St. Patrick’s Day is a fun holiday to celebrate in preschool. What with rainbows, shamrocks, pots of gold, and mischievous leprechauns, what’s not to like? Add these five St. Patrick’s Day math activities to your preschool lesson plans this March.
St. Patrick’s Day Math Activities for Preschoolers
At our house, we call St. Patrick’s Day the “green holiday,” where we celebrate all things the color green.
When my oldest son was preschool aged, he loved the color green. He wanted green pancakes and eggs on Sundays and green oatmeal the rest of the week.
He would insist on having a green sippy cup, not blue or red or purple. His bedspread was (and still is) green, as well as his favorite T-shirts…no matter the image on the front. He even wanted us to paint our house green. The kid was obsessed!
So when St. Patrick’s Day would roll around, we had to celebrate.
FAQ About Teaching St. Patrick’s Day to Preschoolers
What’s the point of St. Patrick’s Day anyway? Is that what you’re thinking? Let me give you a little background that will help make this holiday even more special for your preschoolers.
For preschoolers, St. Patrick’s Day is mostly a silly holiday that celebrates the color green, rainbows, pots of gold, and mischievous leprechauns.
St. Patrick’s Day is on March 17th and has become the day when people around the world celebrate Irish culture. Saint Patrick is the Catholic patron saint of Ireland and is often associated with icons of Ireland such as the shamrock and the color green.
The leprechaun is a small Irish fairy who dresses like a shoemaker. Despite recent commercialism, leprechauns are unfriendly little men who live alone in the forest. There are no female leprechauns. They spend their time making shoes and guarding their gold treasures. If you catch a leprechaun, he’ll be forced to tell you where he hides his pots of gold.
Many might think that Ireland is associated with the color green because of its lush, vibrant, green, grassy hills…but really the color green has more to do with politics than anything. The colors of the Irish flag are green, white and orange; the green symbolizes Irish nationalism, the orange symbolizes the Orangemen of the north, and the white symbolizes peace. [source]
Get Printable St. Patrick’s Day Preschool Centers
Looking for something to help teach your preschoolers about rainbows, leprechauns and gold coins, as well as letters and numbers?! This St. Patrick’s Day Activity Pack includes six super fun activities and multiple variations of each!
Hands-on St. Patrick’s Day Preschool Math Activities
The preschool activities for St. Patrick’s Day featured in this post will cover all five disciplines of math. This way you have a wide range of activities to teach your preschoolers.
Please note that this post includes hands-on activities that you can make with items from the dollar store, but it’s also been updated to include a printable for one of the activities.
Be sure to grab your free St. Patrick’s Day printable from the end of this post.
Pot O’ Gold Counting – Number Sense
Grab some black foam sheets and cut out some basic pots to make up to 20 “pots of gold.” Label each one with numerals leading up to the target number using a white paint marker. (For a more tactile approach you can also use liquid glue; add a little white paint to the glue and it’ll show up really well.) Invite your child to count out the corresponding number of gold coins for each numeral.
Lining up the pots in numerical order helps preschoolers learn number identification and number sequencing. Adding the gold coins under the printable pots of gold helps preschoolers visualize how quantities increase in size.
You can also use plastic cauldrons from the dollar store for additional counting. Have your preschooler draw a gold pot card and count out the corresponding number as shown in the picture above. Then count the coins a second time while dropping them into the pot.
Shamrock Size Sequencing – Measurement
Here I used a basic shamrock template from the internet to trace and cut shamrocks out of felt. Make sure to cut a few different sizes; I did five. If you have a young preschooler or a toddler, then you may want to start with three. Mix up the shamrocks and invite you preschoolers to put them in order from largest to smallest, or vice versa.
These are not automatic skills. Just because your preschooler can order from largest to smallest doesn’t necessarily mean he or she can do it the opposite way also. Practice both ways.
You can also challenge your preschooler to order the shamrocks by size by having him or her stack them on top of one another.
Alternatively, your preschooler can line them up in a “tower.”
Sorting Shamrocks – Algebra
I grabbed these super cute, patterned bulletin board shamrocks years ago, but we’ve been using them like crazy in preschool. Since the patterns are a little similar, sorting them is a bit challenging. Scatter them on the table or floor at circle time and invite your preschooler to sort them.
Graphing Shamrocks – Data Analysis
Sorting activities are always a great lead into graphing, which is how we used the above activity. Don’t forget that discussion is an important learning feature in graphing! Invite your preschoolers to tell you what they see in the graph. Which kind of shamrock has the most, or the least?
***Don’t forget to grab your free printable at the end of this post.***
Estimating Gold Coins – Data Analysis and Probability
This was a new activity for my preschoolers. Fold a sheet of black felt in half and cut a basic pot shape from it, with the bottom of the pot being the fold. Then hot glue the sides together to make a pocket. Hot glue a question mark on the front, then secretly place a few gold coins in the pocket.
Invite your child to place their hand inside the pot of gold pocket and count (without looking) the number of gold coins in the pouch. This is an activity that will teach estimation. While your preschooler feels for the coins, help them make appropriate guesses.
Could there really be 100 gold coins in the pot? Probably not. But could there be five? Absolutely!
Don’t Forget Fun St. Patrick’s Day Manipulatives
The supplies listed in this post are readily found at just about any dollar store, but for your convenience, I’ve added some links if you’d rather order them online.
How About Some St. Patrick’s Day Picture Books?
I love reading stories to my preschoolers, even for a math theme, and especially for St. Patrick’s Day. Here are my go-to picture books for our favorite green holiday.
Get Your Free Gold Coin Number Pots Here
Add these gold coin number pots to your St. Patrick’s Day lesson plans. These are just some of many great math activities you can do with them. Click the image below to grab your own copy.
More St. Patrick’s Day Themed Activities
During the month of March, it’s fun to cram in as much St. Patrick’s Day themed math before the holiday passes. Consider trying some of these other fun and engaging math centers and math games and add them to your St. Patrick’s Day lesson plans.
I’m Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home-mama of five! I’m the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught a range of levels, from preschool to college and a little bit of everything in between. Right now my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction.