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St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner, and there are more ways to celebrate than by just wearing green and shamrocks! For English Language Arts teachers, St Patrick’s Day presents the perfect opportunity for building classroom community while developing students’ ELA skills at the same time. Here are 4 holiday activities you can use in your ELA classroom this year.
Despite the fact that St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated all around the world, many of us know relatively little about the history of this holiday. For example, did you know that the first St. Patrick’s Day parade occurred when Irish soldiers in the British army marched through New York City on March 17, 1762?
I love to use this time of year to introduce students to St. Patrick’s Day history. You can teach them the significance of the symbols we see around this time of year, such as the shamrock, the four-leaf clover, the Celtic cross, and the leprechaun. You can also explain some of the traditions, like how the Chicago River has been dyed green in celebration of the holiday every year since 1962.
After giving an introduction on St. Patrick’s Day history, I then provide writing prompts related to the history they’ve just learned, and I get them to write their responses on journal response sheets. Here is a couple of writing prompts you might use:
Saint Patrick’s Day is also the perfect time to cover common literary devices used in poetry and fiction. Develop your students’ understanding of metaphor, simile, onomatopoeia, oxymoron, personification, and alliteration with St. Patrick’s Day figurative language examples.
For this activity, you can put together various St. Patrick’s Day-related sentences that each employ one of the common literary devices mentioned above. Your students will need to identify which type of figurative language is being used on the line beside each sentence. I like to make this a competition where students can work in pairs and the first three pairs to get all sentences labeled receive a gold chocolate coin.
Here are a few St. Patrick’s Day figurative language examples you can use with your class:
Have students assume the roles of leading experts on leprechauns and use instructional writing to share the best way to catch a leprechaun. Students will write a manual for the group tasked with catching leprechauns wreaking havoc on a local community.
You can start by telling students that have been contacted by the local government. Explain that they have to put together a team to tackle the issue head-on. First, however, they must use their expert knowledge on the subject to create an instruction manual to distribute to their task force so that they will be ready for the challenge.
Below are the topics that I have my students cover in their manuals on how to catch a leprechaun. I like to get students to organize each of them as distinct chapters, numbered as such:
I also like to provide students with the grading rubric I use to assess their writing before they begin to let them know exactly what is expected. I focus on the conventions of writing, content, and organization.
Bring in a St Patrick’s Day-inspired ELA classroom game. Using a St. Patrick’s Day trivia game is a fantastic way to not only build classroom community this March 17 but also to learn more about the holiday. Students will be competing to be named the St. Patrick’s Day expert by correctly answering 10 trivia questions related to the holiday. Here’s how it works.
You will start by giving each student a St. Patrick’s Day trivia card. This is where students will track their answers to the ten questions. For each question, students will be shown four possible answers in multiple-choice format—with only one of them being correct. For each correct answer, students will move up the ladder shown on the right-hand side of each trivia card which ranges from “Piece of cake!” to “Expert” status.
Students will track their own individual scores, and then whoever has the most correct answers at the end wins and is given a cheesy St. Patrick’s Day expert winners certificate. You might choose to put the students into teams instead and have them come up to the front of the room and play against each other one on one.
I hope you have fun with these engaging St Patrick’s Day activities in your ELA classroom this year. You can grab a ready-to-use bundle with all of the resources and more by clicking the image below.
For more classroom community-building tips and resources, click here.
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