The story of St. Patrick is one of my favorite stories. I love how he used shamrocks to teach others about the Holy Trinity. It is such a beautiful example because he used something that everyone had seen and experienced. This is exactly the way I like to teach – taking things from a child’s environment and making them into Orthodox lessons! In honor of the Holy Trinity, I have three activities that you can use at home or in the classroom!
When I taught these lessons to the 3 year old class, we first had circle time where I read the book called, “The Story of St. Patrick’s Day” by Patricia Pingry. It is a board book and has a very easy to understand story about his life. It talks about how he taught about the Holy Trinity by comparing it to shamrocks.
It does talk about Leprechauns in the book, which some people may not like. During the lesson, I skipped over these parts and focused only on the pages about his life. I mention the book only because I haven’t found anything else like it that’s on a preschool level.
We also reviewed how we make the sign of the cross to reiterate how we remember the Holy Trinity every time we do our cross. Whenever I teach preschool at Church School, I try to set it up like a real preschool classroom with stations of various activities to keep the kids interested. You can do this at home or at school.
Holy Trinity Craft
After discussing the story, I gave each student a thick cardboard shamrock I found at the dollar store. Then each student had a sticker to put on each leaf that represented the three parts of the Holy Trinity. A Rainbow for God (we had just talked about Noah, so the rainbow fit in nicely! I wrote Father on it.) A cross for Jesus (you could also use a tiny icon, maybe cut from a catalogue, but stickers were easier for the preschoolers). A dove for the Holy Spirit.
We love playing with play dough in our house! I thought it would be fun to add some glitter and shamrock confetti that I had.
As we were playing, my kids were trying to pick out all of the shamrocks. I got out some magnifying glasses and tweezers to help them excavate their treasures, which really added to their interest. My kids were occupied for SO LONG! It was great!! It can be used with various age groups. I’d say preschool through 2nd grade.
The next year I used this activity at one of the stations for the St. Patrick lesson. The little ones also loved this activity! As the children were playing I went around and asked them to tell me about the Holy Trinity and why we were talking about shamrocks to reiterate their learning.
When using this in the classroom, you can purchase plastic tweezers, so that young children cannot hurt themselves with it. Also, have plastic magnifying glasses, if you have hard floors in the classroom just in case one drops.
Digging for the Trinity
Another fun activity that you could do at home or at Sunday School is having a sensory bin. It is a bin full of little things, like rice or beans or anything to dig in that can be easily swept up. It might seem messy but it is not that bad, if you establish some rules first. I made my bin with two big plastic containers. From my experience, you will want both containers so that the one with the fun stuff is not on the floor. If it is on the ground, the mess is more likely to get on the floor.
Another bonus is that you can put all your supplies in the bottom. It made my life so much easier when transporting stuff to church.
I went to the dollar store and purchased many different shamrock and green things.
Have some egg cartons or muffin pans for sorting. This is an important math skill that the children will learn in preschool & kindergarten. It’s so much fun for the kids to see which object they can find the most of. After sorting the children can count how many of an item they found.
To encourage the children to think about the Holy Trinity, I also hid a couple of objects in the bin that they had to find. 🙂 They loved this challenge!
Sensory Bin Tips
- I have a big vinyl table cloth that I put down in case anything gets on the floor, we can easily sweep it up.
- Have a dedicated small broom and dustpan that is only used for the sensory bin clean up on the tablecloth. This will keep it clean. If you use it to clean other things and then clean up the stuff from the bin, it will get dirty. If anyone makes a big mess, the have to help clean it up.
- You have to establish sensory bin rules. Kids need to be reminded to keep the items inside the bin. Show them how to play with it nicely. The stuff in the bin is NOT to leave the bin area or the tablecloth.
- Ask for a parent to help out on the day of the sensory bin so someone can monitor the kids.
- Be aware of kids with special needs and if this would be an activity that would be good for them or if it is something that might cause sensory overload.
Even if you aren’t comfortable using this in the classroom, try it at home with your kids! It’s so much fun!! Have you tried it? Let me know how it went!