How to make a leprechaun trap revisited

Every year at A Sunny Place Learning Center, the preschoolers build a leprechaun trap.  It's not just a fun way to celebrate GreenDay, but so much happens when we look at the process of trap building.

First, they have to learn about it.  What is a leprechaun.  What do they do?  Why do we want to trap one?  We dive into research by first making a list of what we already know.  This is like the warm up before you work out.  Once those pathways get working, it's easy to transition in what we want to learn about leprechauns.  The list included everything from 'are they green' to 'do they use toilets'.

Through our research, we learned that they like to play tricks, they are silly, they are tricky, and if you catch one, you get to keep their pot of gold.

Next, we have to start brainstorming trap ideas.  So many things are happening in these little brains now.  It's comparable to the moment man found fire.  Usually we spend an entire day talking about trap ideas, what we would need, how it would work, and in this phase I do not put any adult input into their ideas.  I want them to use their imaginations at their full potential, and usually I get some pretty great takeaways from it.   This year it was clear that our leprechaun needed to be lured in by play.  OH!  A playground!  Great!

Once we have some trap ideas, I introduce the materials we will be using and we get to work.  Our traps are always 95% reclaimed materials so that we can incorporate environmental stewardship into the week.  The dedication in creating the perfect trap is always the most apparent in my 3rd year preschoolers because they have tried twice already to catch one with no success.  They dug right in creating swings and playthings to entice our would be leprechaun to come near the trap. Our trap, which was a 2 liter bottle cut in half was strung up by yard that would pull tight if a leprechaun climbed in, pulling the 2 sides together and trapping him.  We filled it with things that sparkle, because like me, leprechauns can be led into anything by something that sparkles.

Just a snapshot of what is going on in their brains at this point:

  • problem solving
  • mathematics
  • imagination
  • self expression
  • continuity and permanence
  • self esteem
  • science
  • social skills
  • emotional growth
  • collaborative problem solving
  • compromise
  • fine motor skills
  • cause and effect

It seemed like a pretty legitimate trap, and I was pretty sure we would finally catch one after 23 years of trying, but like every other year, we walked into a mess in the morning.  The leprechaun was definitely here, but like always, he got away.  We'll try again next year!  

All of the kids were good sports about it, but a couple of the third years twisted up their faces and said, "That pesky leprechaun!"

If you haven't made a leprechaun trap with your kids or class before, give it a try next year.  You will not only be surprised by the effort, but by the sense of pride and accomplishment once it's complete, which is just another addition to the whole child.

Fill them with wonder and you'll never wonder why they succeeded in life.


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