March 17 is coming, here are our favorite St Patrick’s Day crafts & activities to try at home (and a little bit outside)! My girls haven’t forgotten to wear something green to wear because if they don’t, they might get pinched. In San Francisco, St. Patrick’s Day is an extremely popular family festival that everybody celebrates regardless of their Irishness because it’s cool to be green.
Shamrocks, leprechauns, pots of gold – what’s not to love?
Try these St. Patrick’s Day recipe and activities at home and if like us you want to enjoy St Patrick’s Day longer, spread them out over the whole week. Nobody need know.
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On St Patrick’s Day, Watch a Movie set in Ireland
- Darby O’Gill And The Little People.Every year we borrow this 1959 movie from the library. In it, “A wily old codger matches wits with the king of the leprechauns and helps play matchmaker for his daughter and the strapping lad who has replaced him as caretaker.” And guess who the strapping lad is? Sean Connery at age 29 when he was indeed very strapping and who speaks with the thickest accent ever. The movie is a bit dark for very young kids, but we started watching it when my girls were 3 and 5. I guess it works for that age group. My girls love the scenes in the leprechaun cave. I love the quaintness of it all. It’s great fun for the whole family!
- The Secret of Kells: This jewel of animation is a the story of a 12-year old boy in Ireland who decides he wants to become an illuminator in a monastery, despite the opposition of his uncle the abott. Ensues a fierce viking invasion, a silver-haired fairy who lives in the woods, and wonderful scenes of hand-drawn illuminations bringing a story to life on an ancient book. Now, the interesting part is that the Book of Kells is a real historical book that was created around the 6th to 9th centuries and is considered Ireland’s finest national treasure. You can view it in Dublin. How it was created, nobody knows for sure, so all the more power to an imaginative story.
- Song of the Sea. A wonderful Irish animated movie, Song of the Sea follows Saoirse, the last Selkie, who escapes from home to help free mythical creatures trapped in the modern world. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.
Bake Irish Soda Bread
Irish soda bread is easy to make at home and this recipe’s a winner. My girls asked for more when they had finished their plate. I looked long and hard for a recipe that involved neither sugar nor raisins, so I could serve this soda bread with hot soup. Finally, I found a recipe on epicurious that’s as simple as it gets. Here goes.
- 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons caraway seeds (optional)
- 1 teaspoon baking-soda
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups (about) buttermilk (I actually used close to 2 1/2 cups)
- Just mix everything. Divide into individual round loaves or shape a big one. I made a small loaf for each girl and we cut a cross in the middle. For mine, I used caraway seeds. The cross apparently helps the bread cook more evenly.
- Place your soda bread in a dish that you can cover for the first 30 minutes. It’ll help the dough rise without drying out. I didn’t have deep enough dishes so I inverted a cake mold on a baking sheet where I placed the soda bread.
- Bake in oven preheated at 425F. For the first 30 minutes, covered. Uncovered for 15 minutes.
- Eat hot out of the even slathered with butter. Or – reheat it at dinner time or breakfast in a toaster and butter up!
Read Irish Stories for St Patrick’s Day
As can be expected, traditional Irish stories have the charm of old Europe. In them, you’ll find giants and fairies, glenns and leprechauns, farmers and animals, and always the presence of the ocean or a lake. Plus, Irish names are impossible to pronounce and it makes up half the fun of a good book. When I tried to pronounce “Oisin in Tir na nOg,” it was too challenging for my French self. Luckily for people like me, some of these books come with the audio version in CDs.
- Tales from Old Ireland PB w CD. Written by Malachy Doyle, illustrated by Niamh Sharkey. This beautiful collection of tales has my girls asking me to read a new one night after night. Between the intriguing story of a merman storing souls from shipwrecks in cages under the sea, the heart-breaking story of the children of Lir transformed into swans and exiled to rough seas by their evil stepmother, or the feel-good tale of Lusmore the humpback whose song charms the fairies, we don’t know which one we prefer. Once I’ ve read the story, my girls like to listen to the audio version on the CD. They probably get a better Irish accent that way :) Now, just a word of age warning. These tales do not all have happy endings or even display a typical Disney moral. Some of them are 5th century tales recorded by monks who’ve transcribed them and protected them from viking invaders. They feel authentic and that what I like about them. They are not watered down. My girls are 6 and 8 and both enjoy them very much.
- Fin M’Coul: The Giant of Knockmany Hill. Written and illustrated by Tomie de Paola. Wickedly funny, this is one of many popular stories starring Fin M’Coul, an Irish giant best known for the Giant’s Causeway, the highway he built between Ireland and Scotland. In this book, Tomie de Paola tells the encounter between a fierce (but dumb) giant named Culcullin and Fin and his wife at Knockmany Hill. Let kids learn that wits can win over physical strength – no to big bully giants!
Hope you all enjoy a merrily green St. Patrick’s Day. I’ll raise a beer to that!
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Laure is an author, environmental advocate, blogger, open water swimmer and now mother. She's passionate about inspiring families to enjoy the outdoors with their children, learning to unplug and living a healthy lifestyle, giving kids life skills and exploring the world around us sharing Family Friendly, Fun Ideas for the whole family on Frog Mom.