Irish games for kids

Written by jim radenhausen
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Irish games for kids
Kids can play a number of games inspired by Irish heritage. (Irish flag with shamrock image by Sophia Winters from

Irish heritage offers a rich array of items that may intrigue kids--gold coins, leprechauns, pots of gold, rainbows and shamrocks, to name just a few. Just as almost everyone considers themselves Irish on St. Patrick's Day, kids of all heritages can play Irish games, dressing in green and playing Celtic or Irish music to enhance the fun.

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'Find the Coin'

"Find the Coin" challenges kids to hide a coin from the "leprechaun's" view. A chosen "leprechaun" stands in the middle of a circle and covers his eyes as a leader hands the coin to another child. Upon the "leprechaun" opening his eyes, players start passing the coin around the circle. Knowing that kids may pull "trickery," such as reversing the coin's direction and pretending to pass the coin when they don't have it, the "leprechaun" watches closely and shouts "stop," when he's ready to guess who has the coin. If the "leprechaun" guesses incorrectly, play continues; if he guesses correctly, the two players switch places.

'Leprechaun Relay Race'

Kids dance their way to victory in "Leprechaun Relay Race." After dividing into two teams, the teams split in half, with one half standing at one side of the room, and the other half at the opposite end. A leader calls out different Irish dance steps as often as she likes, with kids completing the steps as they move to the opposite end to tag the next player. The team that completes the relay first wins.

'Pot-Of-Gold Scavenger Hunt'

Collaborating to find a treasure, kids embark on a "Pot-of-Gold Scavenger Hunt." A leader hides a black pot filled with gold chocolate coins and cuts out four leaf clovers from green construction paper, cutting one clover larger than the others. After writing the first clue on the large clover and placing it visibly in the kids' sight, the leader writes follow-up clues on the smaller clovers and hides them. Kids follow the clues to find the clovers, leading finally to the pot of gold.

'Rainbow Ribbons'

Kids try locating the rainbow in "Rainbow Ribbons." A leader makes a rainbow out of cardboard, then attaches colourful ribbons to it and hides the rainbow, leaving the ribbons showing. Upon finding the ribbons, kids go back to the starting point and sit down. The first kid who sits down and correctly identifies the rainbow's hiding place wins and hides the rainbow for others to find.

'St. Patrick's Pictionary'

Putting an Irish spin on "Pictionary," kids divide into two teams and take turns picking paper slips containing Irish words or phrases from a hat. Using a chalkboard or erasable-marker board, kids draw pictures representing their chosen words for their team to guess. Teams guessing correctly within an allocated time frame score 1 point; if the team fails to guess correctly, the opposing team has 5 seconds to steal the point. The team with the most points after a predetermined number of rounds wins.

'Shamrock Relay'

Shamrocks may or may not bring kids luck in "Shamrock Relay." After dividing into two teams, kids step on two laminated or paper shamrocks as they make their way across the room, continuously reaching back and moving the shamrocks in front of them. Once they reach the opposite end of the room, players grab the shamrocks, run to the start line and tag the next player. The team that finishes the relay first wins.

'Shamrock Stomp'

In this Irish variation of "Musical Chairs," a leader tapes large, laminated green shamrocks at random spots on the floor, one less than the number of children. Kids walk around the room as a leader plays music; once the music stops, kids must run to a shamrock. The child left without a shamrock exits the game. The leader removes one shamrock after each elimination, with the last child remaining declared the winner.

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