It’s time for the shamrock scramble, rainbow relay, and leprechaun tag! No, these aren’t the latest dance crazes, but rather the names of some fun St. Patrick’s Day games for kids. Play these and many more Irish games at your kids’ St. Patrick’s Day party or any celebration that calls for a green-wearing good time.
Who’s the Leprechaun?
Looking for some leprechaun games? “Who’s the Leprechaun?” is a fun choice. To play, choose one child to be “it” and send her out of the room. The rest of the kids choose one of them to be the leprechaun. Play some Celtic tunes and have the kids start dancing. The leprechaun chooses an Irish dance move and all the other players have to follow along and do the same move.
Bring the “it” player back to the room. She will observe the dancing and try to guess which player is the leprechaun. While she is observing, the leprechaun should randomly change the dance moves. It is up to the other kids keep an eye on the leprechaun and quickly change their dance moves as he does without letting on which player is leading.
When the guessing player correctly identifies the leprechaun, she gets to choose the next person to be sent out of the room as the guesser.
Since leprechauns are always searching for gold, gather your party guests and send them on a gold hunt of their own. Hide several gold coins (you can use chocolate gold coins, toy coins or even pennies) around the party space.
Divide guests into two teams. Give each team a pail and send them on a hunt to find as much “gold” as possible in two minutes (you can set the time for longer if you have hidden a lot of coins or have a large area to search). When time is up, have the teams count the coins in their pails. The team with the most coins wins.
To prepare for the Shamrock Scramble game, cut out the shapes of four large shamrocks from green poster board (they should be large enough for a few kids to be able to stand on at once). Tape one shamrock in each corner of the room.
Play some Irish music and have the kids dance while it plays. Stop the music randomly. When the music stops, the kids must scramble to stand on one of the shamrocks. The last player to get on a shamrock is out of the game. Play continues like this until only one player remains.
Here’s another fun leprechaun game for kids! To play, you will need a cardboard box that is large enough for kids to crawl through. Open all of the box flaps and place the box on the floor so that the open ends form a sort of tunnel.
As music plays, have the kids form a line and crawl through the box, one after another. When the music stops, the child at the front and the child at the back of the box will close the flaps, trapping the leprechaun (player still inside of the box). That player is then out of the game, which continues until one player is left without being caught.
Gold Coin Toss
For this game, you’ll need a few Leprechaun pots (you can find these at dollar stores or craft stores, make your own, or simply use pails, bowls or overturned leprechaun hats). Place them on the floor and then draw a line a few feet away from the pots.
Have players stand behind the line and attempt to toss gold coins into the pots. Score a point for each time a player gets one in. You can then award prizes based on the amounts of points scored.
In this game, the kids are divided into leprechauns and fairies with one player being “it.” The “it” player must trap a leprechaun by tagging him. Like freeze tag, when a leprechaun is tagged, he must freeze in place. The fairies can set a leprechaun free by tagging him. If a fairy is tagged while trying to free a leprechaun, however, she is also caught and must trade places with the player who is “it.”
This game has teams racing to see who can be the first to create a rainbow. Divide guests into two teams. Hand a roll of different colored crepe paper to each player. To start the game, the first players in line must run across the room (or yard), unrolling her streamer as she goes. When she returns to her team, the next player will run the same course, unrolling his streamer over hers. The first team to complete their rainbow wins the race.
Gold Coin Pitch
To play this St. Patrick’s Day game, draw a rainbow on a piece of poster board. Place the rainbow poster on the floor and have kids stand a few feet away from it. One at a time, have them pitch coins, trying to land them as close as possible to the end of the rainbow. If a player gets close, the next player may try to knock that player’s coin away from the rainbow’s end. When everyone has had a turn, the player whose coin is closest to the desired spot wins.
Pot of Gold Relay
In this game, teams race to see who can be the first to fill their pot with gold. To play, divide players into two teams. Place one pot at the starting line for each team. Several feet away from the starting line, fill two more pots with gold coins or butterscotch candy.
Line the kids up, and when you signal the start of the race, the first players in line must run and retrieve one piece of gold from the full pot and bring it back and put it in the empty pot. The remaining players in line must then do the same, repeating the cycle until one team has transferred all of its gold from one pot to the other.
To make this game more interesting, you can also make them carry the gold by the spoonful.
This game is played just the same as traditional hopscotch. The hopscotch board, however, is made up of shamrocks instead of boxes, and a gold coin is used in place of a rock.
To play this game, you’ll need two leprechaun costumes. You can make these up out of clothes you have around the house or purchase items from a costume shop. You can also just use green clothing and leprechaun hats.
Divide your players into two teams and hand the leprechaun outfits to the first players in line. When you signal the start of the race, those players must put on the leprechaun clothes, run an obstacle course and return to their teams. They must then take off the leprechaun costumes and pass them to the next players in line, who have to also put the costumes on and run the course. This process continues until all players have worn the costume and run the relay. The first team to have all of its players complete the leprechaun relay wins.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Many cities celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a parade. Supply the kids with some props and costume pieces so that they can have a parade of their own, right in your home, backyard or even through the neighborhood. Some ideas for props include:
Leprechaun and Irish fairy costumes
Toy musical instruments
Cardboard boxes they can decorate and wear as “floats”
Create your own Bingo cards with the word “Lucky” printed across the top. In the other boxes, you can put clip art images or phrases associated with St. Patrick’s Day and Ireland. Make sure you mix up the order of the box fillers each time you create a new card.
Print several extra cards from which to cut out the boxes and place them in a leprechaun’s hat. Pull the boxes, one at a time, from the hat and call out what is printed on each one. Guests will mark their matching boxes with pieces of shamrock confetti.
Players who get five matches in a row call out, “Lucky!” and win a prize.
Put on some Irish music let the kids show off their best attempts at Irish dancing. You could even hire a dance instructor to teach them how to do certain steps, watch videos of Irish dancers for inspiration or let them just follow the music and make up their own jigs.
Build an Irish Cottage
This St. Patrick’s Day party activity has guests decorating their very own Irish cottage. You’ll need a large cardboard box, from which you’ve already cut out windows and a door. Supply the kids with a variety of decorating supplies such as paint, markers, stickers, green streamers, and a shamrock garland. You can even give them a cardboard cutout of a signpost so they can give their cottage a name.
Play a traditional Irish jig music and have the kids dance along. Stop the music at random times. When the music stops, the kids must stop jigging and freeze in place. The last player to freeze is out of the game. Play continues until only one child remains on the dance floor.
Wearing of the Green
When you invite guests to your St. Patrick’s Day party, make sure to tell them to come dressed in green. Gather the players in a circle and hand one kid a white t-shirt. Set a timer or play Irish music.
The player with the shirt must put it on and take it off as quickly as possible and then pass it to the person on her left. That player also must put on the shirt, take it off and pass it on. When the timer rings (or the music stops), the player who is caught wearing the white shirt is out. The game then continues like this until only one player is left.
In addition to games, you can give 3D cards with symbols of St. Patrick’s Day such as a green hat, green beer mug, clover…
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