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Ashley Ross


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"My students' favorite thing about celebrating St. Patrick's Day is the anticipation of what might happen on the holiday!" says first-grade teacher Ashley Ross. "Creating leprechaun traps really contributes to the excitement. On St. Patrick's Day, when students enter the classroom, they quickly find a trail of gold dust (glitter). They follow the path from the door of the classroom and discover it goes by each student's desk and around all the leprechaun traps."

Even while on sabbatical, Ross scarcely can contain the enthusiasm she shares with the students in her classroom at Barrett Elementary Center in Cresco, Pennsylvania. Each year, her students design and construct original leprechaun traps, write stories about encounters with leprechauns, plant grass seed in leprechaun planters, and read St. Patrick's Day books.

Students plant grass seed in leprechaun planters and watch them grow "hair!"

On the holiday itself, however, they soon realize that their leprechaun traps have been tampered with! "The path of gold dust ends near the outside door of our classroom, with a note written in teeny tiny handwriting by Lucky the Leprechaun!" recalls Ross. "The note usually comments on how clever the traps were, but [points out that] the students still couldn't catch him. Some groups find a pile of gold chocolate coins at the end of the path; other years, a gold chocolate coin is found hidden in each student's desk. That's something the students talk about for the rest of the year."

Later in the day, Ross's students make leprechaun bag puppets and use the puppets to read their leprechaun stories to other first graders. They also check out the leprechaun traps on display in the other classrooms, soon discovering that Lucky has visited those rooms, too!

The first graders design traps to catch leprechauns.

In her fourteen years of teaching first grade -- and with the help of other teachers -- Ross has developed a successful set of holiday activities for St. Patrick's Day. Her students enjoy the leprechaun story Jamie O'Rourke and the Big Potato by Tomie DePaola, and find the "naughty" things that leprechauns do a fun and easy topic for creative writing.

Each year, Ross has a few students who tell her they plan to keep their leprechaun traps for the next year so they can catch one at home! "Just about every year, a parent from the previous year will stop by to tell me that he and his child made another leprechaun trap," Ross reports. "The second grade teachers often tell me their students want to make leprechaun traps like they did in first grade. I'm glad to know that we're creating lasting, positive memories for the students to treasure."

On St. Patrick's Day, the leprechaun traps are covered with gold dust.

Ross and her students have a delightful classroom Web site that includes her St. Patrick's Day ideas. It also offers a blank St. Patrick's Day writing paper for download, and Ross is thrilled to share her projects with other teachers online.

"I strongly believe that good ideas should be shared, and the Internet is a perfect medium for sharing ideas that really work in my classroom," she adds. "All the time and effort I have put into the Web site is worth it when I receive an email from another teacher thanking me for posting an idea on my site."

Photos courtesy of Ashley Ross.

Coming Soon...

If you're a teacher who has completed an interesting or unusual activity with your class -- or if you know of a teacher who has -- please let us know about it. E-mail a brief description of the activity, along with your contact information, to [email protected].

Article by Cara Bafile
Education World®
Copyright © 2006 Education World

03/02/2006