patrick's Day.

  4. Looks like you had a lot of fun in your classroom St. Patrick's Day! I'm sure my kids would love to use the Magical Mix. I will definitley be trying this next year. Thanks for sharing!
    Love Teaching Kids

    1. Jennifer,

      If you make the "Magic Mix" for Saint Patrick's Day, make sure you don't have nut allergies in your classroom! Thank you for commenting.