Thursday, March 12, 2009

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day With Montessori Classroom Activities

NAMC Montessori classroom St. Patrick's day activities shamrocks clover
I love using cultural celebrations as an exciting way to incorporate different thematic learning across the curricular areas in my Montessori classroom. This year I am using St. Patrick’s Day to kick off a “Month of Green” that will culminate with Earth Day on April 22. Our Montessori class starts with reading books and discussing St. Patrick’s Day and Ireland. We will incorporate “green” as a way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day as well as a contemporary term for being environmentally conscious. Over the next month we will look at recycling, how we use and abuse natural resources, and begin to plant our school garden. The current political conflicts in Ireland provide the opportunity for activities and projects about political geography and world religions. Even with all the jumping off points for deeper curriculum exploration, there is still a ton of fun activities and reading right here!

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day With Montessori Classroom Activities

NAMC Montessori classroom St. Patrick's day activities map of ireland
St. Patrick’s Day (March 17) is the religious feast day of St. Patrick and the anniversary of the saint’s death in the fifth century. St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. He brought Christianity to Ireland and used the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity, which is why the color green is associated with St. Patrick’s Day. A fun children’s story explains how St. Patrick rid Ireland of snakes (which could represent evil forces.) This day has been observed by the Irish as a religious holiday for over a thousand years. Irish families attend church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon. Despite Lenten restrictions on eating meat, the Irish are able to eat corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day in addition to dancing and drinking.

Another popular way to celebrate is a St. Patrick’s Day parade. The first St. Patrick’s Day parade actually took place in the United States when on March 17, 1762, Irish soldiers in the English army marched through New York City. For years, there were many St. Patrick’s Day parades in New York City, but in 1848, they were united to form one large New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade. It is the world’s oldest civilian parade. It is also the largest in the United States, and has over 150,000 participants and nearly three million observers. Other cities including Boston, Chicago (famous for dyeing the Chicago River green), Philadelphia, and Savannah also celebrate the day with parades including between 10,000 to 20,000 participants.

Though Ireland is home to St. Patrick’s Day, it is celebrated by people of various backgrounds in North America and Australia. North America is home to the largest celebrations, but people celebrate as far away from Ireland as Japan, Singapore and Russia. Ireland’s St. Patrick’s Day Festival is a multi-day celebration held in Dublin, that almost one million people attend.

Montessori Classroom Activities
  • Have a St. Patrick’s Day feast with corned beef and cabbage, green eggs and ham, and green ginger ale. Try making Irish Soda Bread (see recipe below) as a class.
  • March your students through school for an educational St. Patrick’s Day parade. In each classroom, students can share a fact or two about the holiday and/or share a treat they made in keeping with the “green” theme.
  • Writing limericks can be a very enjoyable and humorous language work.
  • Students of all ages may enjoy art and language projects to learn more about the shamrock and its connection to Irish tradition (i.e., why is Ireland also called the Emerald Isle?).
  • Elementary students can work on poetry, a play, or an art project based on Irish history. The struggles of Irish immigrants to North America are also worth studying.
  • Researching saints is another activity elementary students may enjoy.
  • Students of all ages may enjoy an extensive study of Tomie dePaola and his books.
  • Follow the “green” theme toward environmental awareness beginning with the Shamrock on St. Patrick’s Day, and culminating on Earth Day (April 22), with activities across botany, art, music, language, history and geography disciplines.
Crafty St. Patrick’s Day ideas:
NAMC Montessori classroom St. Patrick's day activities irish soda bread
Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread is a dense quick bread that uses baking soda for leavening, rather than yeast, making it a quick and easy recipe to bake. Various recipes for soda bread are popular throughout Ireland, but American versions of Irish Soda Bread traditionally include California raisins, which add a scrumptious sweetness and also help to keep the soda bread moist.
Prep time: 10 minutes. Cook time: 50 to 55 minutes

What You Need:
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup California raisins
What You Do:
  • Preheat oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. 
  • Stir in buttermilk, butter and egg until well mixed; stir in raisins. 
  • Knead several times on a lightly floured board then shape into a ball. Place on prepared baking sheet and flatten slightly. 
  • Cut a small x in the top and bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a sharp knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Makes 10 servings
Books About St. Patrick’s Day
  • Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland, by Tomie dePaola
  • The Last Saint in Ireland: A Story About St. Patrick, by Sheila McGill-Callahan and Will Hillenbrand
  • St. Patrick's Day, by Gail Gibbons
  • St. Patrick's Day in the Morning, by Eve Bunting and Jan Brett
  • The Story of Saint Patrick’s Day, by Patricia A. Pingry
  • The St. Patrick’s Day Shillelagh, by Janet Nolan
Books About Ireland
  • Jamie O’Rourke and the Big Potato, by Tomie dePaola
  • Jamie O’Rourke and the Pooka, by Tomie dePaola
  • O’Sullivan Stew, by Hudson Talbott
  • Tales from Old Ireland, by Malachy Doyle and Niamh Sharkey
  • This is Ireland, by M. Sasek
  • S Is for Shamrock: An Ireland Alphabet, by Eve Bunting and Matt Faulkner
As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Thursday, March 12, 2009.


  1. What fantastic ideas! I'm not Irish, but I guess everyone is on St. Patrick's Day, right?

    I'm going to try out some of these things with my kids. Thanks!

  2. Hi Lori,

    Thank you for your kind comments. I hope your children enjoy learning about St. Patrick's Day.



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