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.
“I’ve never seen snow fall,” said 37-year-old Megan Anduri-Flynn, biology instructor and mom of 5-year-old Nicola, until a rare snowstorm surprise hit in Beaverton, Oregon. “We got a foot of snow, and it stuck.”
The unexpected wintry blast opened up new opportunities for family play, including for Nicola’s California-raised 69-year-old grandmother, who made her first snow angel in the backyard.
An avid nature lover, Megan and her husband’s move from Southern California was motivated by her love for Oregon’s rustic outdoor living. But when she packed up Nicola’s beach toys, she didn’t expect that her buckets and shovels would be used for building castles of snow instead of sand.
Taking advantage of the fabulous snow day, Nicola scooped the fluffy stuff and packed it into the buckets, then flipped them upside-down, like she had done with damp sand on the sunny beaches of L.A., to create snow castles for a charming kingdom to play in.
She dabbed watercolor paints with a brush here and there on the snow-packed structures. Plastic Disney characters Jasmine, Cinderella, Ariel and Belle were placed on roofs and turrets to bring the scene to life in her imagination.
Inspired by the freeze, she also made beautiful icy suncatchers to hang from branches using baking pans and her great-grandmother’s metal gelatin molds.
This easy craft is fun to make during wintertime, anywhere. If you are in a warmer climate, make the indoor version in your freezer for a punchbowl when friends come by for a special occasion.
Here’s the stuff you’ll need:
–metal cake pan or cupcake pan
–dried flowers, leaves, potpourri for suncatcher
–decorative edible items such as thinly sliced oranges, limes, strawberries and mint for edible version
–strong string or wire for a hanger
–food coloring (optional)
Here’s the fun:
1. Set natural decorative items into the pan. For punch-bowl ice, add edible items. When frozen, remove and add to punch.
2. For outdoor version, add a 20-inch length of twine or wire in the water, making sure it is submerged near the top of the mold. Fill with water and set in the freezer.
When the temperature outside is freezing, remove the ice shape from the pan and hang from a branch where a glimmer of light will shine through.