Silly & Serious St Patrick’s Day Activities for Families

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Want to celebrate a little St. Patrick’s Day fun? Enjoy one or more of these silly and serious St Patrick’s Day activities with the fam.

box of lucky charms with a potted plant nearby.

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Saint Patrick’s Day is coming up. My kids love having something to celebrate. And even though we’re not Irish, we have a great affection for Patrick, as a fellow saint, who loved God and wanted to share His goodness with the people of the Emerald Isle.

Years ago I started reading up on Saint Patrick and was really impressed that there was more to the holiday than green beer and leprechauns, though they may be fun and all.

(Well, not the green beer part. Hand me a Guinness.)

The kids and I took an Irish Film class one year through Brave Writer, and it was so interesting to learn more about the people and culture of Ireland. There’s such a richness of stories and traditions!

We really loved The Secret of Kells and The Song of the Sea.

We have not yet made it to Ireland in our travels, but we will!

Not having been to Ireland yet, I have no idea what all is done for St. Patrick’s Day there, though I have heard that we Americans make a bigger deal out of it. Californians I’m sure are more laid back that in other places, too. (My friend Gale who was born and bred in Northern Ireland rolls her eyes over the leprechaun traps and Lucky Charms.)

And I’ll be honest, some of our Americanized celebrations are goofy, but kids love goofy!

I’ve collected a mixture of goofy and authentic here in terms of St. Patrick’s Day crafts and recipes you can do with your kids.

Here’s a fun list things you can do with your kids for Saint Patrick’s Day:

image of green tie dye fabric.

Tie Dye Shirts — in green, of course!

You know from your own childhood how fun the wearing of the green can be. Have a little craft party and tie dye tshirts in green.

Just make sure you wear rubber gloves or you’ll be wearing more than a green shirt on March 17th!

two iPads with ireland book covers showing on the front.

Read a chapter book about Patrick.

This book is one of our favorite read alouds – it’s currently super cheap on Amazon.

I borrowed it from a friend for the first few years of homeschooling and then ended up buying a copy to keep for ourselves. It tells the tale of young Patrick’s kidnapping, his subsequent conversion to Christianity, and how he shared the gospel with the very people who’d enslaved him.

We started a reread of it this week.

A book for older folks is How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill. Patrick brought Christianity to Ireland which in turn produced monasteries which in turn produced scribes who copied and preserved ancient texts.

Due to its distance from the European continent (and the barbarians duking it out after the fall of Rome), Ireland and its monasteries were largely protected from marauders and so was the history of the western world.

a bowl of irish stew with a loaf of soda bread and a glass of guinness in the background.

Share an Irish Dinner

Typically, I make something Irish or Irish-inspired for Saint Patrick’s Day dinner.

Often this has been Irish Stew or this Guinness Stew. It’s easy enough that the kids can help load the slow cooker and then the crockpot does the rest of the work. It’s homey, comforting food.

For the last few years, I’ve made my very favorite Shepherd’s Pie. Patrick was a Shepherd, after all!

This year, however, now that I’m moving to a Mediterranean Diet, I’m making bangers and mash. I’ve got turkey sausages in the freezer that I bought on clearance. I’ll make a sauté of mushrooms, onions, and cabbage as well as a big batch of mashed potatoes (made with olive oil instead of butter). Maybe not the most authentic, but still Irish-inspired and a little more healthful than my norm.

a celtic cross on a hill with the sunrise behind it.

Talk about the meaning behind St Patrick’s Day.

Whether you observe saint days or not, I think it’s good to know the meaning behind any “holiday” we recognize. I was so surprised as an adult to realize that this day had something deeper than leprechauns behind it.

Again, this could be reading a chapter book as mentioned before or perhaps watching a documentary. This one looks interesting.

bag of shamrock potato chips.

Enjoy a silly treat.

That said, I still think it’s cool to make green stuff or find novelty foods. This week I found shamrock-flavored potato chips at ALDI! How cool is that? I didn’t buy them because $4?! But still thought it was cool.

This popcorn recipe looks easy enough and I love it that the popcorn kernel shapes are reminiscent of shamrock shapes. Last year I made rice krispie treats with Lucky Charms marshmallows.

This year, I bough the kids a box of Lucky Charms. Oh yes, I did.

screenshot of irish pinterest board.

Try out some new crafts and recipes.

The age of Pinterest, is returning, did you hear? Check out my board of St Patrick’s Day crafts, recipes, and activities. There are so many cool things you could do.

Or simply do a collage of green things that you and your kids find in old magazines. Simple works just as well as complex.

irish soda bread sliced on a tray with a dish of butter, a plate with a buttered slice is nearby.

Bake a loaf of Irish Soda Bread.

Soda bread is easy to make and delicious when served warm with butter or a slice of Dubliner cheese. It’s so simple to make, your kids can do it on their own!

My version with whole wheat flour is more like an Irish Brown Bread, but it’s still yummy!

apple crisp with dishes of apples and whipped cream nearby.

Enjoy an apple dessert.

Apples are an integral part of Irish culture. In fact, it used to be that if a tenant planted apple trees on the property he was renting, when he moved the landlord had to compensate him for improving the property.

Make a large Slab Apple Pie, a traditional round pie, or a simpler apple crisp together.

Hopefully this mix of silly and serious activities for St. Patrick’s Day will inspire you to enjoy some fun with your family this year. Thanks for sharing this post with friends!

What works for you?

Leave a comment below and let us know what works for you.

* This post was originally published on March 12, 2011. It has been updated for content and clarity.

collage of silly and serious st patricks day activities for the family.

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  1. Thanks for all of the ideas Jessica! Irish Soda Bread is one of my favorites! Our library gives us access to hoopla – and the audio version of Saint Patrick is there – hooray! We’ll also be making the green popcorn. =) Thanks for being an awesome resource!

      1. Yep – looks like it! And since I can’t get my hands on a copy of the book before Thursday, I’m thankful for the audio version!

        1. Fun! I should add that some of the vocabulary and syntax is a little off. I found myself editing as I read because I got so tired of reading “the humbled youth” or “the embarassed teenager”. The writing style grated a little this last reading through.

          1. I wondered if there would be somewhat of an issue with the vocabulary/syntax… That’s why I’m happy to not have to read and just listen! *grin*

  2. We were planning on Irish Stew and green ice cream but I didn’t know that about apples in Ireland. Now I HAVE to make apple crisp- my favorite! 🙂

  3. Celebrate my daughter Sara’ 5 th birthday.
    (and no we did not consider naming her Patsy, Pat or Patty)

  4. My boys and I made the soda bread tonight and it was fantastic. Thank you for the recipe. Tried one loaf with coconut oil ‘just to see’ and it was really about the same as the one with the canola oil.

  5. My kids love celebrating all holidays (including Groundhog’s Day). However, I am always lacking in the Mommy of the year department :/ I’m going to take a few of these ideas tho and run with them. Also for breakfast I’m thinking of Ihop’s green eggs and ham commercial (for Dr. Seuss) I think we’ll do something similar.

  6. A few years ago we started having a “Green Feast.” My almost 3 year old was born on St. Patrick’s Day so it doubles as his birthday party. We have as many naturally green foods as possible (it’s a great way to encourage kids to eat fruits and vegetables!!) My kids are already excitedly planning this year’s feast. Some foods we’ve had in the past and are planning to have again are: green peppers and cucumbers with guacamole and spinach hummus for dipping, a fruit tray with green pears, green apples, green grapes, kiwi and honeydew, sautéed zucchini, sautéed spinach, grilled asparagus, and pasta with spinach pesto.

  7. I love reading on other blogs what everyone else does for St Patricks Day, but here we don’t actually do that much!

    The kids don’t even have the day off school, they don’t wear green, we don’t have “visitors” playing tricks and no-one gets pinched!

    In fact, we don’t eat corned beef either!!!

    Your bread and stew look very tasty.

    However, I DO wish you a very happy St Patricks Day from my blog to yours 🙂

    1. @Debbie, totally dig the box of LC. I don’t buy cereal, but I did this week. 🙂 Thanks for the inspiration!

  8. i put a little green food coloring in the toilets!! I also use it in some of the foods we eat that day..