Adventures as Annie in Ireland

Magic Tree House Adventures went to 19th-century Ireland for the second edition of our new library program for kids 5 & up based on the popular series Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne.

Like many cities, St. Patrick’s Day in Lawrence, Kansas is quite the event. But aside from the parades and green get-up, what is it really all about? For the March session of Magic Tree House Adventures we decided to find out as we journeyed back in time, as Annie and Jack did in Leprechaun in Late Winter, celebrating this popular holiday by learning about Irish history and folklore through activities and and a very special guest performer.

These were our adventures in Ireland…

History Through Music

Music was and is to this day a very large part of Irish culture . Lucky for us, Lawrence, Kansas is a part-time home to an extremely talented, nationally renowned Celtic folk singer, Ashley Davis. Ashely graciously accepted the invitation to sing for and with the Magic Tree House Adventures group.

(You can listen to excerpts of Ashley Davis’ albums HERE, and if you’re in New York City this St. Patrick’s Day she will be preforming at The Barge at 8pm.)

Where Are We? Who Are They?

“Where Are We? Who Are They? is a game we played at The Hour of Olympics session and might become a staple for every Magic Tree House Adventures session. It’s a power point guessing game where we flash an image on a large screen and the kids guess the location of the picture, what is going on in the picture, or who is/are the person/persons in the picture.

For example, the first picture was the picture below. When it came up on the screen, I asked, “Where is that? Is it Kansas? Is it a beach in Florida?” And then kids would contribute their guesses. After three guess, I would tell them where it was (Ireland) and a little about the place. Our performer, Ashley Davis, knowledgeable about Ireland’s history and culture, contributed facts too.

Facts for the topics chosen where found in Leprechauns and Irish Folklore, A Magic Tree House Research Guide by Mary Pope Osborne, Sal Murdocca, and Natalie Pope Boyce. We showed images and talked about Ireland, Irish Folklore/Oral Tradition, Lady Augusta Gregory, Fairies, Leprechauns, Trooping Fairies, Irish Music and Dancing, and “Real or Not Real”. For the last slide, “Real or Not Real”, we used this famous image below of the Cottingley Fairies and asked if the kids believed in fairies by a hand-raise vote.

I followed up by saying there were actually fairies and leprechauns in the very room they were sitting in.

And if they looked carefully… they will find them.

Fairy Scavenger Hunt and Craft

I had pasted several different images of leprechauns and fairies into a word document, printed them, and cut them out. Before the kids came into the auditorium for the hour the leprechauns and fairies were taped all around the room. You wouldn’t have been able to tell that 100 wee folk were all around unless someone pointed it out.

The capture of the fairies ensued and after each child had a fairy or leprechaun, they were given mason jars to make a fairy jar, a place to keep captured fairies. Tables were set up with spanish moss (straw like material found in large bags at a craft or floral store), reeds, twigs, dried plants found outside, buttons, glitter, ribbon, rocks, marbles, and seashells.

After they finished decorating their jars, it was suggested that they glue a short reed or stick to the back of the fairy so that stand up straight, and then seal them in the jar.

Important Note: Do not use heavy rocks. Actually.. my advice would be to not use rocks in the fairy jars AT ALL. We had two drop and break due to the rock inside. Other than that, it was a great activity and craft. And if you have the option to do it outside, I think it would make the activity even more fun.

Rainbow Demonstration

After the fairy scavenger hunt and craft, we all sat back down for a science session devoted to rainbows. In the tale of the leprechaun, it is said that if you find the end of the rainbow, you’ll find the leprechaun’s gold. This is where I asked the kids, “But did you know that rainbows never really end?”

“Huh?” was the dominate reply.

I sat down on the floor in the middle of the group with a clear glass bowl filled with water, a compact mirror, and a flashlight.

With all the kids facing me, I turned on the flashlight and all the lights in the room (which is windowless) were dimmed. Holding the flashlight near the ground with the light on a side of the bowl of water,  I diped the mirror in the bowl of water so the mirror was reflecting the light from the flashlight– See diagram below.

Doing this reflected light onto the ceiling and when angled just right, reflects a rainbow. I explained that white light, like the light from the sun, is actually a lot of different colors. The different colors don’t appear unless they are refracted, or broken up, by water or a prism.  Once the rainbow appeared, they all oooo’ed and ahhh’ed. I continued to explain that a rainbow is formed when sunlight meets raindrops in the air and the raindrops separate the sunlight into all these different colors. Also, because rainbows are made in the sky they don’t touch the ground. So no mater how far you walk towards a rainbow, it will always look as though it’s on the edge of the horizon. Which is why, truth be told, no one will ever find a leprechaun’s pot of gold, because rainbows don’t ever end. Clever little men, no?

I used this website as a reference for this demonstration.

A Leprechaun Tale

To end, I read The Story of the Leprechaun, an adaptation of an Irish folktale, to the kids.

And that was the hour.

They went home with their very own Magic Tree House Adventure Journals,

which included what we talked about,

and a few activities from the Magic Tree House website.

Not to forget books for the kids to check out on their way out.

Next month, Magic Tree House Adventures will take place on the 100th anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking.

Get ready to set sail in April, Tonight on the Titanic.

image source: ashley davis, ireland, cottingley fairies, rainbowthe story of the leprechaun


6 Responses to “Adventures as Annie in Ireland”

  1. Susan says:

    This is awesome. Would you please send me a copy of your journal. I am teaching Magic Tree House Camp in July and this would make a great resource. Thanks so much.

    • Megan says:

      I would love a copy of the adventure journal. Thanks so much. I love your ideas, I also facilitate a Magic Tree House club!

  2. Larry Lane says:

    Where in Ireland was the picture above taken?


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