St. Patrick’s Day (March 17) is a national holiday in Ireland but has enjoyed increasing popularity in the United States. People in the United States use this holiday as an opportunity to wear green, decorate with shamrocks and leprechauns and as a celebration of Irish and Irish American Culture. Often the celebrations involve traditional Irish food or American foods that have been tinted green for the occasion.
St. Patrick’s Day is a fantastic opportunity to study Ireland in your classroom. The Big Universe title, Ireland is a nonfiction book that allows students to explore many different aspects of the country: land, peat bogs, wildlife, people, daily life, school, work, play, food, holidays, arts and fast facts.This book is a Level 5 in the Blastoff! Readers series, so it has quite a bit of text per page and encourages students to read to learn rather than learn to read.
The large, colorful photos are helpful to capture the students’ interest and inspire them to want to work through the harder text. In addition, most pages include “Did You Know?” or “Fun Facts” sections that help students find additional points of interest on each page.
St. Patrick’s Day Lesson Plan based on the book Ireland:
Pre-Lesson (teacher prep):
- Create a worksheet containing 8 to 15 true or false statements from the text. For example:
- Ireland is nicknamed the “Emerald Isle” because it is known for its emerald mines.
- The shamrock is a plant that grows in Ireland. It is a symbol of Ireland.
- The Catholic church runs most of Ireland’s schools.
- Hand out the worksheet of statements and have students decide if they agree or disagree with each statement. Give them space to explain why they agree or disagree.
- Have students work in pairs to discuss the statements on the worksheet. Encourage them to decide if the statements are true or false.
- Have the pairs take turns sharing their answers with the class. (Work your way around the room and have each pair share their ideas about one of the statements. Do this until all of the statements have been discussed.)
- Have the students individually read the Big Universe text, Ireland. While they are reading, encourage them to think about the statements previously discussed. Have them keep track of the page number(s) that support or refute each statement. For example:
- Ireland is nicknamed the “Emerald Isle” because it is known for its emerald mines. Pg. 6
- The shamrock is a plant that grows in Ireland. It is a symbol of Ireland. Pg. 11
- The Catholic church runs most of Ireland’s schools. Pg. 16
Have the class discuss how they did deciding which statements were true and which statements were false. Ask them to consider what learning occurred between the initial class discussion and the reading of the text.
Extended Lesson Ideas:
- Do a Social Studies lesson on the country of Ireland. Use this book to discuss the people, topography of the land, main product exports and daily life in Ireland.
- Use the Fun Facts sections to perform small projects with the class. For example, using the first Fun Fact, “No place in Ireland is more than 70 miles from the ocean!” you could have students take a map of the United States and draw a line indicating which places in the United States are more than 70 miles from the ocean.
- Have students pick one section of the book (land, peat bogs, wildlife, etc.) to study more in depth. This could be done as part of a personalized learning opportunity or as a group project.
At Big Universe we love to get your input…how are you studying Ireland and St. Patrick’s Day in your classroom / school? Share your ideas below!