Happy St. Patty’s Day and Top o’ the Morning to You! St. Patrick’s Day is here and I am thinking about rituals as play—both in our homes and schools.
St. Patrick’s Day is not the biggest of celebrations in my family, but there are many celebrations—large and small that we embrace as a way to play and to have fun. St. Patrick’s Day is one of them—although on a smaller scale. Our ritual today is a food ritual—my family is making Rueben sandwiches and eating Irish cheese to celebrate the day. I will add a bit of Bailey’s Irish Crème to my coffee in the evening for a Top o’ the Evening toast. When my children were younger I created leprechaun hunts and more elaborate rituals. That has waned through the years, with other holidays and family moments housing stronger play rituals for us. Still, in a small way the clovers and green live in our house. For other families, rituals on this day are very important. Whether the rituals are large or small these rituals add playfulness to family life.
The kindergarten teachers in one of the schools that I support have been busily planning learning connected to fun for the children around St. Patty’s Day. These teachers believe that play is an important part of learning. They create ways to embed fun activities within instructional goals. In everyday activities they have developed a play space that incorporates learning challenges in such a way that learning happens through play every day. Tomorrow is St. Patty’s day, and the learning will occur with St. Patrick’s Day in mind. Adding moments of magic and leprechauns create an environment of fun that enhances learning when done with thought. Protecting fun within learning supports creating some rituals as classroom celebrations. Rigor and strong instruction are absolutely necessary. The best teachers I know couple strong instruction with play and ritual. Instruction happens most naturally for young children—and older children alike—through play. Creating fun also creates memories. I do not know of a child that remembers the lesson on how to answer a test prep question. But remembering the day that the leprechaun visited the kindergarten classroom and asked the class went on a learning scavenger hunt to find treasure at the end of the rainbow—well that is something that for many will be long remembered. This kind of ritual fun builds a classroom community.
Rituals and fun prevail in families and in schools on St. Patrick’s Day and on many days across the year. How are you celebrating St. Patrick’s Day today? Do you have other rituals your family or class celebrates?
Happy St. Patty’s Day to all who celebrate in both large and small ways. May the luck of the Irish be with you!
PLAY-TITUDE #16: Ritual creates fun and memories. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
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