Chicago is known around the world for its St. Patrick’s Day celebration. Popular events include the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the dyeing of the Chicago River and rousing performances by local Irish dancing schools. As you fete all things Irish this year, don’t forget to include Chicago’s smallest revelers in the festivities (minus the green beer, of course). Here are three ideas for simple St. Patrick’s Day-themed projects and activities that will get your little leprechauns in the mood for the big day.
Make a shamrock potato stamp
Using a plain baking potato, a heart-shaped cookie cutter and some green paint, kids can make their own custom shamrock stamp. Begin by choosing a heart-shaped cookie cutter. Once you’ve decided on the size of your cookie cutter, select a baking potato that is both long and wide enough to accommodate the whole cookie cutter. Slice the potato in half lengthwise. Press the heart-shaped cookie cutter onto the flesh side of one half of the potato.
Once you have made the outline, an adult can then use a sharp knife to cut away the potato around the heart shape. The heart shape should protrude from the rest of the potato by about one inch in order to work as a stamp. This method allows your child to hold onto the potato as he stamps.
Another option is to cut the heart shape entirely out of the potato. Dip the heart shape into green paint, wiping away any excess with a paper towel or sponge. Carefully stamp three hearts in the shape of a shamrock onto your work surface. Use a paintbrush or a thin slice of potato dipped in green paint to make a stem to complete the shamrock. Use this technique to create artwork, greeting cards or even gift bags for a St. Patrick’s Day party.
- Heart-shaped cookie cutter
- A baking potato
- Sharp knife (to be used by adults only)
- Green poster or tempura paint
- Paint brush
- Craft paper, muslin bags or other surface for stamping
Grow shamrocks at home
Get into the St. Patrick’s Day spirit by growing your own supply of shamrocks. Pick up an oxalis plant at your local nursery or florist and plant it in a decorative pot to bring good luck to your family this March. Although this houseplant is commonly associated with St. Patrick’s Day because of the four-lobed, heart-shaped leaves, oxalis is actually native to South America. The oxalis is easy to grow-it prefers abundant sunshine and moist but not wet soil.
- An oxalis plant (comes in many varieties including Irish Mist and Iron Cross; commonly available at nurseries and florists during the month of March)
- Potting soil
- Decorative pot
- Water as needed
Homemade Shamrock shakes
For a few weeks each March, McDonald’s offers its popular Shamrock Shake. This green and minty concoction is indeed a tasty St. Patrick’s Day treat. This year, try making your own green shakes at home. Gather together vanilla ice cream, milk, peppermint extract, green food coloring, measuring cups, measuring spoons and a blender.
Encourage your kids to measure each ingredient and put in into the blender (an adult should always be present when kids are using electric kitchen appliances). Give everything a whirl in the blender and add drops of green food coloring until you reach the desired green hue. Pour into glasses and serve with a straw.
- 3 cups vanilla ice cream (can substitute frozen yogurt)
- 1 cup whole milk (can substitute a low-fat milk)
- ¼ tsp. peppermint extract
- 10 drops green food coloring (consider natural food coloring as an alternative)
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Serving glasses