Use St. Patrick’s Day as an opportunity to fit a lesson on Irish economy and agriculture into a fun craft art activity. As your children make their own Irish potato prints they will learn about stamp art and how a stamp works and you can also tell them about Ireland’s history as a leader on potato growing, the Irish famine and current economical facts.
First, gather several large Irish potatoes for your children’s craft projects. Cut each potato in half. Now, use the knife to draw a shape on the potato. For example, draw the outline of a shamrock. Use a melon baller, fruit peeler and the knife to scoop out potato meat from around the shape. You want to make a stamp so the shape is the tallest part left on the potato.
Let your children direct you in what shapes to make. Older children (middle school and high school students) may cut their own stamps but only under supervision.
Prepare a work space for the Irish potato printing by laying down newspapers or plastic table cloths. Place a dollap of paint on wax paper. Give each child a large piece of craft paper or construction paper. Also be sure to give kids craft aprons to protect clothes from paint spills.
Show them how to press the potato stamp into the paint and then against the paper to make a stamp. Use paper towels to wipe excess paint off the potato between printing. You can teach children about mixing colors by dipping the Irish potato stamp into red and then blue to make a purple print.
Ideas for Irish potato print shapes include stars, hearts, shamrocks (four leaf and three leaf clovers), leprechaun hats, pots, clouds and Irish harps. Or make a potato for each letter in your child’s name so they can make an Irish potato print sign for their room or desk.
Or make a series of shapes with the Irish potatoes. Work on your own piece of paper and make a pattern using the Irish potato stamps. Let your children try to mimic the pattern so they learn about patterns and repeating.
Talk to your children about the history of Ireland and St. Patrick’s Day as they work on their Irish potato printings. Information on the Irish Potato Famine can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_Potato_Famine
Encourage them to tell you what their favorite dishes are using potatoes. Describe how a potato grows by rooting from the eyes in the peelings instead of seeds. St. Patrick’s Day offers many learning opportunities for children whether you use this as a lesson at school or a special holiday activity at home.