Saturday, March 17, 2012

St. Patrick's Day and Family Heritage

Believe it or not, this is my third post this week about St. Patrick's Day! I'm thinking I must really like St. Patrick's Day!

Well, I do! Can you tell by the way I dressed for school yesterday? (Pay close attention to the green toenails and the green sandals... in March!)

Well, I think the kids had a good time yesterday, and I think they learned something, too! We've spent a few days talking about how our country is made up of people from many other countries. (E Pluribus Unum means "one out of many"!) I was surprised to find that most of the children had no idea what countries their ancestors came from.

By the way, I'm Irish and Polish. My Dad's family came from Poland and my mother's family came from Ireland.  My students enjoyed hearing my family history. They loved hearing about how my grandmother left Poland at a young age, got on a boat, and came to America. They thought it was cool that the first thing she saw in America was probably the Statue of Liberty. Of course, as I was talking, I was showing them on the map where my family came from in Europe and how they crossed the Atlantic around the turn of last century before there were computers, Xbox or even many cars.

This is what my dad looked like when I was in high school!
My dad teased my mom about being Irish and teased the Irish in general. Ironically, exactly ten years ago today, he died on St. Patrick's Day. So this bittersweet memory is one of the other faces of St. Patrick's Day for me. But it's mostly about happy memories of my Dad.  My Dad was my hero. He was a very successful high school football coach. Not only did he win a lot, but he influenced a lot of high school boys in a very positive way. People still talk about him today, in fact, this fall, they named a street after my dad, down by the old football field where I grew up. See this post for details about that special day!

Besides talking about my family heritage, we watched videos of Irish dancing, listened to Irish music, wrote about leprechauns, played learning games with an Irish theme, and dressed in green. Oh yes, did I mention that I've been talking with an Irish accent for most of the week? (That theatrical background comes in handy in the classroom!)

We did have a little trouble with leprechauns. Somehow a leprechaun got in the classroom and changed the color of our morning letter. He also turned some of the desks around, and rearranged our class schedule. Apparently the leprechaun took the blame for a couple of other incidents I didn't even know about. We were grateful that the leprechaun stayed away from the bathroom this year, after all, last year he left glitter in the toilet. (The first grade teacher from that crew was thrilled to hear they remembered that!)

By the end of the week, one of my little ones told me that she was half Irish. She wasn't sure what the other side was. I'm still surprised that more children didn't know about their family history. Granted, after many generations, most of these children are a little bit of everything, but it's a great connection to history as well as learning about the map. (Brain research tells us that children remember better if they have a personal connection. What could be more personal than your family?)

What's your family heritage? Are you Irish, or only on St. Patrick's Day?

2 comments:

  1. Forget the toenails - tell me where you got that shirt?!?!? LOVE it and you are a cutie pie blogger girl, for sure!!!!! :)

    Holly
    Crisscross Applesauce in First Grade

    ReplyDelete
  2. Holly,
    Lol, I don't even remember where I got the shirt! Thanks so much!

    Sally

    ReplyDelete

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