The idea arose because St Patrick's Day was approaching - normally something I didn't pay any attention to, but I had recently read information about his important contribution to history, and thought "Hey, he'd be worth learning about!" Plus, I have an Irish great-grandfather, so my children have some Irish heritage, and this meant a perfect opportunity to teach them about Ireland, some family history, and St Patrick, and with St Patrick's Day coming up, this gave us a timeframe - some learning activities over 3 or so weeks, culminating in a celebration on St Patrick's Day. Because this was all rather spur of the moment, I brainstormed a quick list of ideas and activities, and then we just rolled with it. My kids each completed their own lapbook. The pictures are from one I did at the same time for myself, as a keepsake, and so I could share it with others too. This unit was so much fun!
- Learning about our family tree and Irish history
- Learning about some symbols of Ireland
- Learning about the life of St Patrick
- Learning about the country of Ireland
- Planning a celebration, and doing arts/crafts etc
- Having fun!
I found an old picture of my great grandparents, and photocopied it, reduced to fit on a flap. I added info about who they were, when they were born and the relationship to me (my kids had modified versions, with the relationship to them).
We created a family tree using a free geneology programme, and printed it out, sticking it inside a simple book (folded piece of coloured paper) with a family tree picture stuck on the outside.
I asked my great-aunt, who was still alive, if she could tell us any interesting stories about her father for our study. I'm so glad I did this, or I never would have heard this one! Don't miss the opportunity to ask older family members about the things they know and about family stories. This story was about my great-grandad when he was a lad in Ireland:
"When James was 14, a friend of his father died. James was finally considered old enough to attend a wake (funeral) with his Dad. James was very proud to go, all dressed up in his best clothes and a nice jacket. But he was the only young person there, and all the older men were sitting around drinking, smoking and talking about their dead friend. James was bored.
He noticed that there was a strap around the body of the dead man in the coffin, and began to wonder what it was for. As usual, James had his trusty penknife in his pocket, so he pulled it out and nicked the strap, wanting to see what would happen...
The strap gave way, and the dead man sat bolt upright in his coffin! All the people thought he had come back to life, and ran away very fast. James led the pack, leaping over fences to get away! It turned out that the poor man was a hunchback, and the strap had been to hold him flat in the coffin. When James cut it, his body jerked upright. He wasn't allowed to go to any more funerals for quite some time...
Poor James - and he'd been SO proud to be at his first wake."
We typed the story out, and printed it on coloured paper, folded it to place in the lapbook, with a title cover glued to the outside.
Symbols of Ireland
Using library resources and the internet, we learned about four common symbols of Ireland - the Shamrock, the harp, the Celtic Cross, and the colour green, and made simple booklets about each, with a picture on the front, imformation inside, and a folding flap to one side to hold the booklet closed (made it easier to shut the lapbook flap without crushing things).
Life of St Patrick
We watched a movie about St Patrick, and also read library books etc. We recorded information about the various stages of his life, using folded pieces of paper with info inside, and titles on the covers, mounted in a circle around a print out of a famous stained glass window featuring St Patrick
There was a little room on the bottom of the centre sectiong of the lapbook, so we added info about the flags of England, Ireland and Scotland, as well as St Patrick, and how together they form the Union Jack.
We used the library and internet to learn about both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. I printed off some resources to use to record key facts - these were taken from a Country Study lapbook kit from Knowledge Box Central. We learned about the flags, languages, climate, currency, land areas, populations, religions, capitals etc. By doing this for both parts of Ireland then mounting them how we did in the lapbook, it makes it easy to compare them. We added a world map for location, as well as a map of Ireland, and information on neighbouring countries.
We also did lots of other activities throughout the study, and had a final celebration dinner. These included:
- Visiting the op-shop, where the kids picked out green clothes to dress up in for our dinner. A couple of the kids from next door (also homeschoolers) joined us for this.
- Made napkins by cutting up a tablecloth from the op shop, hemming it, then cross-stitching shamrocks on a corner. We made paper napkin rings with a shamrock design.
- We hung "Happy St Patrick's Day" banner and shamrocks on the wall.
- On the day of our celebration, we see the table with a tablecloth with green in it, our napkins and other decorations. We coloured some lemonade green to drink, and the kids (including neighbours) played games and had lime popsicles. We watched the St Patrick movie together, and had a "traditional" dinner of corned beef, carrots, cabbage, mashed potatoes and horseradish cream. Desert was lime jelly and icecream, and our drinks green lemonade and lime juice. We typed up the menu to add to our lapbook, along with lots of photos of the kids and what we did.
- We also cut out stamps from potatoes, in the shapes of shamrocks and crosses, and the kids used these stamps with green paint to make decorative covers for their lapbooks.
- We used scissors that cut wavy patterns to cut out borders for the lapbook, and made title sections using two layers of wavy-cut paper - green behind and white on top with the titles added.
- The front and back covers of the lapbooks were a great place to add lots of photos, and we also memorised and wrote out an Irish blessing to put on the back cover.
May the road rise to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face
The rains fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again
May God hold you in the palm of His hand!