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by Terri Johnson, author of Homeschooling ABCs (www.homeschoolingabcs.com ) - dedicated to helping new homeschoolers gain the confidence and the necessary skills to successfully teach their children at home.

St. Patrick's Day

A Unit Study
March is definitely a transition month. The weather changes, winter sports come to a close, tired homeschooling parents begin to burn out, students get bored and restless as they long for a spring break... March is a great month to mix things up a bit and do something different - for a week, at least!

This month we bring you a unit study that you can add to your studies or replace them altogether for a fun and lighthearted change. Take some time to enjoy each other and this lifestyle we call "homeschooling". Feel free to pick and choose from these activities we have listed or do them all. Read through the lesson plan a few days ahead so that you can determine whether you need any supplies from the store. Have fun!

Monday - March 11th

Read a biography of St. Patrick. There are several sources that you can find by searching online or taking a trip to the library. We are rather biased in our recommendation of a good biography on the life of St. Patrick because we publish one in our book, What Really Happened During the Middle Ages. Written by Jennaya Dunlap, this story is geared towards 3rd through 8th graders and can be read in one sitting and downloaded from the link below. For a longer historical, though fictional, book on the life of St. Patrick, you can read Flame Over Tara.

Download the biography of St. Patrick here.

On this day, begin to do some research using either the Internet* or your library's card catalog. Pick a topic for a report which can be in the form of a paper (for older students), or a lapbook (for younger students). For more information on lapbooks, read this article (scroll about halfway down the page). Some topics for research could be St. Patrick's Day Traditions, Irish Legends & Folklore, History of Ireland, Celts, Potato Famine, Immigration of the Irish, etc.

Today is just research day, so print out interesting pictures, articles, etc. and tuck them inside a file folder so that you can begin using them on Wednesday.

Tuesday - March 12th

Have a green day! Today, we'll do some activities surrounding the color of green. Here are some ideas:

1. Flip through old magazines and cut out pictures to make a green collage. This can be done as individual pictures or as a group poster.

2. Take a walk, gathering and naming as many things in nature that are green that you can find. Or find a quite spot outside and draw a scene highlighting the things which are green.

3. If you have young children, read Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss and then make this meal using some food coloring to dye your eggs green. If your children are older, plan a green meal, which includes lots of veggies and other foods which are green. Brainstorm with each other for ideas. Perhaps this is a good day to try pistachio pudding!

4. Experiment with color. Pour water into a clear glass. Let your students add drops of blue and yellow food coloring to create various shades of green. Record the number of drops to make the colors.

5. Make green flubber! Recipe is here.

Wednesday - March 13th

Today, we learn a little more about the history and geography of Ireland with some map and timeline activities.

If your students keep a running timeline of events that you study together, add some significant dates from Ireland's history today. If this is not an exercise that you regularly have your students do, then pull out a clean sheet of paper and create either a horizontal timeline or vertical list of events. This timeline can be added to the report or lapbook which your students will be assembling later in the week. Here are a few key events that you can add, but also check out these two sites listed below for an indepth timeline of Ireland's history.

c 600 BC Celts begin to arrive in Ireland, from central Europe.

c100 BC Arrival of the Gaels
200 Beginnings of High Kingship at Tara

432 Arrival of St. Patrick to help convert pagan Gaelic Kings to Christianity.
795 The Vikings begin raiding Ireland

1002 Brian Boru becomes High King of Ireland

1166 Rory O'Connor becomes High King of Ireland

1177 King Henry makes his son John Lord of Ireland

1394 King Richard II leads an army to subdue Ireland.

1556 Queen Mary sends English people to settle land confiscated from Irish rebels in Laois and Offaly. Mary is the first monarch to successfully 'plant' English settlers in Ireland.

1593-1603 The Nine Years War

1610 The first Protestant settlers arrive

1660 Charles II becomes king

1740-1741 A severe famine affects Ireland

1807 Famine in Ireland

1845-1849 The potato blight causes a potato famine. Perhaps 1 million people die. Many more emigrate. The population of Ireland falls dramatically. The famine is at its worst in the West and Southwest of Ireland.

1919-1921 The War of Independence. The IRA fights a guerrilla war against the British.

1972 'Bloody Sunday' in Derry. Fourteen people are killed when the British 1st Parachute Regiment opens fire on demonstrators.

1998 The Good Friday Agreement is signed

For a more extensive timeline of events, visit http://www.localhistories.org/irishtime.html or http://www.rootsweb.com/~fianna/history/.

To learn a little about the geography of Ireland, we suggest you look at some maps of Ireland. Here are two maps which you can print out and have your students color.

Map 1 - St. Patrick

Map 2 - Ireland Divided

(For more World History outline maps like these, check out our map products. To explore timeline options, see our timeline products.)

Thursday - March 14th

Listen to some Irish music today as your students begin to assemble their lapbooks or write their report. Writing is a complex skill, but to simplify the process here, have your older students read back through the material they collected on Monday and begin to highlight points of interest that relate to their main topic. Then have them write an outline or rough draft for their report. The final draft may be written tomorrow in their best handwriting or typed on the computer.

For the lapbooks, follow the instructions on this website - www.scrapbookingtolearn.com and use the maps and pictures they have created this week. Also include recipes (see Wednesday), vocabulary, drawings of St. Patrick, leprechauns, photographs of activities, etc. Be creative. For a colorful shamrock to include, follow these directions. Using some green construction paper, fold lengthwise and cut out three hearts. Glue hearts onto white paper, points together to form a shamrock and then glue on a stem cut from the green construction paper.

Friday - March 15th

Sunday is St. Patrick's Day! On this day, the 17th of March, in the year 461, St. Patrick died after a life of dedication bringing the Gospel of Christ to Ireland.

If they haven't done so already, have your students finish up their reports and/or lapbooks. Embellish with green trim or illuminations drawn from hand.

This weekend enjoy an Irish boiled dinner of corned beef, potatoes, carrots and cabbage. Bake a loaf of Irish Soda Bread. Recipe here. Top off your meal with cupcakes frosted with green frosting (use food coloring, of course, for the desired shade of green).

In conclusion, here is an Irish blessing for you:

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields and,
Until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.


*We always recommend that you provide parental assistance when using the Internet.

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