luck of the irish...

Last night was our monthly Evening Storytime and being that I won't see this group again until April, it seemed only fitting to make our theme St. Patrick's Day. Now, as my regular readers know, (wait... do I *have* regular readers - Hi, Mom!) I am new to the storytime game and this is my first go-round with holiday themes. I learned in February that Groundhog's Day books can be terribly long. In March, I am learning that St. Patrick's Day books can be just terrible. :)

Now, to be fair, I am a little bit biased when it comes to St. Patrick's Day. My mother is from Belfast and my father is from Derry, so I am an Irish girl through and through. As an Irish girl, I know that the Irish are not four leaf clover enthusiasts - our symbol is three-leafed shamrock, thank you very much - and I know that there is a lot more to our folklore than the cheeky leprechaun. So I get a little frustrated with offerings that don't go much beyond that.

That said, it's all in fun and fun is what storytime is about - so I read my leprechaun stories and presented my fairly detailed paper-piecing leprechaun craft and I think all went very well indeed.

Here's the setlist*:

'Hello Everybody'

Welcome: I asked what people knew about St. Patrick's Day and/or Ireland. My evening storytime has a wider variety of ages, so I get some pretty cool answers - it's about being Irish, people eat corned beef and cabbage (not this Irish girl!), leprechauns hide gold at the end of rainbows, Ireland is green, etc. etc. I shared that I am Irish and have visited Ireland just recently (over Christmas) and that the Irish tell wonderful stories about magic and fairies and (yes) leprechauns.


Clever Tom and the Leprechaun: An Old Irish Story by Linda Shute
I have to be honest and say that I did like this leprechaun story -- because Tom was caught in a way that didn't make him seem like a complete fool and the leprechaun was wearing something other than a green suit. :) Tom knows his leprechaun stuff - once you find one, you can't look away from them or they'll escape and leprechauns though tricky are true to their word. Tom is clever, but like most he is no match for a little man with a treasure to guard.

Song: 'The Hokey Pokey'
I shared with the group that the Irish love to dance. We formed a big circle and I talked a little bit about ceili dancing - which I guess could be likened to (and likely is the origin of) American square dancing. Since we didn't have time to learn to do either of those things, I told the kids we'd do a big group dance that we all know - the Hokey Pokey!

Looking for Leprechauns by Sheila Keenan
Twins Kevin and Devin live with their granny and are always up to mischief - which often includes making "monkey faces". When they hatch a plan to catch a leprechaun, they know that in order to get his gold, they'll have to make him laugh (which is news to me, but okay...) - putting their monkey-face making skills to the test.

Craft: Leprechaun Pots
Yep, I went the easy route. I did want to do something with shamrocks (we have the Ellison die, after all!), but the ideas I came up with were either too much like a craft we'd recently done (The Valentine's Day Hugs) or I was missing a crucial element (enough green pipe cleaners for Shamrock headbands). Instead, I came up with a fairly intense paper-piecing craft (7 paper pieces, googly eyes, a pompom, a gold coin, and a confetti "sticker") that the families really seemed to enjoy.

Wish I'd thought of that flag, too - but it's just a Picnik add-on. :)

The pot o' gold is a black pumpkin diecut with a strip of black glued across the top (I did that ahead of time) and the leprechaun is a gingerbread man. I made the signs with MS Publisher clipart and a free font from fontspace.com. We had the coins on hand from a previous Summer Reading Club and I used big Glue Dots to turn them into stickers. I also used Glue Dots for the pompom nose (most were smaller than this, but I was short on the ones that were more flesh colored) and the confetti shamrock (I wanted a shiny shamrock sticker, but I couldn't find any!).

Good Luck Bear by Greg Foley
I actually read this book after the craft - I wanted to have enough time to do the craft, but I didn't want to leave it at two books and one song. I decided to use this story as a way of explaining to the kids that the Irish identify with the shamrock more than the four-leaf clover (though in fairness, the shamrock is a clover). In this sweet and simple story, Bear is told that a four-leaf clover is lucky and he does his best to find one as other animals chime in with their thoughts (and appetites!). At the end of the story, I gave every child the  pièce de résistance of the evening's craft - the shamrock sticker. :)

Happy St. Patrick's Day!