Think green, think spring, think Saint Patrick’s Day coming up on March 17.
Kids enjoy learning about interesting people and places. As parents, we can be instrumental in helping our children discover the diverse cultures that make up our world and our national heritage. That discovery is an important step in appreciating and respecting ethnic differences.
To get started, enjoy some family fun this month as many Irish Americans celebrate the “luck of the Irish.”
Here are some ideas and a craft to help keep you thinking “green.”
1. Go online or check out library books on Ireland. Learn the difference between Northern Ireland and The Republic of Ireland, and other interesting facts and curiosities about the Emerald Isle. Talk to Irish-American neighbors and discover what their families do to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
2. List names and surnames that are typically Irish, such as Liam, Megan, Shannon and O’Brien. Do any of your kids’ friends have Irish names? Any Irish ancestors in your family tree?
3. Make easy-to-create brilliant green shamrock suncatchers to hang in your window to welcome friends for a visit. Here’s how:
Ask your young kids to sort through crayon boxes, and look for “almost used up” shades of green crayons. Peel off the paper.
Make crayon shavings in piles, by shade, from the peeled crayons using a grater or a crayon sharpener.
Lay a sheet of wax paper, waxed side up, on a small stack of newspapers on an ironing board. Sprinkle the shavings evenly over the wax paper. Set a second sheet of wax paper on top, this time waxed side down. Cover with a lightweight cloth. Using an iron set at Warm, an adult may iron over the cloth until the shavings melt. Remove the cloth.
Make cutout shamrock shapes from your “stained glass” sheets. Glue string or fishing line to the top of each shamrock and hang them by a window.
Tip: It’s easy to make a shamrock pattern by arranging three paper heart shapes with the points touching.
For those of us who don’t claim Ireland in our lineage, it’s a stretch to dance a jig, much less remember to wear something green on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17. No wonder I was pleased when I shared a photo of this paper strip shamrock craft idea with my neighbor and received a reply, “Your shamrock warms my Irish heart!”
The shamrock has traditionally been the national emblem of Ireland, so why not display it with creativity as a sign not only of the coming holiday, but also a welcome to the green of a long-awaited spring?
Grab some green construction paper and basic supplies from your home office. Enjoy this messless art project with your school-age kids. Your preschooler can also lend a hand, when you make it together.
Here’s the stuff you’ll need:
–2 sheets of construction paper in two different colors. (I chose a light and a dark shade of green for these directions)
–thread or fishing line for hanging
–paper cutter (optional)
Here’s the fun: (Find step-by-step photos at www.donnaerickson.com)
1. Make the paper strip hearts.
For each heart, measure, mark with a pencil and cut with scissors or a paper cutter:
2 strips of light-green construction paper cut 1 inch by 3 inches;
2 strips of dark-green construction paper 1 inch by 5 inches.
Pile the 4 strips starting with one light-green short strip, the two dark-green long strips and end with the remaining light-green short strip on top. They should be evenly stacked up at one end. Carefully staple this 1-inch-wide stack about 1/4 inch from the even end.
Bring the loose ends of the short light-green strips away from the pile (and over the staple) to form a heart shape. Hold with one hand as you pull back the long strips in the same manner.
Staple the four strips together near the pointed end of the hearts.
Make two more.
2. Make the shamrock.
Arrange three completed paper strip hearts on a work surface to make a shamrock. Staple the pointed heart ends together. Bend the paper near the staple to spread out the sides. Cut-out and glue on a thin paper stem.
Make several paper strip shamrocks and hang in a window or from a chandelier.