Three Simple Activities to Celebrate St. Patrick's Day

If you've read  St. Patrick: A Truth Story, you will learn the true meaning of St. Patrick's Day. It's so much more than rainbows, leprechauns, and a pot of gold. 

Through homeschooling, we get to share these celebrations and their rich meanings. We get to explore things so much deeper than if our children were in a public school.

My children are older now, but these three simple activities stuck with them - and I think they will stick with your children, too.

Three Simple Activities to Celebrate St. Patrick's Day

*This post has been adapted from March, 2012 - my children were 7 and 10 at the time.

Make it a simple week with Poetry, Music and a Sweet Treat. Listen to the music and recite the poem each day - save the sweet treat for the end of you week. Simple!


A Poem for St. Patrick's Day

Copywork and memorization were always important in our homeschool. For every special day we had a poem to memorize, and it had to be copied. 

Our favorite for St. Patrick's Day is The Dear Little Shamrock. I've created a printable of the poem for you so you can hang it in your school area, memorize, and recite together.

Download The Dear Little Shamrock

(I always loved using my Notebooking Pages subscription for lined copywork pages - they have them for every holiday!)

Notebooking Pages LIFETIME Membership

Music for St. Patrick's Day

The following are five Irish folk songs. Play one for your child each day - ask them to listen quietly - how does the music make them feel? What instruments  - if any - do they hear? What voices do they hear? 

Point out to your children that folk songs are a way a culture passes along its stories from generation to generation. Folk songs tells us a lot about a people.

(Remember, I'm a music teacher, so I love this! If you need musical help, come visit me at SQUILT Music!)



Sweet Treats for St. Patrick's Day

Miss B loves to work in the kitchen.  I showed her this project (remember she was 11 at the time) from Pinterest and she did the rest... I think the shamrocks turned out pretty cute. 

If you decide to make these little goodies, we put the kiss-topped pretzels in the oven for five minutes at 200 degrees.  This was just enough time for them to be melty... then stick the three green M&Ms in... put in the refrigerator to firm up and then use icing for the stem.  


Sweet Treats for St. Patrick's Day

Simple, right? 

Have a wonderful time celebrating St. Patrick's Day!



The Power of Story in the Elementary Homeschool Years

Stories shape us.

Think of the favorite stories of your childhood or the favorite stories you have shared with your own children. 

As CS Lewis so aptly stated - stories "steal past watchful dragons" to implant in our minds a picture of things worth valuing. 

Isn't that why we homeschool? To implant in our children's mind that which is to be valued? 

We have a unique opportunity in our homeschools to teach almost EVERYTHING through story - because at the root of all knowledge and greatness are individuals, whose STORIES inspire us to greatness and to deeper understanding.

(Consider a story on the blog, Secret Heroes of WWI, which takes a child's love of horses and inspires them to learn more about World War I.)

Let's examine basic ways to use story with your elementary age homeschool kiddos. Perhaps this will inspire you to incorporate stories in ALL areas of learning, with all ages and types of learners.

The Power of Story in Your Homeschool

But first, let's start with me telling YOU a story.

This is the story of one mother who was deeply committed to the public school system. This mother had even taught in the public school system.

When the day arrived for this mother's oldest child to attend public Kindergarten, however, the mother was a MESS. Something didn't feel right. She cried the whole way home and continued to cry on and off for nearly the next three years until she and her husband finally gave up the ideal of public school and decided to homeschool.

Once this mother began homeschooling she saw the immense power of STORIES and the value in living books. She saw the power in learning stories from older family members and in learning history through story. In short, she became hooked on STORIES and began incorporating them in her homeschool anyway she could.

This is the story of me - and I suspect perhaps of you, too. 

Stories are important. They have shaped my children's education, and I am so thankful for that!


Storytelling is the Oldest Form of Teaching


Storytelling has been around since the beginning. Before people could read or write, they could tell stories. 

The Power of Story in Your Homeschool

Storytelling bonded the earliest of human communities and gave children answers to the biggest questions of creation, life, and the afterlife. Stories define, shape, control, and make us. Isn't it interesting that not every human culture in the world has been (or is) literate, but every culture tells stories? 

Stories are UNIVERSAL.

The Creation Story is the oldest story we know, and so many other engaging stories from the Bible follow. The very first stories I told my children were Bible stories - owning a beautiful Bible story treasury is a must! The Beginner's Bible was a well-loved book on our shelves! 

In this way we began to implant the seeds of our faith, and also moral tales of right and wrong, good and evil, and life and death in our children. 

Don't forget to search out STORY within your own circle - within your family, church, community, and friends. Sometimes, if you just LISTEN and SEARCH, there are many older people willing to share their stories with our children. These can be perhaps the stories with the most lasting impact. 


Story and Elementary Age Children

Story can be used to teach all concepts and subjects. 

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but rather a jumping off point to get your imagination going and those ideas flowing. These are my children's favorite stories - and the ones I have seen have the biggest impact on our homeschool. You will also find that I'm including specific categories for teaching - the fun picture books that we all have on the shelves probably won't be included here.

Full Disclosure: I have a problem with collecting books! We use the library a lot, but I also invest in books because I find that having them on hand to loan and reference throughout our homeschool tenure has been helpful. I've included Amazon links to all of the books I recommend.


Fables/Folk Tales/Nursery Rhymes/Mythology

We're big fans of treasuries in our house. I had many from when I was a child. It's just a great way to have everything in one place.

Here are some favorite collections to get you started! 

The Classic Treasury of Aesop's FablesFrederick's Fables: A Leo Lionni Treasury of Favorite StoriesMary Engelbreit's Nursery and Fairy Tales Collection: A Treasury of Children's ClassicsFavorite Nursery Rhymes from Mother GooseRead-Aloud Rhymes for the Very YoungOriginal Mother GooseMy First Mother GooseTomie dePaola's Mother GooseAmerican Tall TalesThe Complete Folk & Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm (Wisehouse Classics - The Complete and Authoritative Edition)Tales of Ancient Egypt (Puffin Classics)Animal Folk Tales of America: Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill, The Jumping Frog, Davy Crockett, Johnny Appleseed, Sweet Betsy, and many othersTreasury of Greek Mythology: Classic Stories of Gods, Goddesses, Heroes & MonstersD'Aulaires' Book of Greek MythsD'Aulaires' Book of Norse Mythsd'Aulaires' Book of Norwegian Folktales



Stories to Learn About History

I could go on and on with a list for you. 

By far, The Story of the World has been the biggest example of how STORY helps children learn.  If you watch the video below I talk about how we've used the written books, audio books, and also notebooking with SOTW. 

A simple search for Story of the World Reading Lists (and also books mentioned in the SOTW teacher's guides) will recommend so many wonderful books, so I won't list those here - it would be impossible to include all of the beautiful historical fiction for our younger children! 

Two of our favorite series are below.  These books definitely engaged my son and daughter.

Many of the books dealing with history will also be found in the other categories below -- because doesn't history encompass so much? 



Facing West: A Story of the Oregon Trail (Once Upon America)Earthquake!: A Story of Old San Francisco (Once Upon America)Pearl Harbor Is Burning!: A Story of World War II (Once Upon America)The Bite of the Gold Bug: A Story of the Alaskan Gold Rush (Once Upon America)Dear America: Voyage On The Great TitanicDear America: The Winter of Red SnowDear America: A Journey to the New WorldDear America: The Fences Between UsDear America: A Picture of FreedomDear America: Cannons at DawnMy America: Our Strange New Land: Elizabeth's Jamestown Colony Diary, Book OneMy America: Freedom's Wings: Corey's Underground Railroad Diary, Book OneMy America: Westward To Home: Joshua's Oregon Trail Diary, Book OneMy America: The Starving Time: Elizabeth's Jamestown Colony Diary, Book TwoMy America: Home At Last, Sofia's Ellis Island Diary, Book TwoMy America: My Brother's Keeper: Virginia's Civil War Diary, Book OneMy America: Our Strange New Land,  Elizabeth's Jamestown Colony Diary, Book OneMy America: As Far As I Can See



Stories to Learn About Nature/Science

Again, just a sampling to get you started. 

We found ourselves completed engrossed in the Burgess Animal Book when my children were young.  (You can get this for FREE on Kindle.)

We also loved stories of famous scientists, legends having to do with nature, as well as any types of biographies about astronauts, scientists, etc....  

You name it, we generally had a story to go with it. We could also pick up a story at the library and begin learning from that - completely unaware of what we would learn at the outset.

I guess this is a bit of my "unschooling" nature coming out - much fun!

The Burgess Bird Book for Children (Dover Children's Classics)The Burgess Animal Book for Children (Dover Children's Classics)The Burgess Seashore Book for Children (Dover Children's Classics)The Little Burgess Bird BookThe Works of Thornton W. Burgess, Vol.3 (illustrated): Bowser The Hound, The Boy Scouts In A Trapper's Camp, The Burgess Animal Book For Children, The Burgess Bird Book For Children, Happy JackPaddle-to-the-Sea (Sandpiper Books)Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by WomenThe Story Book of Science (Yesterday's Classics)Child's Introduction to the Night Sky: The Story of the Stars, Planets, and Constellations--and How You Can Find Them in the SkyThe Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin (Amazing Scientists)The Legend of the Indian PaintbrushThe Legend of the BluebonnetWho Was Neil Armstrong?Alan Shepard: Higher and Faster (Heroes of History)Isaac Newton (Giants of Science)Newton's Rainbow: The Revolutionary Discoveries of a Young ScientistWho Was Isaac Newton? (Who Was?)



Stories to Learn about MATH

I can't tell you how much FUN these math stories were in our homeschool. I have one child who is very creative and story oriented. For her, learning certain concepts through a story just HAD to be done.

Enjoy these recommendations! 

Sir Cumference and the First Round Table (A Math Adventure)Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi (A Math Adventure)Sir Cumference and All the King's Tens: A Math AdventureSir Cumference and the Fracton Faire (A Math Adventures)Sir Cumference and the Roundabout BattleSir Cumference and the Great Knight of Angleland (A Math Adventure)Sir Cumference and the Sword in the ConeSir Cumference and the Isle of Immeter (Math Adventures)Sir Cumference and the Viking's Map (Charlesbridge Math Adventures (Paperback))Sir Cumference and the Off-the-Charts Dessert (Charlesbridge Math Adventures (Paperback))Sir Cumference Classroom ActivitiesMultiplying Menace: The Revenge of Rumpelstiltskin (A Math Adventure)What's Your Angle, Pythagoras?Math CurseA Hundred Billion Trillion StarsThe Adventures of Penrose the Mathematical Cat


Stories to Learn About PEOPLE

I believe some of the most memorable learning experiences have been when we I have shared biographies with my children... ESPECIALLY biographies of famous figures when THEY were children themselves. 

Again, just a few to get you started. These have been our favorites. 

Walt Disney: Young Movie Maker (Childhood of Famous Americans)Davy Crockett: Young Rifleman (Childhood of Famous Americans)Harry Houdini: Young Magician (Childhood of Famous Americans)Knute Rockne: Young Athlete (Childhood Of Famous Americans)Jackie Robinson: Young Sports Trailblazer (Childhood of Famous Americans)John Muir: Young Naturalist (Childhood of Famous Americans)Roberto Clemente: Young Ball Player (Childhood of Famous Americans)Ray Charles: Young Musician (Childhood of Famous Americans)Ludwig Beethoven and the Chiming Tower BellsSebastian Bach, The Boy from ThuringiaFrederic Chopin, Son of Poland, Early Years (Great Musicians)Mozart, The Wonder Boy (Great Musicians Series)The Story of Peter TchaikovskyAdventures of Richard WagnerKid Artists: True Tales of Childhood from Creative Legends (Kid Legends)Picasso and the Girl with a Ponytail (Anholt's Artists Books For Children)van Gogh and the Sunflowers (Anholt's Artists Books For Children)Frida Kahlo: The Artist who Painted Herself (Smart About Art)Beatrix Potter and Her Paint BoxGeorgia O'Keeffe: The Artist in the DesertWho Was Leonardo da Vinci?Who Was Frank Lloyd Wright?The Magical Garden of Claude Monet (Anholt's Artists Books For Children)Who Was Harry Houdini?The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky's Abstract ArtMatisse the King of Color (Anholt's Artists Books for Children)Leonardo and the Flying Boy (Anholt's Artists Books For Children)Christian Heroes Books 1-5 Gift Set (Christian Heroes: Then & Now) (Displays and Gift Sets)Paul Brand: Helping Hands (Christian Heroes: Then & Now)Paul Brand: The Shoes That Love Made (Trailblazers)William Wilberforce: The Freedom Fighter (Trailblazers)Amy Carmichael: Rescuer by Night (Trailblazers)100 Women Who Made History100 African-Americans Who Shaped American History (100 Series)Lightkeepers Boys Box Set: Ten BoysLightkeepers Girls Box Set: Ten Girls


Online Resources for Story in the Elementary & Middle Grade Years

Stories in the Elementary Homeschool

In addition to physical books, there are an abundance of online resources for stories. Many of these are podcasts (and if you haven't caught the podcasting bug -- I HAVE -- and it is my favorite way to consume content now!). 

A Facebook Live About the Power of Story

I recently did a Facebook Live about the power of story in your homeschool. I hope it can prove helpful and inspirational to you as you seek to incorporate more stories in your children's education.


Do you include story in your elementary children's lives?

I'd love to know your favorite stories to share!

St. Patrick | A Truth Story

Without any digging around on the interwebs, you might be led to believe that St. Patrick is merely a mythical creature who bestows candy and gold at the end of a rainbow. Do you see St. Patrick as a Santa Claus that comes at the beginning of Spring? Well, hold on to your Lucky Charms! We're about to discover the truth about the person behind St. Patrick. 

Story in our homeschools is such a powerful teaching tool!

A Story of Possession

Patrick, which was his name long before saint was placed in front of it, was not Irish by birth at all. He was probably Scottish. Can you imagine all of the St. Patrick's Day parades if St. Patrick was identified by his birth place rather than by the land he grew to love and represent? 

He was likely born to Roman parents who were pretty well-off, or so the story goes. Which always begs the question, "How in the world did he get taken into captivity?" But, he did. He was only 16 years old. And it was the Irish marauders who were his capturers. The rest of his story reminds me of the story of Joseph and his captivity into Egypt. Patrick's story became one of a God of Providence, and one where we see God with a bit of a sense of humor. 

St. Patrick  A Truth Story .png

Patrick was sold by the Irish mauraders to a Chieftain and tended the chieftain's flocks. During those long days, God got a hold of Patrick's heart. Patrick recounts in his memoirs, called Confessio, that "and His fear increased in me more and more, and the faith grew in me, and the spirit was roused, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred prayers, and in the night nearly the same, so that whilst in the woods and on the mountain, even before the dawn, I was roused to prayer and felt no hurt from it, whether there was snow or ice or rain; nor was there any slothfulness in me, such as I see now, because the spirit was then fervent within me."

We can surmise that Patrick must have heard the Gospel before his captivity, but in truth, he could have heard it after.  It's still the beginning of our story. 

A Story of Preparation

I hope I don't ruin your day by telling you, there's no such thing as coincidence. God is sovereign over every little detail. This includes Patrick's captivity, who he would serve, and what he would learn during that time. 

God has this habit of setting people apart for a time in order to prepare them for something big. Let that be an encouragement to you. Patrick could have laid down in the fields of his master and threw a pity party. He didn't. The Holy Spirit worked on him. As Patrick opened his heart to the Lord, God gave him what I believe to be a supernatural gift of language. 

In just six short months, he mastered the Celtic language. If you're likely a Roman by birth or Scottish, Celtic or Old Irish isn't the easiest thing to learn.

Modern-day missionaries go to language school for one-year minimum in order to learn a language. It then takes total immersion into a new culture to begin to master it. But, Patrick mastered the Celtic tongue in six months. God was preparing him in His own missionary school. 

A Story of Place

And as the order of Providence often goes, Patrick was also blessed by God with the gift of place. This is when the Lord puts you someplace for his purpose you wouldn't otherwise go. In Patrick's case, it was being placed as a servant or slave to a master who was a Druid priest. 

God equipped this man to be a missionary to a people of a foreign tongue, in a foreign land, with a foreign religion.  But, Patrick wasn't a saint yet. He escaped his master and headed towards a ship to carry him back to Britain. 

As the gifts and callings of God are irrevocable, so God would continue calling. And Patrick would eventually listen. 

A Story of Providence

Patrick would return to his homeland, but this time he was on a mission to serve God. As Providence would have it, God placed other missionaries in his path. A missionary, also known in Christian history as St. Germain, would help grow Patrick's understanding of service to the Kingdom of God. 

God would call Patrick back to Ireland. But, in the days of the early church, the Bishop had to recommend you to the Pope to begin your mission. While awaiting his commission to the Irish mission, Patrick studied the Scriptures and prepared himself continually.

Shortly before the Pope's death, he commissioned Patrick, named Ireland's apostle, to the land of Ireland. Now, all the preparation God had accomplished in Patrick beforehand would come full-circle. 

Patrick's Passion

In today's culture, we're often given recounts of Christianity that show our faith as one of warring conquest. But, the truth is, Christianity won the world over because it's a story of Truth. Patrick would share the Truth story with the pagan Druids, at great risk to his own life and those of his companions, because God had given him a mission of Peace. 

When the opportunity presented itself, Patrick stepped forth from obscurity to set a people free from superstition. 

Tradition and history tell us that Patrick defied an edict requiring all fires throughout the land to be extinguished until a signal blaze was given from the royal mansion. Patrick stepped forward at a place called Slane, and lit the Easter fire. Yes, that was the date, Easter in the West. 

Now, imagine with me for a moment you're the Royalty in this situation. You've given your word and expect it to be obeyed. And what do you see? Opposite your own mansion, a fire is lit. Curiosity probably quickly turned to rage. Who was this? Who did they think they were? 

If you're Patrick, your heart is probably beating out of your chest. You can hear your enemies swearing against you. They knew that if the fire wasn't extinguished, and Patrick along with it, their hold over the people would be lost. 

And though every attempt to extinguish the fire was made, it would not be put out. 

St. Patrick - a Truth Story

From Paganism to Peace

Patrick's time among the people of Ireland, teaching and discipling them in the Truth of the Christian faith would result in a mass conversion of the Irish people. It is said that by "faith and prayer" Patrick won over Ireland. Truly, his mission of peace, the Gospel of Peace, won over the people as it had won over Patrick years before. 

With openness to the Christian faith now available, the missionaries were able to reach more and more people. To understand the powerful effect Patrick and the missionaries had on the old superstitious ways, you'd have to understand their deep love of God and for the people of Ireland. 

This poem by Patrick, we'll now call Saint Patrick, can give you a glimpse of the man himself, Ireland's Apostle. 

Patrick's Prayer

The beautiful prayer of St. Patrick —


Christ shield me today
Against wounding
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through the mighty strength
Of the Lord of creation.



St. Patrick's Day Notebooking Pages


Ideas to put into practice based on the story:

  • Notebook about Patrick and other famous people from Church history.
  • Read the story aloud. Identify new people, places, languages, and ideas and make a list. You can create a research paper from very basic to detailed.
  • Create a timeline of events for Patrick. Create a bigger timeline for Church history and place Patrick's lifetime within that timeline. 
  • Look up the type of government that changed for the Irish people with the advent of Christianity. Ireland is also known as the world's first republic. Discuss why this might be.
  • Have a Saint Patrick's Day that honors his work. Instead of dressing up in green and pinching those who aren't, think of ways you can use the gifts and callings God has placed on your own life to further the spread of the Gospel.