Celebrate St Patrick’s Day

Celebrate St Patrick’s Day

Sunday 17th March is St Patrick’s Day – the patron saint of Ireland, but it is not only in the ‘emerald isle’ that this day is cherished and celebrated as it’s reported that St Patrick’s Day is celebrated in more countries than any other national festival.

St Patrick’s Day was made an official Christian feast day in the early 1600s and is observed by the Anglican and Catholic Church alike. The Church lifted Lenten restrictions and it became a traditional day of feasting and drinking which has continued into the present!

Who was St Patrick?
St Patrick lived in the 5th century A.D. and was a British Christian missionary who introduced Christianity to Ireland, which at that time, followed mainly the Celtic pagan religions. He was believed to have been kidnapped at the age of sixteen, taken by Irish raiders and made to work as a shepherd, during which time, he reportedly ‘found God’. After 6 years, he escaped, returned home and became a priest, vowing to return and bring Christianity to the county that had enslaved him.

After returning to Northern Ireland, he converted many to his own religion, and was eventually made a bishop. One interesting myth says that St Patrick was able to drive the ‘snakes’ out of Ireland, but since Ireland has never had any snakes, this is most certainly an allegory referring to St Patrick driving the druids into the south of the country.

The significance of the three-leaf shamrock
The shamrock is a sprig of white clover that grows in the winter and was used by St Patrick to explain the Holy Trinity because it had three leaves, representing the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. It was also said to represent faith, hope and love too.

The shamrock has been used as the emblem of Ireland for centuries but many people today, confuse it with a lucky four-leaf clover, and you will upset many an Irish patriot if you confuse the two on St Patricks’ Day.

How can you celebrate St Patrick’s Day in your setting?
To help you celebrate St Patrick’s Day in your setting, we have come up with 3 areas of the EYFS and suggested 3 activities in each. We hope they will help you celebrate the day in true Irish style.

Understanding the world

Hold a ceilidh or try some traditional Irish step dancing
A ceilidh is a traditional Irish celebration involving dancing with partners to traditional music. You can use skipping, gallops and hops to move around the room in an anti-clockwise direction, and you can make up some simple routines yourself or visit www.setdancing.com.au/free-resources/ for some more ideas and free resources.

If you want to try out some traditional Irish step dancing, ‘Riverdance’-style, have a look at this YouTube video for some basic steps that all can enjoy.

Organise a St Patrick’s Day parade (inside or outside)
Traditional St Patrick’s Day parades are held all over the world so why not organise one for your setting? You could make some green, white and orange flags and some carnival-style floats using painted cardboard boxes with different Irish symbols or images.

Irish-themed cooking
There are a whole host of ideas for St Patrick’s Day recipes from green cupcakes to shamrock-shaped biscuits. A few minutes spent searching the internet will reveal lots of simple recipes for pre-schoolers but we like the ones here which include lucky green pancakes and a green, white and orange popcorn and pretzel party mix.

Mathematics & Literacy

Use the shamrock to learn to count in 3s
Since we are focusing on the number 3 in the shamrock, why not cut out and colour in some shamrocks, numbering the leaves? If you have older groups you could count up in sets of 3 – for example, 1, 2, 3; 4, 5, 6; 7, 8, 9 and so on.

Gold coin hide and seek
Create a ‘treasure hunt’ around your setting with clues to follow to lead your children to the pot of gold….eventually. You can use gold chocolate coins for a reward if they solve the clues correctly.

Use the idea of 3s to create a display
St Patrick used the number 3 to explain the Holy Trinity but you could create a display related to the importance of the number 3 in everyday life: for example, different types of triangles, March being the 3rd month; past, present and future; 3 primary colours of red, yellow and blue – the list is almost endless.

Expressive arts and Design

Decorate your setting in green using shamrocks, leprechauns and rainbows
The mischievous little leprechaun, sitting with a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, is a traditional Irish image. Why not paint a large mural to show the colours of the rainbow and make a ‘pot of gold’ for the end of it, guarded by a leprechaun? But be warned, if you introduce a naughty leprechaun into your setting, who knows what havoc he will wreak during the week – so plenty of opportunity to have some mischievous fun with your children here!

Make an Irish harp
A harp is a traditional Irish instrument and you can easily make some using an old shoe box and some large elastic bands. Stretch the bands around the box to create the strings. Investigate the difference in sound if you use different sized boxes.

Sing some themed nursery rhymes
There are some wonderful nursery rhymes and songs on the theme of St Patrick’s Day. One of our favourites is “I’m a little leprechaun”, sung to the tune of “I’m a little teapot” which you can find here – guaranteed to have you singing in the staff room! Find other song ideas here.

However you celebrate, have fun, and watch out for those naughty leprechauns!

Mother’s Day sensory bottle craft

Mother’s Day sensory bottle craft

You will need:

  • A clear plastic bottle with lid
  • Fresh or artificial flowers
  • Coloured insulating tape (yellow, green, blue)
  • Clear sticky tape
  • Extra bits to add inside the bottle (we have used: glitter, pompoms, gems)

1. Remove the stems from the flowers and pop them in the bottle.

2. Add all the extra bits you want to include, such as glitter and gems.

3. Fill the bottle with water and secure the lid.

4. Decorate the bottle with insulating tape. You can add grass on the bottom or the sky with clouds on top.

Be as creative as you want! Shake the bottle and have fun!

St Albans nursery listed in The Times Top 100 Best Companies

St Albans nursery listed in The Times Top 100 Best Companies

Grasshoppers Day Nursery in St Albans, which is rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted, has been listed in The Times Top 100 Best Companies.

Raelene Herd, deputy manager at the nursery said to the Herts Advertiser that the reason Grasshoppers Day Nursery was on the list, was that it’s not only children who get the best care and attention, but staff do as well. She explained and described the environment as being a “happy, supported staff team who love their work and workplace”.

Staff also confirmed that the nursery is a great place to be.

The nursery’s manager, Jenifer Neville, added: “We are thrilled our company is rated number 40 in The Times Best Companies list and recognised for our charity fund-raising, community initiatives and investment in colleagues.

“Our pride in our nursery and in our company is reflected in our happy and confident children and there is nothing more rewarding than that.”

Original story by: The Herts Advertiser

Norfolk pre-school one of the winners of Books for Schools

Norfolk pre-school one of the winners of Books for Schools

Last October a campaign was launched to encourage communities, including staff and parents, to collect tokens for a chance to win free books for their local schools.

The feedback for the campaign was great, and hundreds of schools around Norfolk entered it, with the four settings with the most tokens getting the biggest prizes.

The Earthsea School in Honingham won the first prize, and Ladybird Pre-school Nursery in Sheringham were second.

Hickling Infant School and Saxlingham Primary won third and fourth place respectively.

All four settings received £2,500 worth of free books each.

Schools which collected more than 1,000 tokens will get £100 worth of free books, with over 250 schools set to receive these. This means over 50,000 pupils will benefit from the books.

Clare Stimpson, admin officer at The Earthsea School who supports children with complex needs, said: “The children and teachers are currently in the process of choosing these books, which will enhance the learning of the children and give them a greater choice.”

Vanessa Harris, Ladybird Nursery’s manager in Sheringham, said to Great Yarmouth Mercury: “We have decided to give every child at the nursery a book as a gift to help promote reading at home. For a small charity pre-school such as we are, this is a huge deal and will allow us to purchase a much wider variety of books than we would be able to.”

Mrs Harris also added that with the remainder of the money, the nursery would buy copies of children’s favourite traditional books.

Original story by: Great Yarmouth Mercury

Children at Barrow nursery receive a letter from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex

Children at Barrow nursery receive a letter from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex

Children in Robin class at Old Vicarage Day Nursery in Barrow had a celebration party after they received a letter from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

Included in the letter, children received a photograph of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate, and their three children, Princes George and Louis and Princess Charlotte, as well as one of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

Children received the letter after being encouraged by the preschool teacher, Rachel Smith, to write a letter to the royal couple.

Rachel Smith has spoken about the tradition of children sending letters to the royal family and responses they have received over the years.

She told The Mail: “We sent a big Christmas card to Buckingham Palace in December which all the children got involved with and then we received a card back with a lovely photo of Meghan and Harry inside.

“We organised a ‘royal party’ to celebrate and we had party food at snack time with mini cocktail sausages and cakes; then all the children made a crown.

“Everyone came in dressed up in something regal and a couple of the boys came in dressed as St George and the dragon.

“We always celebrate St George’s Day in April and we have been reading stories about it ahead of our royal tea party.

“We always enjoy incorporating different cultural celebrations into the curriculum at nursery, celebrating our own royal family underlines the British Values that we try to teach in the Early Years Foundation Stage.

“So far in 2019, the Hartington Street nursery has celebrated Chinese New Year, and during the course of the year we also celebrate festivals like Diwali, Eid, Hanukkah and Christmas.”

Original story by: The Mail

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