Put a “Wee Bit o’ Irish” in Your Homeschool

Put a "Wee Bit o' Irish in Your HomeschoolDo you know that Irish descendents compose the second largest ancestral group in America? Because of Ireland's vast impact on history in America and the world, Irish studies are valuable for children of all grades. While you may not even have a "wee bit o' Irish" in you, there are many creative ways to incorporate St. Patrick's Day in your homeschool lessons this month in addition to wearing green on March 17.

Family and Consumer Science
For a truly authentic approach to a St. Patrick's Day dinner, skip the corned beef and cabbage, which is actually an American dish, and try this delicious Irish Lamb Stew for your homeschooling family instead.

1 pound cubed lamb meat
1 large onion, halved and sliced
1 pound potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
1 large stalk celery, sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (save 1 tablespoon for garnish)
1-2 teaspoons rosemary (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 to 3 garlic cloves, pressed (optional)
2 cups beef stock

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

2. Layer the lamb meat, onion, potatoes, carrot, and celery in an oven-proof pot or casserole dish. Season each layer with parsley, salt, and pepper as you go. Add garlic and rosemary if desired. Pour in the beef stock and cover tightly.

3. Bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until vegetables and meat are tender. Divide into bowls and garnish with additional parsley. Thicken gravy with cornstarch if needed.

When you think of Irish music, traditional ballads or the popular Riverdance touring show probably come to mind. However, the Irish are famous for developing the narrative and adding lyrics with musical instruments, and Ireland is the only nation with a musical instrument (the Celtic harp) as a national emblem.

Here are some ideas to celebrate Irish harp music:

Watch Celtic harp videos.
Teach your homeschooler the parts of the harp.

The Book of Kells shows the lavishly decorated text that opens the Gospel of John. (Source: Wikipedia)
The Book of Kells shows the lavishly decorated text that opens the Gospel of John. (Source: Wikipedia)

Fine Arts
The Irish have influenced art throughout the ages. Many art symbols go back to the Celtic ages and also display Christianity's influence. Made by monks around 800 A.D., the Book of Kells is a famous example of Celtic art. This illustrated book contains the four Gospels of the New Testament in Latin and is an amazing example of calligraphy, iconography, and Celtic motifs.

Read about the Book of Kells.
Make your own calligraphy.

Language Arts
The Irish have many famous authors, poets, and playwrights. With one of the oldest literatures in Western Europe, Irish writing began as Latin inscriptions. Ireland's native tongue, Gaelic, is still widely spoken and taught on the Emerald Isle, along with the English language. Modern writings cover a wide range of subjects and genres that appeal to readers of all ages.

Elementary Reading
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift

High School Reading
Dubliners by James Joyce
The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
The Collected Poems of William Butler Yeats

Physical Fitness
The Irish have a long history of sports. Popular team sports include soccer, Gaelic football, rugby, and a distinctly Irish game called hurling. Despite its comical name associations to Americans, hurling is an ancient game of Gaelic origin that has been played for over 3,000 years. Similar to lacrosse, hurling involves two teams who use wooden sticks called hurleys. The game is centered around short-range passing by hand, stick, or kicking to get a small ball above or below the opponents' goal posts, guarded by goal keepers.

Read the rules of hurling.

Try hurling with your family or homeschool co-op! You can improvise by using hockey sticks, a tennis ball, and a local soccer field.

Share your own Irish-themed lesson plans in the comment field below.

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