Did you know St. Patrick wasn’t Irish? Or that he was kidnapped by pirates? Or that someone tried to poison him? I want to share lots of games, activities, songs, printables, a memory verse, and even a FREE lesson that you can use to share God’s love with kids in your home, church, or community by telling them the true story behind St. Patrick’s Day!
The real story of Saint Patrick is far more than good luck and leprechauns! Extraordinary legends surround the life of this remarkable missionary who preached the Gospel in Ireland during the fourth century. Teaching kids the REAL story of St. Patrick is my favorite part of St. Patrick’s Day! Here are some free resources to help you join me in sharing this incredible story with kids.
1. The Story of St. Patrick
Captured by pirates as a teen and sold as a slave in Ireland, Patrick found comfort and courage in God’s love and forgiveness. He was so transformed by God’s grace that after escaping from slavery, he returned to Ireland as a missionary. Though marked by incredible hardship, St. Patrick’s story provides children with an epic example of the transforming power of God’s undeserved love and forgiveness. Wouldn’t it be super handy if there were a fantastic resource available to help you share this remarkable story with kids? The full story is a bit long to include in this article (after all, I’m hoping you’ll actually read the entire thing), but it just so happens that you can download a free copy of “The Story of Saint Patrick” on our resource page that will help you tell the real story of St. Patrick to kids. Check out this video to learn more about who St. Patrick really was and how he shared God’s love with people in Ireland. (You’re welcome to share this video with kids in your home or church.)
2. Missions Moment for Kids
St. Patrick was a missionary so his story is a natural way to teach kids about missions. You can do this by sharing his story and then talking with kids about the missionaries you know and praying for them as they share God’s love with others. To help kids more fully understand the concept of what a missionary is, feel free to share the video below in your home or church. After the video, kids can discuss ways St. Patrick was similar to and different from the missionaries mentioned in the video.
3. Shamrock Search Bible Drills
Underline verses about God’s love in your Bible ahead of time and use a paper shamrock to bookmark each verse. Have children take turns choosing a bookmark and carefully opening your Bible to read the verse. After they read the verse, add up all the numbers in the scripture reference to discover how many points they win for their team. [Ex. 1 John 4:10 is worth 15 points because 1+4+10=15] Verse suggestions could include 1 John 4:10, Romans 8:39, John 3:16, Ephesians 3:19, Jeremiah 31:3, and Ephesians 5:2. (If you want to save yourself some effort preparing these bookmarks by simply click the picture below to download ready-to-go shamrock bookmarks for this game.)
4. St. Patrick’s Day Memory Verse
Since the story of St. Patrick emphasizes the sacrificial love and forgiveness of God, I think Romans 5:8 is a perfect memory verse to commemorate this holiday. You could teach it something like this…
Say: Did you know St. Patrick was kidnapped by pirates and taken to be a slave in Ireland when he was a teenager? When he finally escaped from slavery and returned home he couldn’t stop thinking about all the people in Ireland who needed to know about God’s love. Even though his own family thought he was crazy for loving people who had made him a slave, Patrick went back to Ireland as a missionary! The way Patrick showed love for the same people who made him a slave reminds me of God’s love for us. The Bible says God showed us love even when we were acting like His enemies. [Read Romans 5:8 out loud from your Bible.] This verse is a message from God. It means God, the King of the universe, loves us very much. He shows His love for us in a special way even though we are all sinners. We act like God’s enemies by disobeying His commands. Every time you lie, steal, or disrespect your parents you are sinning against God. God knows that you don’t deserve His love, but He shows it to you anyway. Christ Jesus is God’s perfect Son. He suffered and died on a cross to take the punishment we deserve for sin. Then He came back to life! This verse is a message for you from God. He wants you to know and believe that He showed His love for you by sending His only Son to take the punishment you deserve for your sin. If you have already believed this, thank God for showing you love even when you didn’t deserve it. Ask Him to help you love others. That’s what Patrick did and God can help you do it too. Many people celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by wearing green, so we’re going to use green clothes to help us learn this verse.
Do: Show pictures of green shoes, gloves, hats, and outfits then turn the pictures over and mix them up. Let the kids take turns choosing cards and leading the class in saying the verse according to the motion associated with the picture on the card. Shoes: Stomp your feet while saying the verse. Glove: Clap your hands while saying the verse. Hat: Nod your head while saying the verse. Outfit: Do all three previous motions while saying the verse.
If you like FREE stuff, you can download free instructions plus a printable visual and game pieces for this St. Patrick’s Day Memory Verse on our resource page.
5. Pot of Gold Game
This is a fun interactive game for St. Patrick’s Day. Use brightly colored paper to label four corners of the room each as a different color of the rainbow (red, yellow, green, and violet.) Show a picture of a pot of gold with rainbow colors on it and explain that Irish fairy tales include stories of leprechauns guarding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. (If you happen to be lacking a picture of gold and rainbows, just click the picture below to download and print this one.)
Tell the kids you will be the leprechaun guarding the gold and they have to try to stay away from the part of the rainbow you are guarding. Turn the pot of gold picture so the children can’t see and discretely point at one of the rainbow colors. Count to ten out loud (or play worship music) while each child chooses a corner and then reveal which color you chose ahead of time. All children standing in the corner that corresponds to that color are caught by the leprechaun and must sit down. Continue playing until most children have been eliminated then congratulate the winners and play again! (This game is also called “4 Corners” but now it has an Irish twist!)
Variation: Instead of having children be eliminated from the game when they get caught, you may desire to choose another option that will keep them engaged. For instance, you could have them freeze in place for only one round of the game or do a silly action such as hopping on one foot for the next round.
6. Searching Shepherds St. Patrick Game
St. Patrick spent six years as a slave in Ireland where he was forced to work as a shepherd. You can tell kids the story of St. Patrick (preferably using the “brilliantly well-written” Story of St. Patrick that I mentioned above…which includes review questions by the way…) and then use this game to review what you’ve learned. Write point values on white pieces of paper and crumple them into balls to make pretend “sheep.” Hide these paper “sheep” throughout the room ahead of time. As you begin this game, show the children one of the sheep and remind them Patrick spent six years as a shepherd. Explain that they will get to pretend to be shepherds looking for lost sheep. When a child answers a question about the story of St. Patrick (or a question about the Bible), he may find one “sheep” and open it to reveal how many points he wins for his team. (And, of course, the whole group has to say “Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!” every time someone finds a “sheep”) At the end of the game, the team with the most points wins.
7. St. Patrick Pictures Game
Write objects or characters related to St. Patrick’s Day on small pieces of paper and put them in a container ahead of time. After telling the story of St. Patrick, have the children take turns pulling papers from the container and drawing whatever is written on them while other children try to guess what they are drawing. If a child does not want to draw something, he may choose a leader to draw it for him. Objects the children could draw for St. Patrick Pictures could include: The beach, pirates, a boat, sheep, a shepherd, a Bible, a cross, a clover, a rainbow, or a pot of gold. If you have time, you could play another round by putting all the cards back in the container and having kids take turns grabbing cards and acting them out. (It’s super easy to prep for this game, but if you want it to be even more extra super easy, you can click and download the ready-made cards below.)
8. St. Patrick’s Day Songs
- My family really likes music by Keith and Kristyn Getty so I tend to play their music year-round, but it’s especially fun this time of year because a lot of their music has a Celtic feel to it and they have Irish accents. So, you may want to play that in the background while you do some of these activities with the kids.
- For a fun Irish riverdance song that will get kids up and moving, my kids and I love the song “Jehovah Knows Ya!” by Jeff Slaughter. It’s packed with lots of great truth about God’s love!
- If you choose to use the memory verse idea (Romans 5:8) that I mentioned earlier, you may also be interested in the song video below. It’s a great way to help kids memorize Romans 5:8!
Hopefully that’s enough ideas to get you started. (If you want more, you should totally check out the Story of St. Patrick digital download that I have now shamelessly promoted multiple times. It’s got even more ideas to help you plan purpose and meaning into your St. Patrick’s Day party.)
St. Patrick’s Day is a natural opportunity to enjoy Jesus with kids by celebrating God’s marvelous love and forgiveness. How do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with kids in your home, Sunday School, or wherever else you teach kids? I’d love to read your ideas in the comments. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!!