March into Fun: Magic, Math, and Leprechauns

Stories of leprechauns, rainbows, pots of golds, 3 wishes, and magical powers are especially appealing to children because kids are also little people. So much of their lives is controlled by adults that children feel they have no power at all. This idea is suggested in many stories where the children get swallowed up. Leprechauns, despite their small size, can do magic and that is a deeply-held wish of kids.

There are many books and stories about leprechauns and other Irish traditions and folklore. Who else likes gold besides leprechauns? Pirates, of course, and Master Anonymous writes about their adventures in The Pirates and the Leprechaun.

The Wishing of Biddy MaloneOne of my favorite stories is The Wishing of Biddy Malone by Joy Cowley. Her signature in the book reminds me of the treasure of our shared experience. Biddy Malone thinks she has been granted three wishes but has to work long and hard for them to come true. She learns how her own effort creates the treasure.

Besides tricks and pots of gold, there are stories about rainbows, potatoes, shamrocks and even Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss.

Leprechauns can do magic with their gold and so can kids. Another name for this kind of magic is math. Since we don’t have piles of gold around the house, we can use buttons, coins, or even cheerios.

  • St. Patrick's Day math activityFor younger kids the magic is turning one thing into more and more and more. First, find 10 of something, such as buttons. Take one button from your hand, show your child and say “Here is one button. Take another and say “Here is one button,” again. Keep doing, spreaing the buttons out.

Here comes the magic. Even though each time there was one button, all together there are many more. Slide the buttons into a line and, with your child, count each one. Now, there are 10 buttons. Lots of ones made ten. One here, and one there, and another one over here and so on all made ten. That’s magic. It’s also called number sense where kids figure out that each number means one thing.

  • For older kids, you can do magic when counting by twos. Put buttons or other items in groups of two. To count, you only need to say one number but you count two things.
  • Using a few more of whatever you are counting, you can show your child how to count by 5 or even by 10.

There’s a video below of a leprechaun counting gold by ones, twos, fives, and tens along with a song. Maybe that’s the treasure at the end of the rainbow, that kids can do their own magic?

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