Leprechaun Traps, Shamrock Hats and More: St. Patrick's Day Crafts for Kids

PHOTO Miriam Kim?s kindergarten class at Braddock Elementary made special green hats on March 16th in anticipation of St. Patrick?s Day.
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St. Patrick's Day traditions can seem pretty mysterious to a young kid. What's a leprechaun? Why do people wear green? And where is that pot of gold everyone keeps talking about? Crafts are a fun way to introduce the holiday to children and might even spur a new family tradition.

Here are four fun art projects tried and tested by busy moms. They're all relatively simple and, just as important, inexpensive.

The Leprechaun Trap

Leprechauns, those mischievous elves of Irish folklore, are notoriously hard to catch. But as legend goes there's a handsome monetary reward if you manage to capture one.

Ann Rinkenberger, mother to Olivia, 8, and Sophia, 10, said her daughters have been making "leprechaun traps" for the past five years. But there's just one problem.

"It is rather annoying," Olivia said. "We never catch them."

There are many different ways to imagine a leprechaun trap, they require only a few supplies and a lot of creativity. The Rinkenberger family uses a cardboard box with unsealed flaps at the top.

Next, they paint most of the box green, but they sponge paint one side grey to make it look like a rock wall. That's because leprechauns love stones, Rinkenberger says. And they dislike following rules, so her daughters add signs that read, 'Do Not Climb!'

Then they create a stone pathway, sprinkled with coins, meant to lure the leprechauns all the way to the top of the box where they'll, hopefully, fall right in. Nearby, there's a tiny tea set with a crumb of bread -- just in case the leprechaun is hungry.

"At the bottom of the box, the girls put some wool or paper towels to 'cushion' his fall," said Rinkenberger, 44.

But the Scandia, Minn. family doesn't just make crafts during the holidays. They also make art for a living. Rinkenberger's business on Etsy.com, Harvest Moon by Hand, sells handmade products and toys. Her daughter Sophia also participates by creating beeswax molds, and Olivia is now eager to help out too.

So far they haven't outsmarted the crafty leprechauns, whose overnight visits are marked by golden glitter and gold one dollar coins. But Olivia says if she ever does succeed in trapping a leprechaun, the first order of business would be to "ask where the money is."

Olivia and Sophia Rinkenberger check to see if they caught a leprechaun on St. Patrick's Day in 2009. / Photo courtesy of Ann Rinkenberger.

On the next page, Four Leaf Clover Hats.

Four Leaf Clover Hats

Miriam Kim, 29, a kindergarten teacher at Braddock Elementary in Annandale, Va., says her students love making shamrock hats every year around St. Patrick's Day.

Most of her 22 students don't know what a shamrock is, and they've never heard of a four-leaf clover, so Kim turns the holiday into a learning experience: they spell the color green, count clover leaves, and learn about new shapes.

"We talk about the shamrock and how it's symmetrical," she said. "We make them out of hearts and say that one side is the same as the other side."

To make the shamrock hats they take a medium-sized paper bowl and paint it green. Next, they use yellow pipe cleaner and attach it to the top of the bowl. The kids then cut out a green shamrock and staple it on to the pipe cleaner. Finally, they punch two holes on either side of the bowl and string yellow yarn through the holes, which is how the hat stays on.

On St. Patrick's Day the kids arrive at school to find a disheveled classroom "invaded" by troublemaking leprechauns.

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