St. Patrick's Day Shamrocks

St. Patrick's Day Shamrocks

by Judie Haynes

Use St. Patricks's Day to give your students an opportunity to learn and use figurative language in English.

If you didn't do the unit on Valentine's Day idioms, St. Patrick's Day provides another opportunity to introduce the concept of idiomatic language to intermediate English language learners (ELLs) in Grades 3-12. This unit gives students an occasion to extend their communicative competence in informal settings. It provides them with experience in learning and using language "chunks" and negotiating meaning with native speakers. Students also have the chance to present their work to the mainstream peers and join in group response at an appropriate time.

Lesson topic

"Green" Idioms

Proficiency/Grade level

Advanced Beginning to High Intermediate; Grades 3-12

Goal and Standard

Goal 1, Standard 3: To use English to communicate in social settings: Students will use learning strategies to extend their communicative competence.

Content Concepts and Skills

Use of idiomatic language in English

Materials or Resources

1.A simple book or article about St. Patrick's Day

2. List of "green" idioms with definition


1. This lesson was designed to be covered during five days of instruction (30 minutes each day). Students review vocabulary needed to understand the idioms. Literature about St. Patrick's day can also be included in the introduction to this unit as it provides a natural way to talk about the language.

2. Print the idioms from the above list on the board. Use a shorter list for younger students. Students then brainstorm what each idiom sounds like it means. For example, "have a green thumb" evokes a picture of someone with a thumb that is green in color. By giving examples of idioms in a sentence, elicit from students what each actually means.

3. Students each pick an idiom to illustrate. They receive 2 copies of a shamrock-shaped sheet of white construction paper. On the first sheet, they draw a picture of what the idiom sounds like it means. On the inside sheet they write the idiom and a definition with an original sentence.

4. The two shamrocks are backed by a larger green shamrock. Students learn each other's idioms through a game. Each students writes the definition of their idiom on an index card. The cards are placed face down on the table. Students each pick a card and try to match it with the correct idiom.

5. Students take their idioms to a mainstream class. They take turns holding up their pictures for classmates to guess what the idiom is. If the idiom is not guessed, they show the second page.

6. Work is hung in the hallway for everyone to enjoy.

Descriptors and Progress Indicators

During this unit students worked on the following skills:

Related Links

Wearing of the Green
Add interest to St. Patrick's Day with these downloadable word puzzles of varying difficulty.