Sunday, March 17, 2013

Planning a Sense-able St. Patrick’s Day Tea and Playdate

source: Wikimedia
Yesterday afternoon, while I was balancing work, housekeeping and kids, I glanced up saw the date on the calendar.  March 16th.  Argh!  That meant that St. Patrick’s Day was less than 24 hours away and I had yet to prepare for it.

Before I knew it, all thoughts of working and de-cluttering around the kids while Hubby was out at a commitment were hijacked.  My main intention for the afternoon became to throw together a plan for a sensory-smart St. Patrick’s Day Liturgical Tea and, if all went well, playdate.

So, I whisked the kids into the car to make it to the library before closing.  There, we scooped up whatever St. Patrick’s Day reads had not already been checked out.  Then, I referenced some of our past sensory friendly St. Patrick’s day story-and-play activities and the St. Patrick’s Day playdate ideas I shared at Catholic Mother’s Online two years ago.  And, finally, I thought about what we might wish to eat and do as a family, and, hopefully, with friends, this year. 

This is what I came up with.  Feel free to borrow last-minute ideas to enjoy during your own sensory-friendly St. Patty’s Day celebrations today!


  • Light a green (or blue) candle with a picture of St. Patrick taped to it.  (Although green is associated with St. Patrick’s Day, St. Patrick was originally depicted in blue.)
  • Decorate table with shamrock cut outs or real shamrocks, since legend had it that St. Patrick used a shamrock to teach about the Holy Trinity.
  • Put a drum and a bell on the table, because legends refer to St. Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland with either a drum or a bell.
GFCF Tea Time Fare

Luke and Nina at St. Patty's Family Dinner, 2009

As I already mentioned, I am late with St, Patrick’s Day preparations, thus both time and budget constraints demand a relatively simple menu. 

Since we don’t consume food dyes in our home, many quick, easy, yet cute, modern St. Patrick’s Day menu ideas are out for us.

Many traditional Irish foods won't work either.  For, unlike me, our children are not potato lovers.  Plus, we serve only gluten-, casein-, additive- and preservative-free food at home.

But, that does not mean we won’t be feasting.  Based on our grocery shopping run and whether our friends will be joining us, our menu may include any of the following: 
  • Shamrock Peppers and Eggs, like those found on Catholic Cuisine, to remind us of the Holy Trinity.
  • A Fresh Fruit Rainbow made from sliced strawberries and raspberries, clementine segments, pineapple cubes, green grapes, blueberries, and purple grapes, which we will tie into traditional Irish lore as well as God’s promise to Noah (which we will mention despite it not being 100% thematic to the day, since reinforcing Bibe stories is useful no matter what day it is.)
  • A GFCF Pot-o-Gold Soup, inspired by the recipe found at, to remind us of traditional Irish lore as well as the idea that true bounty comes from the Lord, much like the ingredients in our pot will
OUR ADAPTED RECIPE:  Melt 2 tablespoons of coconut oil (or ghee, if you tolerate ghee) in a pan and sauté 1 finely chopped onion in it.  Once the onions are transluscent, remove from heat.
Meanwhile, peel, core and dice 3 medium apples.
Add chopped apples, 2 boxes of defrosted organic squash, 1 cup of apple juice (or cider) and 3 cups of stock to the onions.  Bring to a boil and then simmer 25 minutes.
Puree with a bit of salt, pepper and cinnamon, plus 1 tablespoon of raw honey or maple syrup.
  • An Fruit and Veggie Irish Flag inspired by the one on Catholic Cuisine.  Our will be made with carrots, pea pods and sliced bananas and will work to remind the children that St. Patrick is patron to Ireland.
  • Sunflower Seed Butter Cookies, which we created last week and discovered actually cook up with green centers.  (Luke has been waiting fro St. Patrick’s Day to try these again!)
  • Liquid Gold (a golden-colored 100% juice or smoothie I find on sale).
  • Crispy Kale (any excuse for this crispy green goodness works here)
  • Green Tea (which the right color, even if it evokes the wrong continent for the day's focus)


As always, the children will likely make up their own prayers.
As far as formal prayers go, I plan to help them pray the following from the Liturgy of the Hours:
God our Father,
you sent Saint Patrick
to preach your glory to the people of Ireland.
By the help of his prayers,
may all Christians proclaim your love to all men.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.


Playing Snake Freeze

Depending on if it is just us or if our friends can make it, we will enjoy any combination of the following activities:
  • Blue to Green Tactile Fun:  Ask anyone what the color of St. Patrick’s day is and you will hear, “green”.  However, St. Patrick was originally portrayed wearing blue. Thus, because I am not prepared enough to make homemade playdough or pud, we will explore how to change the color blue to green using shaving cream and food coloring on trays.
  • Nature Faces for Proprioceptive and Tactile Input:  We’ll talk about how the people of Ireland went from sad because they did not know God, to happy because they did, through St, Patrick’s teachings.  Then, we’ll go on a nature walk to find items that can be used to create happy “nature faces”.
  • Read Alouds for Auditory and Visual Input will include any of the books we own, or that I was able to snag from the library, including:
Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland
The Story of Saint Patrick's Day
The St. Patrick's Day Shillelagh
  • St. Patrick Four Corners for Fine Motor and Proprioceptive Fun:  We’ll team up to create four images related to St. Patrick – a bishop trampling on/driving away snakes, a shamrock, a Celtic cross and a baptismal font.  Then, we’ll use these to play a traditional game of Four Corners using these instead of numbers.
  • St. Patrick’s Stick Freeze Game for Auditory, Proprioceptive and Vestibular Input and Body Control:  Legend says that St. Patrick carried an ash wood walking stick with him as he preached, and that whenever he began evangelizing, he thrust it into the ground.  At one place, it is said that his good news message took so long to get through to the people that St. Patrick’s stick grew roots before he was ready to move on.  We’ll bring this legend to life by playing a dance-freeze-pray game.  To play, we’ll turn on some tunes while everyone dances. Then, we’ll turn the music off and have everyone freeze, rooted to the ground.  Before we the music on again, everyone will have to recite a common Catholic prayer.
  • Singing Shamrocks for Auditory Input and Fine Motor Control:  We’ll teach “I’m a Little Shamrock”, adapted by me from “I’m a Little Teapot” and, then fashion shamrocks using three green hearts with symbols drawn on them for the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
I’m a little shamrock see my leaves.
Count my petals if you please
One for the Father, One for the Son,
One for the Holy Spirit.  God is three in one.
  • Snake Freeze for Auditory, Oral-Motor, Proprioceptive and Vestibular Input:  One legend says that St, Patrick drove the snakes from Ireland using a drum.  Another says he used a bell.  We will let our St. Patrick’s choose between these with that person laying down next to the drum or bell. to “sleep”, making snoring sounds if possible (for that extra deep breathing, which can be so good!)
The other children will be snakes.  They will line up a ways away from St. Patrick and, on their bellies or on their feet, move toward the sleeping St. Patrick, of course, being encouraged to make hissing sounds.

When St. Patrick wishes, “he” will reach for the drum or bell to beat or ring it.  All snakes will freeze and stay frozen for as long as St. Patrick maintains the beating of the drum or ringing of the bell.  Then, St. Patrick will back to sleep and the snakes will move forward again.

Play will continue until a snake steals the drum or bell or touches St. Patrick.  That person will get to be St. Patrick next.
  • Throw The Snakes Out of Ireland for Proprioceptive Input:  Legends say that St. Patrick is said to have thrown the snakes out of Ireland, so we will use a hula hoop on the grass as an island, put a number of small plastic snakes in it and take turns getting on the island to throw or kick the snakes out.
I expect it to be a full, blessed feast day here today and hope yours will be, too.

What are your favorite St. Patrick’s Day recipes and activities?

(If you receive this post via email and cannot see the linky, be sure to actually click over to the blog to read browse the rich catalog of ideas there.)

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