The Science Behind Leprechauns {Freebie and Unit}

A leprechaun evokes mystery, elicits excitement and can be a remarkable cross curricular topic in a primary classroom! A leprechaun is a tiny fairy in Irish Folklore. It usually depicts a mischievous little man with a beard, top hat and coat. When reading various texts about leprechauns, a theme of shoes, shamrocks, gold and rainbows are a constant. If caught, a leprechaun has magical powers to grant three wishes. However, this evasive fairy-like man rarely appears, making it challenging to capture.



The month of March is packed full of excitement with limited time. A primary teacher is a master at balance. Bring on Seuss Week, Leprechaun Labs, Easter Excitement and Spring Break. This past week we dove into everything leprechauns! I'd been tinkering around with ideas for weeks and was instantly inspired by a simple post on Twitter. Steve Spangler featured a Leprechaun Science Kit. Intrigued, I linked over to his site and found a 45 minute instructional video about his kit and promptly purchased. I will enlighten you more about this in a minute...

Eliciting Excitement

Developing a theme begins with setting the stage. My first thought was rainbows! With spring only days away, I decided to send home a project for parents to collaborate with their child. Rainbow Namebows was created by Reagan Tunstall. This project provides practice with adjectives and acrostic poetry. Students were to create a word that describes themselves starting with the letters of their name. At the time that I sent home this project, I mentioned that we were going to be learning about leprechauns, possibly trying to catch one of our own. I asked, "What do you think we might need to catch a leprechaun?" It only took two guesses to answer; gold and rainbows. What if we were to hang a personal rainbow above each desk... What could happen? Oh the excitement was beginning to build. I wasn't surprised when every take-home project returned the following day. 




I'm all about simplicity in theme design. The impact of the Rainbow Namebows hanging throughout the classroom will elicit all the excitement needed. However, I found few additional decor items at Party City and knew that it would be a hit. I'm aware many schools will not allow hanging resources from the ceiling. An alternative idea would be to create a bulletin display with the rainbows as if they're falling into a pot of gold.


You can snag a pack of rainbow strips of paper at Party City for $2. I only needed two packs to create my class set of rainbows. It's a cheap alternative to buying the rainbow spectrum for this price in regular copy paper.  

I started thinking last weekend about all the leprechaun stories published. We were going to delve into the tricky magic of leprechauns in science so to bring balance into my day, I decided to teach an adorable fable that shows a stark contrast of this fairy-like, mystical man. I highly recommend the story, A Fine St. Patrick's Day.


Each year the rival towns of Tralah and Tralee compete to see who will win the trophy for the annual St. Patrick's Day decorating contest, and each year Tralah wins. This year, Fiona Riley has a decorating idea that is sure to help Tralee finally claim victory, but when a stranger comes seeking help to rescue his cattle, the people in both towns have to reevaluate what is most important in life. 

Click the image above to access the file.

Click the graphic above to see all contents of this packet.

Monday through Wednesday, I used above companion to develop comprehension based on our topic of leprechauns! The unit provided an artifact of our learning and helped develop schema.



On Thursday and Friday, I transitioned to the story above about a very mischievous leprechaun who is more than elusive and loves to taunt the reader in creating the perfect trap. How to Catch a Leprechaun is not only an engaging text but the illustrations are vibrant and enchanting!

When watching the Steve Spangler's science video (mentioned below), I sketched an image of a trap he featured in his opening segment.


Nothing fancy, just a sketch! I used this image to develop a question and identify the supplies needed. I promptly gathered the materials and placed them in the center of the rug.


To ensure student ownership, I turned over the supplies and allowed the kids to collaborate. Ultimately, my students decided to modify the sketched plan. They decided to build the trap with an automatic pulley that dropped when a hat was snagged off the pot of gold. Since we were going to be outside for recess, the kids felt we might miss the little fella. The discussions were meaningful and the enthusiasm was high.


Prior to building a trap collaboratively, I had the kids visualize their own trap.  They explained their vision with a procedural paper. Writing isn't nearly as fun without a little art. Since we are planning a craft with rainbows, I knew a directed drawing (a freebie from First Grade Blue Skies) would allow for individuality during our STEAM discoveries.





By the end of the week, we had learned about Ireland, Leprechauns, Fables and Procedural Writing. Now it's time to bring on Leprechaun Science.  Just the thought of cross linking chemicals to produce a reaction made me giddy. Many of the science explorations provided in Steve Spangler's Science Kit supports our previous learning of matter in January! We'd spent weeks reading, writing and experimenting with various forms of matter. The kid's informational papers were filled with text features and written independently.  It's was more than exciting making connections and extending our learning from one topic to the next.










The science behind leprechauns was intriguing and might possibly be my favorite images of the school year. All the excitement captured will be lasting memories. So, what elicited the excitement? Just look at the kit below...

Steve Spangler exposes a few Leprechaun Secrets. He helps to uncover hidden rainbows, experience the magic of color changing beads and how Leprechauns create green worms for the fish they eat. We learned how to inflate an eight foot long leprechaun sandwich bag with one breath of air, the magic of creating snow and the trick behind hiding leprechaun eggs in water. These activities will absolutely engage any young scientist.

The kit comes with supplies that can be used more than one year. Each of the materials are available for individual purchase on Steve Spangler's website, making refilling consumable supplies as easy as a pinch. I've thoroughly enjoyed reading his blog posts. I'm fairly certain I watched his video three times. The first time I was sold. The second time I planned my lessons for the week. The third time I took notes on the story and science behind the investigation.

We started with diffraction grating using the rainbow glasses. The idea of rainbows all around us made the kids giddy. Understanding the science helped the kids expand their already acquired schema on the rainbow spectrum. For skills practice and an additional art project, students investigated the rainbow spectrum, identified the colors, shared the pen to list objects in each color, and created a ROY G. BIV craft with a fluency page.






If you are interested in this freebie file, you can click the graphic above.

 
Roy G Biv from Primary Graffiti on Vimeo.

Do you know where leprechauns live? Yes, Ireland! But, is Ireland the only place they live? NO! Leprechauns live in Alaska, too! If you don't believe me, just watch... I was given some snow to prove to you they live all over the world.




Do you know what a leprechaun eats? Sure, potatoes and meat are a huge part of their diet but they LOVE green fish. Did you know the only way to catch a green fish is to use a green worm? Leprechaun's are the master of making their own bait. Just watch...



Okay that's cool but they're not green so with a sprinkle of magic...



However, the most magnificent reaction of all came when we discovered how leprechauns hide their eggs in plain sight. I began with a container of water; nothing more, nothing less.  Or so they think! I then asked that a volunteer check the water temperature to make sure it's comfortable for eggs to be placed inside. Once their hand dipped down inside the water, the reaction was priceless...





So what was in the water...


To share what they couldn't see, I added a little food coloring and gave them a glimpse!


After the initial shock wore off and the science was discussed, we created a video hiding the eggs in water and revealing the eggs by removing the water from the jar.



Leprechaun Eggs from Primary Graffiti on Vimeo.

We had a remarkable week with lasting memories. Just a little side note, I wasn't compensated for creating this blog post. I stumbled across the kit on social media and knew it would be a hit. I spent time developing how I wanted to implement our cross curricular learning for the week and was pleasantly surprised at the overall outcome. I hope you are inspired with a take-away from this post on how to implement your own STEAM week!

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6 comments:

Cecilia Bartram said...

It looks like you had an awesome week. Happy Spring!!

Rachel Lamb said...

Holy Moly Cheryl! This is amazing! I'll definitely get the kit for next year!!! I'll see what I can pull off this year without it! Thank you do much for sharing all these amazing ideas!
Rachel

Lory's Page said...

You are so cute Cheryl... fabulous ideas!!
Lory

Mrs. Saoud said...

Thank you Cecilia! Happy Spring to you!!!!

Mrs. Saoud said...

Thank you, Rachel! That's means so much to me! You won't be disappointed with the kit!

Mrs. Saoud said...

Lory, so are you!!! Thank you!!!