St. Patrick’s Day: Origin, Activities & Books for Children


Actually, “St. Patrick’s Blue,” a dark blue, was the original color associated with St. Patrick for a long time.  The phrase “the wearing of the green” became popular and was associated with wearing a green shamrock.  Also, green is the color associated with Ireland.  The popular phrase and showing allegiance to Ireland probably influenced the change from wearing blue to wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day which occurred around the 1750’s.  Today, if you are caught not wearing green, you will most likely be pinched!

As I was growing up, I would always try to remember to wear green to school so I wouldn’t be pinched!  I forgot one year, and the teacher pinned a piece of green paper on me.  When I got a little older, I realized, “Hey, I have green eyes so I always have on green!”  I was rarely pinched after that!  So…all of us who have green eyes can point to them if someone tries to pinch us!


St. Patrick’s Day originated somewhere around the 400’s as a religious holiday in Ireland.  Nowadays, it is celebrated as a public holiday in the United States, Australia, Great Britain, Canada, and New Zealand to a large extent.  There are many parades associated with the celebration.  In the United States, the first public celebration took place in Boston in the 1700’s.


  • Have children cut out 3 green hearts, all the same size.  Glue the hearts together to make a shamrock.  Cut out a simple green stem and glue to the shamrock.
  • Have children trace their hands on different colors of construction paper to make a large rainbow on a wall in the classroom.
  • Have children use colored circle stickers to make a rainbow.
  • Have each child paint a smooth stone with green paint and glue green felt on the bottom to make a Blarney Stone paper weight.
  • Buy medium-large sized, plain sugar cookies or bake them.  Let kids decorate their cookie with a rainbow by using tubes of colored icing.  Or put a solid color of icing such as light blue to make the sky and then let kids make a rainbow out of M&Ms.
  • Serve Rainbow Jello Dessert (actually called Ribbon Jello Dessert).  You could add another layer or two of color to make it look like a rainbow.
  • St. Patrick’s Day Crafts by Carol Gnojewski.  Good for ages 8-9.  (10 easy crafts with pictures, directions, and traceable patterns)


  • Good Luck!:  A St. Patrick’s Day Story by Joan Holub.  Good for toddlers and preschoolers.  (illustrates concept of parades)
  • St. Patrick’s Day Countdown by Saline Yoon.  Good for toddlers and preschoolers.
  • It’s St. Patrick’s Day by Rebecca Gomez.  Good for ages 4-6 and ESL.
  • St. Patrick’s Day Alphabet by Beverly Barras Vidrine.  Good for ages 4-8.
  • Luckiest St. Patrick’s Day Ever! by Teddy Slater.  Good for ages 4-8.  (illustrates concept of parades)
  • Shamrock Scare (Scooby-Doo!) by Courtney Tyo.  Good for ages 4-8.  (“Picture Clue” book that uses a rebus to teach words)
  • St. Patrick’s Day by Mari C. Schuh.  Good for ages 4-8.
  • That’s What Leprechauns Do by Eve Bunting.  Good for ages 4-12.  (great illustrations by award winning illustrator, Emily Arnold McCully)
  • Fine St. Patrick’s Day by Susan Wojciechowski.  Good for ages 5-8.  (great story of generosity versus greed)
  • Night Before St. Patrick’s Day by Natasha Wing.  Good for ages 5-8.  (story is in verse like Twas the Night Before Christmas)
  • St. Patrick’s Day by Gail Gibbons.  Good for ages 5-8.  (the story of Patrick’s life, how this day is celebrated, and six legends)
  • St. Patrick’s Day in the Morning by Eve Bunting.  Good for ages 5-8.  (illustrates concept of parades)
  • St. Patrick’s Day by Carmen Bredeson & Don L. Curry.  Good for ages 6-7.  (Scholastic – gives a little history of St. Patrick’s Day)
  • Green Gravy by Beverly Lewis.  Good for ages 7-10.  (great author)
  • Shamrocks, Harps, and Shillelaghs by Edna Barth.  Good for ages 8-12.  (explains the legends and historical facts of St. Patrick’s Day)
  • Let’s Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by Peter & Connie Roop.  Good for ages 8-11.  (question and answer format about the history and how St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated)


  • American Cultures for Children:  Irish-American Heritage by Schlessinger Media .  Good for grades K-4.  Presents Irish immigration to America, history and customs,  how to say some Gaelic words, Irish dances, how to make a Celtic harp, a folktale, a folk song for children to sing.  Features Phylicia Rashad (from the Cosby Show).
  • Holidays for Children: St. Patrick’s Day by Schlessinger Media.  Good for grades K-4.   Gives history, brief biography on St. Patrick,  info on leprechauns and how to make a hand puppet, and festive celebrations.  A teacher’s guide comes with it and is also available online.