Monday, March 9, 2015

Preschool Leprechaun Traps

St. Patrick's day is pretty special in my classroom, every year we try to catch a Leprechaun! This has become a favorite activity, and while the children think it's hilarious, I've been able to sneak some learning into the process too.


I start with a cute little note "from the Leprechaun" and a basket of green St. Patrick's day goodies that we can use in the classroom.  This note encourages the students to help me decorate the classroom, which helps get all of my kiddos excited about St. Patrick's day, and engaged in the project. I usually try to plan a St. Patrick's day craft to go along with this. It think this year I want to try making gold rocks and clover leaf cutouts

The next day I leave a note from the Leprechaun that asks the children to put together and easy trap, to see if they can catch him.  The supplies for this are basic, and my intent is to get them to start thinking about a trap, and what they might need to catch a Leprechaun.  Here are some photos of their basic traps from last year.



When these traps inevitably don't catch a Leprechaun, the Leprechaun leaves us another note, asking the children to draw a plan for their traps. This is my favorite part of the project because it lets me see what is going on inside of their heads. It also gives my students an opportunity to plan ahead and think about details that might make a difference.  They get to be creative, and use their prior knowledge to come up with a trap that they think will work.  Here are some photos that show our traps - we completed a rough draft, and then sat down to put a little more thought into our work. 




After some intense planning, we make a list of the materials that we might need. This requires the children to think about their traps, and break them down into smaller parts - what can they use to build their rainbows, their decoy pots of gold, the baskets that the leprechaun might be caught under? Making this list helps them envision what their traps might really look like.  

Once we have a list of materials I do my best to collect what they need - we use a lot of pipe cleaners, construction paper, markers, the kinds of supplies that are readily available.  I set aside an entire afternoon to set up the traps, because this is a project that my students really want to work on, they will spend the time working, and I want them to have the freedom to take their time and get their traps exactly how they want them.  I try to do this right before St. Patrick's day so that they can set up their traps wherever they want and they won't be disturbed.  

The traps don't generally look like much to the casual observer, but I see all of the planning and hard work that went into them. For many of my students, this is the first project that they've completed from start to finish - planning, designing, and implementing.  THat's a lot of work for a preschooler, and they are so proud of them!

On St. Patrick's day I make sure to leave a not from the Leprechaun describing how he got away without being caught, and a special treat that he has left for them. 

I've done this activity for a couple of years, and last year I put together some notes from the Leprechaun and some prediction charts, so that I can use them every year (it made my week a lot easier!) you can get the printables to go along with my Leprechaun traps from my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.  

Do you make Leprechaun traps with your students? I would love to hear about them!


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