Number one for English language teachers

Webquest: St Patrick's Day

What is the history of St Patrick’s Day, and who was he? Find the answers in this webquest, and learn about how 17th March is celebrated around the world.

St Patrick's day banner

On the 17th March, the whole world becomes Irish. It’s the day we celebrate St Patrick’s Day in honour of Ireland’s patron saint. But who was St Patrick? And how do we celebrate his day?

Activity 1: Who was St Patrick?

Visit this site: www.history.com/topics/st-patricks-day/who-was-saint-patrick. Read the article and look for the answers to these questions. Share your answers with your classmates.

  1. Where and when was St Patrick born?
  2. When did he die?
  3. What happened to him when he was 16?
  4. How long was he kept as a prisoner?
  5. What did Patrick work as?
  6. How far did Patrick walk from County Mayo?
  7. What, according to the legend, did the angel say to Patrick in his dream?
  8. How long did Patrick’s religious training last?
  9. What were Patrick’s two objectives on his return to Ireland?
  10. In what way does his mission contradict the common notion about St Patrick?
  11. What is the Celtic cross?
  12. What religion did most Irish people practise at this time?

Using questions 112 above, now finish the biography about St Patrick below in your own words.

St Patrick was born in … around … He is believed to have died on …

Activity 2: What is the history of St Patrick’s Day?

Visit this site: history1800s.about.com/od/entertainmentsport/a/stpatparade.htm. Read the article, then complete the following sentences.

  •   The first recorded St Patrick’s Day parade happened in _______________ (1) in the year _______________ (2).
  • In New York, St Patrick’s Day celebrations from 1784 onwards involved the playing of fifes and _______________ (3) and a _______________ (4) was held in Manhattan.
  • In the 1800s, the Irish population of New York increased because of the _______________ (5) so there were more St Patrick’s Day celebrations.
  • However, the newspapers reported stories of _______________ (6) and so there were efforts to make the celebrations more respectable.
  • The parade today has hardly changed since the _______________ (7). Other American _______________ (8), as well as Dublin in Ireland, now also hold large parades.

Activity 3: St Patrick’s Day traditions

St Patrick’s Day is celebrated all over the world and is well known for a number of its traditions. Visit the following site to find the answers to the questions below: www.history.com/topics/st-patricks-day/st-patricks-day-symbols-and-traditions.

  1. Which Irish symbol is also known as the ’seamroy’?
  2. Why was the shamrock a sacred plant in ancient Ireland?
  3. What was outlawed by the English?
  4. Who ordered that all artists and pipers should be arrested?
  5. Which traditional Irish instruments are mentioned?
  6. According to the legend, what did St Patrick banish from Ireland?
  7. What was this a metaphor for?
  8. What is the traditional St Patrick’s Day meal?
  9. Where was corned beef substituted for Irish bacon?
  10. What does the original Irish name for leprechaun mean?
  11. How were leprechauns described in Celtic folklore?

Now, summarize for the class what you have learnt about St Patrick’s Day symbols and traditions.

Activity 4: St. Patrick’s Day collage

Have you ever made a collage? Collage is an art form in which the artist takes a number of images and/or words and puts them together on a piece of paper, in a frame or on a screen.

Usually, you cut and paste images and sentences from magazines, but you can also make collages on your computer. All you need is a word processing program, PowerPoint, or a website editing program (like WIX).

In this activity, you will make a collage about St Patrick’s Day. How would you like to celebrate that day? Let your collage reflect how you would like to celebrate it.

Start by searching for images that you can include. Try searching Google Images for images related to St Patrick’s Day, Ireland, leprechauns, shamrocks and anything else you feel might help you celebrate! When you see an image or read a sentence you like, save it in your computer. For images, just put the cursor over the image you are interested in and click with your right mouse button if you are using a PC or double click if you have a MAC. Choose ‘Save’ and decide where you want to save the image. For words or sentences, just select the text and copy it onto a document in a word processing program.

As soon as you have a collection of images, open the program you will use to make your collage and paste images wherever you want on the page. You can also add words and sentences if you want. You can edit the images using a photo-editing program and you can edit the sentences in your word processing program (change the size, the font, the colour).

When you finish making your collage, share it with your classmates and explain why it represents your personal view of St Patrick’s Day.

Extra activities

1. Search the internet to find a free St Patrick’s Day card to send to your friends or teacher.

2. Do you like cooking? Search for some traditional Irish recipes. Are they very different from your country’s dishes?

3. Would you like to know more about St Patrick? Visit the Saint Patrick Centre online: www.saintpatrickcentre.com/. The Centre offers an interpretative exhibition that tells the story of Ireland’s patron saint.

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Readers' comments (6)

  • The links provided for Activities 1 and 3 are excellent. They information is interesting and very digestible.
    The questions for Activity 2 are very well-written and the missing information is easy to find. Unfortunately, the text is not particularly interesting or easy to read.

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  • Excellent work, thank you!

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  • Thanks for posting this activity. I´m from Argentina and St Patrick's day is becoming more and more popular every year.

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  • I will use these activities in my 1st ESO CLIL group. They are always keen on new proposals. Thank you.

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  • Excellent material, a really good resource for classwork/homework!

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  • Many thanks, I'll definitely use many of your ideas in my groups this week.

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