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Connection Corner

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with family-friendly activities

photo of a shamrock

Here in the United States, St. Patrick’s Day – March 17 – has become a fun way to celebrate Irish-American culture. You and your family can join in the excitement with these engaging and educational activities!

Catch a Leprechaun

You’re probably already familiar with Rube Goldberg machines. You know, those crazy contraptions that use a convoluted chain reaction to do a simple task? Work with your children to design, build and test one with the goal of catching a leprechaun on St. Patrick’s Day. It’s a great way to build creativity, design-thinking, and problem-solving skills. Plus, it’s tons of fun! Learn more about Rube Goldberg challenges and the science behind them from North Dakota 4-H.

Start a Conversation

Try some themed conversation starters to get your family talking. Use time around the dinner table or in the car to unplug, share your thoughts, and reconnect. Here are a few ideas:

  • If you found a pot of gold, what would you do?
  • What do you think you’d really find at the end of a rainbow?
  • If you found a 4-leaf clover that brought you good luck for a whole day, what do you think that day would be like?

Plant a Shamrock

You’ve probably seen shamrock pictures popping up everywhere this month! They seem to be the unofficial plant of March 17. This year, why not plant (or purchase) the actual flora?  It may feel right for your family to learn more about how St. Patrick used shamrocks in religious teachings, or just use it as an opportunity to take care of a living thing and add more beauty to your home. Learn more about shamrocks as houseplants from Penn State Extension.

Dive Deeper

While St. Patrick’s Day can be a great way to honor Irish culture, elements of our celebrations may also play into some hurtful stereotypes. Being mindful of this, try using the day as an opportunity to learn more about Ireland and Irish-American heritage. Maybe your family can learn a few phrases in Irish Gaelic or try making a recipe for soda bread. Perhaps you can watch videos of traditional Irish music or dance. Or maybe you want to research some of the many Irish contributions to the American Culture. Using reputable sources to learn more about cultures different from your own is a great way to begin dispelling stereotypes.



Emily Schoenfelder joined the Illinois 4-H team in 2017. Prior to this, she began her work in positive youth development with California 4-H and the YMCA. She specializes in STEM engagement, social-emotional development, and educator professional development.  

She received a Master of Science degree in recreation, park, and tourism administration from Western Illinois University.    

When she is not writing curriculum or facilitating a training, you may find Emily sitting on the floor of her office, building marshmallow catapults out of popsicle sticks or designing mazes for robots for her next STEM program.  


Connection Corner is a blog that provides timely information, activities, and resources to help you stay connected to loved ones, the world around you, and yourself.