Sunday, March 13, 2016

Feast, Learn, and Enjoy Sensory Activities for Saint Patrick's Feast Day

This week, our Art-Music-Poetry club friends will be joining us to celebrate Saint Patrick's feast day.  As I plan forward for that celebration, I have been looking back at the past few year's of Saint Patrick's Day food, fun, and learning that we've been involved with.  In doing so, I realized that I never shared about our simple 2015 celebrations nor our sensory-smart 2014 ones.  So, I am doing so now.  I pray that you are inspired by the menu items, resources, sensory activities, and learning fun we enjoyed.

{Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links to Amazon, CCC of America, Holy Heroes. and Knowledge Quest. If you click through them to make any purchase, we may receive small income at no extra cost to you, which we put straight back into training our children up and sharing about it here.}

Simple St. Patrick's Feast Day Celebrations in 2015 

Last year, regularly scheduled activities had us so busy on Saint Patrick's feast day that we kept our observances of the day fairly simple.When the children woke, they discovered materials on our living room table which would allow them to make St. Patrick Paper Dolls and Pop-Up Scenes with thanks to Drawn 2B Creative. 

I managed to snap one fuzzy photograph of my two early-birds enjoying the paper-doll making activity but, unfortunately,forgot to take pictures of their finished dolls and scenes.

Once my third child woke, we all enjoyed a themed feast day breakfast, which included:

  • "pot-o-gold" juice,
  • "emerald isle green" foods,
  • and "rainbow" fruit.

I cannot honestly recall what recipe I used for our "shamrock green" gluten-free pasta, but I do recall Daddy and I liked it a whole lot better than the children did.

Luckily, two of the three kids loved the crispy kale chips I made, and they all found produce to enjoy in our annual fruit rainbow.

Decorating our table were a few Saint Patrick books, a green candle, some paper decorations made by the kids, and
a shamrock candle holder that my sweet niece made and gifted to us.

Over breakfast, we shared some extra prayers and began reading two of our favorite Saint Patrick's Day books, Patrick, Patron Saint of Ireland and Saint Patrick, which we finished later in the day.


Then, it was off for full day of activities outside our home, plus some time enjoying wintry weather in the yard, before we cuddled up to view the super-cute, child-friendly CCC video Saint Patrick, Brave Shepard of the Emerald Island.

My children just love such sweet CCC films, and I cannot recommend them enough.


Finally, the children and I read through some of our other favorite Saint Patrick's day read alouds that day and over the next few days. 

Celebrating Despite Sorrow - and with Plenty of Sensory Fun -  in 2014

The week of Saint Patrick's Day was a tough one for us in 2014, since it was when we lost and buried my sweet niece.  To help my children cope through the sorrow of losing their cousin, I tried to keep some things as normal as possible for them between all of the extra prayers, extended-family time, and services that followed my niece's death.  Two of these things were celebrating the saints we typically do and participating in a Sensing the Saints co-op I had organized with some friends.

Saint Patrick's Day itself was rather heartbreaking as it was the day of my niece's wake.  Still, I managed to put together a feast day breakfast, which, although watered with intermittent tears, helped my young children maintain some sense of "normalcy" during an abnormally sorrow-filled time.

For breakfast, we decorated the table with candles and had themed foods as we often do.  

We talked about the Trinity symbolism of clovers (and the superstition of lucky 4-leaf clovers, since my pepper slices had "four leaves").  The eggs were a but, the peppers, not so much.

Since making gluten-free Irish soda bread is cumbersome, and this truly was a toss-together-with-what-we-have-in-the-house feast day breakfast, I simply served frozen GFCF bread with the meal, which the children enjoyed, even if they did not make "pot-o-gold" egg and "emerald isle green" baby spinach sandwiches with it as I thought they might.  

They did however,enjoy reading about Saint Patrick in our copy of Loyola Kids Book of Saints

They also readily partook in extra prayer time and a later-in-the-day snack of our traditional produce "rainbow"...

an "Irish flag" made of produce...

and a macaroon Celtic cross, which got knocked about and partly-eaten before I snapped a photo of it...

Such festive feast-day foods helped take the edge off the weighty sorrow the children and I were experiencing.

Another day during the week, precious friends took still more edge off for us when they gifted me time to go to Adoration by myself for a short while to pray while simultaneously offering my children a break from focusing on our loss by engaging them in a super-fun morning of learning and sensory activities inspired by Saint Patrick and the country he is patron to.  

I remain ever-grateful to the ladies that joined our Sensing the Saints co-op with for their prayers and support during my family's difficult time of loss and now smile as I look back at photographs from the day and recognize all the love and light my children shared in despite the otherwise dark time it was for us.

The Saint Patrick's Day co-op day, which was planned, prepped, and facilitated by a friend I so cherish, started off with a circle time, where that friend read two of my family's yearly St. Patrick's read alouds,
Saint Patrick and St. Patrick and the Three Brave Mice (which happens to be selling for only a penny right now!)  They also played a game with the bell.

After that, the children proceeded onto choice activities, which included:

...using their gustatory and olfactory senses to taste-test different "emerald isle" green foods....

...using fine motor skills and exercising their tactile senses while making "rainbow" kebabs.

...working on patterning while also using fine motor skills, plus their tactile and visual senses while making snakes...

...enjoying more tactile, visual, and fine motor fun painting snakes and rainbows with toothpicks and mini-marshmallows...

...and using tactile senses and fine motor skills while sorting and graphing cereal pieces using free printables which no longer seem to be available online.

(You can however find similar printables to the one pictured below that we used if you Google "Lucky Charms graphing".)

After choice time, it was onto science time, where the children made green and, the, rainbow colors with the same experiment we had enjoyed when reviewing Amazing Science, Volume 1.

This experiment never fails to fascinate children (and their visual sense)...

The experiment is also great for the kids' pincer grasps!

Finally, the children made flubber.  Luke chose to make St. Patrick's original traditional color (blue) as opposed to his nowadays one (green.)

Being able to see his smile amidst the sorrow of the week was so precious to me.

Knowing my children were nourished body and soul meant so much!

Our Sensing the Saints St, Patrick's Day co-op day sure was a light for us that week!

Free Printable Unit Study

This year, my children's focus when celebrating Saint Patrick with friends will not be on sensory activities, but on art, music, and poetry, as well as, of course, prayer and feasting.  We'll also be enjoying some learning activities since I saw this FREE St. Patrick unit study that Knowledge Quest is offering right now, which has pieces we can easily weave into our week. 

I just love when folks like those at
Knowledge Quest bless others forward by sharing simple-to-use, faith-(and-history!)-based free printables.  I am not a whiz at printable making, but pray that by sharing photos and explanations of how we celebrate feast days, I may bless you in some way as well.

May your Saint Patrick's Day be rich in blessings.  Saint Patrick, pray for us.


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