Maybe at some point in our youth we wondered, 'Is there really a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?' Although pots of gold are hard to come by these days, we can offer our ESL students a lesson that is as good as gold: a St. Patrick's Day lesson that teaches them a great deal about this popular holiday and gives them a chance to improve their language skills.
Here are some suggestions for activities. Use some, or use all, but make sure you give your class a taste of what St. Paddy's Day is all about.
Creative St. Patrick's Day Activities
It's so easy being green!
It is customary to wear green on St. Patrick's Day, so ask your students to wear something green to class. If they don't have green shirts, they can wear green hats, belts, sweaters, or any accessory or item. Don't forget to do the same and decorate the classroom with green streamers, shamrocks, leprechauns, posters, etc. While some of your students might be familiar with the holiday, others might not be aware of the symbolism of many aspects of the day. Depending on the ability level of your students, introduce flashcards with images and vocabulary that you can refer back to throughout your lesson.
From slave to saint
St. Patrick's story is a fascinating tale, one that your students will surely enjoy. Give your students a presentation on St. Patrick's Day where they will learn about not only the life of the patron saint of Ireland, but also some interesting facts about the country and information about Irish symbols and leprechauns. It also comes with a multiple choice quiz at the end so you can sound out your students' comprehension.
"Put silk on a goat and it is still a goat"
One of the things that Irish mammies do best is give sound advice - or at least their idea of what sound advice is. The above is an old Irish saying - but what does it mean? Ask your students to put on their thinking caps and figure it out. Then, give them more from this list of witty Irish sayings to think about. This is a great activity for adult students who may have similar sayings in their own language and is a fun exercise in cultural exchange.
Catch a Leprechaun
A fun and imagination filled past-time of St. Patrick's day beloved by children is being given the chance to catch a Leprechaun. For a creative lesson, give your yound students a chance to build their own Leprechaun trap and hopefully sieze his pot of gold! (you can buy chocolate coins covered in gold foil as a tasty reward). Depending on how long their class is, your students can first color and construct their own Leprechaun Marionette. Depending on where you want to take the lesson, the students can create their own little show in which they explain how they will succeed, or they can create a drawing with an explanation of how they will catch the mischevious little green fella.
When Irish eyes are smiling!
Hand out copies of the lyrics to When Irish Eyes Are Smiling. Listen with your class and discuss: what is the song saying about the Irish? What feelings are evoked in the song? Or choose any from the list available at IrishSongs.com.
The gift of gab
This is a great St. Patrick's Day activity for advanced students. You'll need to prepare three things: a bag containing your student's names in slips of paper, cards that prompt students to convince someone of something, and a small rock.
The cards may say something like:
- Convince your mother to let you stay out late on a school night.
- Convince your father to let you borrow the car for a weekend trip to the beach with your friends.
- Present to your teacher a very convincing excuse for not doing your homework.
Show your students the rock and tell them you have managed to procure a piece of the famous Blarney Stone. Tell them the fascinating story of the stone that is located in the battlements of Blarney Castle - whoever kisses it, is bestowed with the gift of gab, in other words, great eloquence when it comes to flattery and coaxing. Next, tell them you have put their names in a bag, and as you draw a name from the bag, the student must kiss the stone, then draw a card from the pile. They must do as the card indicates and act out the role play with another student. Finally, the class votes on who indeed received 'the gift of gab' and was the most convincing.
Find the pot of gold
Your students may think they'll find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but they're wrong. They'll find one at the end of this St. Patrick’s Day board game! Students are asked to match some pictures with some words related to St Patrick’s Day, find some other words in the wordsearch, and complete the text about this holiday. Ask them to explain a new vocabulary word, or answer a question about St. Patrick; give them a sentence in present that they have to switch to the past tense - or future.
If time allows, and depending on your students' ages and level, combine several of these activities or adapt them to suit your needs. Whether you sing Irish songs and dance a jig, or simply discuss the various Irish symbols, myths and legends, teach your students that being green is fun - the Irish way! And if you need more classroom resources or ideas, check out our dedicated St. Patrick's Day Library!
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