Saint Patrick’s Day on March 17th is a holiday celebrated around the world.
Although it was originally created as a religious holiday, it has evolved into more of a celebration of Irish culture. People today still recognize its religious importance; however, that is no longer seen as the most significant aspect of this day. Some cities get into the festive spirit by having parades and Chicago even dyes the Chicago River green; meanwhile, people celebrate by drinking Irish beer, eating corned beef, and wearing green clothing. Saint Patrick’s Day has spread so much that many countries around the world, especially those with large Irish populations, now organize special events. If you have time, consider dedicating a lesson or part of a lesson to this topic. Focusing on age appropriate material will ensure that everyone enjoys the lesson.
Teach St. Patrick’s Day Lesson The ‘Irish’ Way
Starting Your St. Patrick’s Day Lesson
Many students may not know about this holiday so try to elicit material from students to give you an idea of what you should cover in your introduction. Telling students things they already know will bore them and after you lose their attention, it could be challenging to get it back. Your introduction as well as the activities you choose to use will depend a lot on the level of your students and what they are interested in. Try to keep your introduction short while providing students with the information they will need to complete the exercises you have planned. If there is a lot of material, use it as a reading activity to get the students more involved.
Choose Your Activities Carefully
With younger students, consider St. Patrick’s Day flashcards (see our article titled ‘How To Use Printable Flashcards For Teaching ESL’) to introduce related vocabulary. If you have a small class, consider allowing students to color images (see BusyTeacher’s coloring pages collection) and present vocabulary words to the class. Find or create a short, simple story for your class. Fairytales are popular with young students and allow them to use their imaginations so include something about a leprechaun (see our Leprechaun Marionette worksheet, for example ) to tie it in with the Saint Paddy’s day theme. Perhaps your students can even create a story of their own (and maybe write one – here’s a great St. Patrick’s writing lesson plan for that).
Flashcards or slideshows can help you introduce and practice new words with beginners. If you are not in a class with young learners, be sure to provide students with some reading and writing practice as well. It is important to include a variety of exercises in every lesson. You can practice vocabulary, tell students some information about the holiday, and ask some comprehension questions to start off with. If possible practice structures that students have been working on to give them further practice while relating everything to the holiday.
You will need to introduce less vocabulary with classes of intermediate and advanced learners. Intermediate students would do well listening to or reading an article or story and answering comprehension questions while advanced learners would get more out of answering discussion questions. If St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in the country you are in, have students talk about their past experiences celebrating it. Perhaps students have traditions of their own.
With all groups, simple activities such as word searches, crosswords, or double puzzles with scrambled words and a scrambled secret message can be lots of fun especially if you finish your planned activities early or for students who finish tasks faster than others. You could even give out extra credit points for students who complete the sheets in class or as homework. Don’t forget to check out BusyTeacher’s collection of free St. Patrick’s Day worksheets, lesson plans, lesson ideas and word searches! Also, feel free to generate your own word search using our new Word Search Creator.
Ending Your St. Patrick’s Day Lesson
At the end of class it is important to review the new material you have covered. Ask students to give you a summary to see what they have retained and be sure to prompt them for anything that you feel has been left out. Students might not see some of this material again but making the lesson memorable will ensure that they retain it longer.
Saint Patrick’s Day may not be the most important holiday of the year but it makes for a good theme and a fun cultural lesson. As with any holiday, if your schedule does not allow you to devote an entire class period to the topic, you can always just use it as a theme for your lesson instead. This is a good compromise between a cultural and ignoring the holiday altogether.
Do you have any successful St. Patrick’s Day lesson ideas of your own? Please share them in the comments below!
Tara has worked with English Language Learners of all ages for many years and has taught in Japan, Cambodia, and China as well as online. When she is not teaching, she enjoys cooking, traveling around the world, and scuba diving. She is a member of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi and is currently pursuing an M.A. in Teaching-TESOL at the University of Southern California.
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