To make a rainbow, paint each fingertip a different color in rainbow order (red, orange, yellow, green, blue or purple) and gently guide your toddler's fingers across the paper in a curve. Take a moment to admire the rainbow and then let him do his own thing with the colors.
Tip: Line the table with newspaper or do this activity in a high chair for easy clean-up.
- For a young toddler, put the paint and cutters inside a newspaper-lined pan. This will keep him from making too big a mess as he scoots the cutters around while loading them with paint.
- Older toddlers with a bit more practice can just use a paper plate. Both clean up easy.
- All ages should wear a smock or old T-shirt.
5. Take a Walk and See if You Can Find Green ThingsSt. Patrick's Day is all about the green, so take this opportunity to teach your child about this color. Since this day also marks the beginning of spring in most areas, taking a walk around the neighborhood or to a park will likely yield plenty to talk about. Get down on the ground and look under the blanket of dead, brown grass of winter to find new shoots appearing. Look at tree branches and find green buds appearing. Search for green caterpillars. Ask your child simple yes and no questions like, "Is this green?" when pointing to something of another color to see if he is acquiring the concept of the color. Knowing what green isn't is part of this learning.
6. Have a Green SnackAfter you've gone on a walk and talked about green things, you can start reinforcing those concepts. If you make a snack of green food like some Jell-O, be sure to talk about it, ask questions ("What color is the Jell-O?") or make it part of an all-green snack time with other foods like peas, steamed broccoli and green beans or wilted spinach. This is something to remember each time you give your child something to eat, not just on St. Patrick's Day. Food is such and integral part of your toddler's day, so why not take that time to point out a food's color, shape, size or quantity?
7. Drink Green Milk Shakes
Sure, you can put a couple of scoops of ice cream in the blender with food coloring and get a green shake. You could even run through the drive-thru at Mickey D's and get a green shake in a pinch. But you don't need to get a blender out at all to make a toddler milk shake. Just place a small scoop of vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt in a short, wide cup. Add a splash of milk and let soften a minute. Give your toddler small spoon and add a few drops of green food coloring and let him use a little elbow grease to make his own milkshake. He will enjoy watching the color go from white to green and will love knowing that he made it happen. Don't worry about spills, either. This is part of the process of learning how to stir and mix.
Tip: Use the same shamrock cookie cutters you used for the painting activity to make shamrock shapes out of playdough.
9. Don't Forget to Wear GreenUntil my son was older, I didn't really bother trying to explain the pinch of not wearing green. When I worked with toddlers, my classroom rule was that anyone not wearing green would get a tickle. No matter what your take is on the pinching part of St. Patrick's Day, this is one more chance to take part in a fun tradition and reinforce the concept of green. It's also a chance to instill independence. Allow your child to pick out his own green outfit. He'll have fun looking through drawers and closets to find something. You can make it even more fun by hiding a special green item in a drawer like a crazy new green pair of socks or a hat. For young toddlers, lay out two or three green shirts or dresses and ask them to choose just one.
10. Listen to Irish Music and Dance an Irish JigIf the finer points of the holiday are lost on your active toddler, consider purchasing a CD of Irish music or fire up iTunes and download some MP3s (they've got an "Essentials" collection for St. Patrick's Day, so download one song or get them all). Just playing Irish music is likely to get your toddler spinning, jumping and dancing. The upbeat tempo just begs it. Introduce the best part of the Irish jig by interlocking arms and spinning around in a circle.
11. Eat Lucky Charms CerealWell, okay, this is not technically an Irish activity. And I don't condone eating sugary cereal for breakfast on a regular basis no matter the "whole grains" label on the box. Instead, make it a fun, once-a-year treat and let your child have fun searching for all the green clovers and wondering what on Earth a leprechaun is.
So, Lucky Charms isn't authentic. But this Irish Dinner is. This recipe for corned beef and cabbage uses apple juice instead of beer and cooks in the crockpot giving you tender veggies and meat -- perfect toddler fare and easy on the budget, too. Or give these other Irish recipes a try: