Friday, March 7, 2014

Does the Leprechaun Visit Your Classroom?

Top of the Morning!  This is Sue Lynch@TpT and I don’t know about where you live, but in the suburbs of Chicago we have endured a LONG and CRAZY winter!  March has definitely come in like a LION and I am hoping the ‘lamb’ shows up soon!  

I love St. Patrick's Day and all it's festivities!  Every year, I gear up for a 'surprise' Leprechaun visit!  Starting on the first day of March, I start integrating activities throughout the curriculum which always gets the kids excited. I know that sometimes I go overboard, but it's all for the kids!  I just pulled out my 'stash' that was left over from last year.  It's not much and it looks like I will be heading to the Dollar Store this weekend!

How do I use these items and what items are a must for a successful “leprechaun visit?”  First of all, I love hats!  I use hats throughout the year as not only a learning tool, but also a management tool.  My kids can wear (earn) a hat for various reasons such as good behavior, a wonderful idea, awesome work, etc.  I have a hat for almost every month!  This month is my “Lucky Leprechaun” hat!  I also have a shamrock headband that I let students wear (mostly girls choose it).  Also pictured is confetti, glitter, gold coins, mini pots, mini leprechaun hats, blowers and anything else I can find!  These items are scattered and slightly hidden throughout the classroom (before the students arrive!) on St. Patrick’s Day. You can go all out or just make a 'little Leprechaun mess.'  My favorite is the ‘glitter’ shoe prints that I strategically place throughout the classroom.  You can see an example in the picture above.  To do this, make a template with construction paper or cardboard. Place the template flat on the floor (works best on low carpet, not tile) and shake glitter inside the template.  The glitter is easily vacuumed up (by me) at the end of the day.  It’s amazing how the students don’t step on the ‘magic shoes’ of the leprechaun.  I only put a few in the room and not in high traffic areas.  The kids are amazed by the 'mess the leprechaun made' and for each item they find and/or see, they discuss with their thoughts, ideas and even ask questions.  It’s a wonderful beginning of our day as they are engaged in sharing, writing, exploring and even answering questions that their peers have (which gets me out of trouble!)

But--before the actual 'leprechaun visit,' I have my students participate in one fun activity to add to the excitement! The day before the event. I give my students a styrofoam cup.  I tell them to color the cup because on St. Patrick's Day , I will fill their cup with coins for positive behavior.  I don't give them any clue that the cup is a trap or hopes for a leprechaun visit as I have my own idea for a surprise! Your students think they are decorating for an incentive, but in reality their cup is going to become part of the 'leprechaun visit!'  You are going to take the cups and turn them into mini leprechaun hats!  Here's what you need to do:

Materials Needed:  Styrofoam cups (one for each student) and permanent sharpie markers.  Crayola markers do work, they just tend to smear a bit. 

Directions:  Have the students decorate a cup.  Again, I tell them that the cup will be used as an incentive to earn 'gold coins' for good behavior, work, etc.  Make sure that the students do NOT puncture holes in the cups.  Don't forget to mark the cup with each child's name or initials.  I usually do this right on the top. 

After school, gather the cups.  Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.  Always TEST a few cups (not belonging to kids) to make sure that the oven is working it's magic.  I have found that ovens heat differently.  I know my home oven only needs to be set at 200 degrees in order for the cups to shrink properly.  Again, testing cups before your student cups is worth it!

Hints for shrinking the cups:  Once you have tested some cups and you feel the heat is appropriate, put about 6 cups on the tray.  Put the tray of cups in the oven, turn on the light and shut the oven door.  Do not open the door until the cups are ready!  Allowing air to get in may change the shape of the cups.  If the temperature is right, the cups will shrink quickly! This should only take 15-30 seconds when/if the oven's temperature is right!

You will be amazed by all the little leprechaun hats!  If you're lucky, you may even get a few sombreros!  :)  Each hat is unique and believe me your students will be amazed and just love them! Now, put each hat on your student's desks.  I always put a little confetti and a gold coin (or two) with the hats.  When the kids come in and see 'the mess that the leprechaun made' they won't believe their hats!  How did the leprechaun do it?  Magic!  This will start a day of fun.  I love hearing the excitement, the reasons, the explanations, etc.  The writing center is always busy on St. Patrick's Day!

Here is a March Freebie that you can use on St. Patrick's Day!  Included in the March Freebie are mini bookmarks you can leave from the leprechaun, 'Gold Coins' that you can use as incentives on St. Patrick's Day (handing out coins for good behavior, being respectful, etc.) and a few themed writing pages for your students to use to share about the fun day or write his/her own March story!


  1. Love the cup idea. Definitely putting that on the list to do this year. Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. You are welcome! It's always a 'mystery.' My own kids (now that they know the secret) still LOVE to do them every year! Good Luck and I hope your students enjoy the magic!

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