12 Fun St. Patrick's Day Toddler Activities

St. Patrick's Day is a fun holiday, no matter your age. For toddlers, the experience is one filled with green things, shamrocks, and colorful rainbows. They may not understand the holiday itself, but with a few fun activities, they can begin to get a sense of the joy it brings to the month of March. It can also be used as a learning experience.

Let's explore some simple projects that are perfect for toddlers when St. Patrick's Day comes around. As with all activities that involve cooking and art supplies, remember to give your toddler close adult supervision.


Draw Shamrocks With Stencils

Cheerful siblings coloring different illustrations
gpointstudio/Getty Images

When your toddler lacks the fine motor skill to produce artwork that—to be frank—looks like something besides a bunch of scribbles, using a stencil can be fun. It takes advantage of the skills they already have and gives them an "I Can Do" feeling of accomplishment.

At this age, art is mostly about practicing emerging skills. It's also a time of experimenting with new and interesting textures and techniques.

To create the stencil, simply draw a shamrock shape on a rigid board (scrap cardboard works perfectly). Cut it out with an Exacto knife or similar blade tool. Give your toddler some green crayons and a piece of paper and show them how to color inside the shamrock. It's a simple way to turn those scribbles into something they can be proud of.


Make a Rainbow Cake

Slice of rainbow cake
RuthBlack / Getty Images

Rainbows are a wonderful natural phenomenon that creates a sense of awe in young children. They're also a great symbol for St. Patrick's Day. Use this as an opportunity to explore the wonder of color. 

With spring approaching, try to look for moments where you can go for a walk or a drive after the rain to see a rainbow with your toddler. If that's not possible, use a prism to create a rainbow indoors on a wall or the floor. 

After that experience, you can make this rainbow cake to reinforce what you've discussed about rainbows and color. It can also be used to introduce new skills like measuring and stirring. The best part is that it's a rainbow you get to eat when you're finished.

To create the cake, simply use your favorite cake recipe in a round pan (rectangular works as well). Frost it in a simple white frosting, then decorate it with a candy that comes in a rainbow of colors. Skittles and M&M's are ideal choices. Depending on how advanced you want to make your cake, you can also use food coloring to make the actual cake a rainbow. Make each layer a different color and simply put frosting between each in order to have the stack stay together. 


Make a Rainbow With Finger Paint

Rainbow colorful left hand print isolate on white background
Dmitriy Muravev/Getty Images

Using finger paints exposes your toddler to a unique sensory world involving sight, slippery touch, and squishy sounds. Add mint or vanilla extract and you can excite his sense of smell, too.

Finger painting helps your toddler gain fine motor control. Each time his hand moves the way his brain directs or expects, he is closer to fully controlling a paintbrush, crayon, or pencil.

To make a rainbow, paint each fingertip a different color in rainbow order (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, or purple, remember the acronym ROYGBIV) and gently guide his fingers across the paper in a curve. Take a moment to admire the rainbow and then let him do his own thing with the colors.

Tip: Line the table with newspaper or do this activity in a high chair for easy clean-up.


Make Shamrocks With Cookie Cutters

A shamrock cookie cutter
Althom/Getty Images

Like using stencils or sponge painting, a cookie-cutter can help your toddler create something he recognizes when he doesn't know how to draw the object. This activity is also a good starting point for any child who is reluctant about art activities. This may be because he doesn't want to get messy or doesn't like the way more tactile activities like finger painting or sponge painting feel.

For a young toddler, put the paint and cutters inside a newspaper-lined pan. This will keep him from making too big of a mess as he scoots the cutters around while loading them with paint. Older toddlers with a bit more practice can just use a paper plate. Both clean up easy.

All ages should wear a smock or old t-shirt to protect clothing.


Take a Walk and Find Green Things

Mother hiking with her child in forest
Ippei Naoi/Getty Images

St. Patrick's Day is all about the color green and it's a perfect opportunity to teach your child about it. Since this day is also near the beginning of spring in most areas, a walk around the neighborhood or to a park is likely to yield plenty to talk about.

Get down on the ground and look under the blanket of dead, brown grass from winter to find new shoots appearing. Look at tree branches and find green buds that are emerging. Search for green caterpillars.

Ask your child simple yes and no questions like, "Is this green?" when pointing to something of another color to see if he is getting the concept of the color. Knowing what green isn't is part of the learning experience.


Have a Green Snack

Close-Up Of Chopped Broccoli In Bowl On Cutting Board
Harald Walker / EyeEm / Getty Images

After you've gone on a walk and talked about green things, you can start reinforcing those concepts. If you make a snack of green food like gelatin, be sure to talk about it. 

Ask questions like, "What color is the Jell-O?" Make it part of all-green snack time with other foods like peas, steamed broccoli, and green beans or wilted spinach.

This is a good thing to remember each time you give your child something to eat, not just on St. Patrick's Day. Food is such an integral part of your toddler's day, so why not take that time to point out a food's color, shape, size, or quantity?


Drink Green Milk Shakes

Close-Up Of Milkshake Served On Table
Nealworld Gaming/EyeEm/Getty Images

Sure, you can put a couple of scoops of ice cream in the blender with food coloring and get a green shake. You could even run through a McDonald's drive-thru and get a green shake in a pinch. But you don't need to get the blender out to make a toddler milkshake.

Instead, place a small scoop of vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt in a short, half cup. Add a splash of milk and let it soften for about a minute. Give your toddler a small spoon and add a few drops of green food coloring. Let her use a little elbow grease to make her very own milkshake.

She will enjoy watching the color go from white to green and will love knowing that she made it happen.

Don't worry about spills. Little messes are part of the process of learning how to stir and mix.


Play With Green Playdough

Young and creative
Strendyssel/Getty Images

Another activity that reinforces your green lesson can come by playing with green playdough. Playdough is an activity that stimulates pure creativity and does so much to help your child master fine motor control.

You can make your own playdough with Kool-Aid and stimulate your toddler's sense of smell. It can also be made with a drop or two of food coloring. With this, you can let your toddler experience the mixing of color as he plays. 

Tip: Use the same shamrock cookie cutters you used for the painting activity to make shamrock shapes out of playdough.


Don't Forget to Wear Green

Children Celebrating St Patricks Day
Joy Elizabeth/Getty Images

It's an old game that anyone who doesn't wear green on St. Patrick's Day gets a pinch. Toddlers may not understand this concept and it may actually encourage bad behavior. For this reason, many teachers prefer a playful tickle instead.

No matter what your take is on the pinching part of St. Patrick's Day, this is one more chance to take part in a fun tradition and reinforce the concept of green. It's also a chance to instill independence.

Allow your child to pick out her own green outfit. She'll have fun looking through drawers and closets to find something. You can make it even more fun by hiding an item in a drawer like a crazy new green pair of socks or a hat.

For young toddlers, layout two or three green shirts or dresses and ask them to choose just one to wear that day.


Listen to Irish Music

Girl Playing the Bagpipes
Judy Griesedieck/Corbis/VCG/Getty Images

If the finer points of the holiday are lost on your active toddler, consider adding a little Irish music to the day. Purchase a CD of Irish jigs or fire up your favorite music streaming surface and look for Irish-themed playlists.

Simply playing Irish music is likely to get your toddler spinning, jumping, and dancing. The upbeat tempo just begs for it! You can even introduce the best part of the Irish jig by interlocking arms, then spin around in a circle.


Eat Lucky Charms Cereal

Lucky charms
Kim Kozlowski Photography, LLC/Getty Images

Well, okay, this is not technically an Irish activity. And we normally don't condone eating sugary cereal for breakfast on a regular basis. It doesn't matter if it has a "whole grains" label on the box, either. But, it is a holiday and the perfect cereal for the occasion is Lucky Charms.

To maintain that healthy diet, make this a fun, once-a-year treat. Let your child have fun searching for all the green clovers and wondering what on Earth a leprechaun is.


Cook an Authentic Irish Dinner

Corned beef, carrots, and onion on a white plate
boblin/Getty Images

So, Lucky Charms isn't authentic. But this Irish dinner is. Corned beef and cabbage can be made in the slow cooker, giving you tender veggies and meat. It's perfect toddler fare and easy on the budget, too. 

Many of the best Irish foods follow that line of thinking. They're frugal, simple, and filled with delicious nutrients. From soda bread to a classic Irish stew, there are many great authentic Irish recipes to try.

1 Source
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Basa FL, Sutarto J, Setiawan D. Finger Painting Learning to Stimulate Motor Development in Early ChildhoodJ Primary Educ. 2020;9(2):193-200. doi:10.15294/jpe.v9i2.37340

By Stephanie Brown
Stephanie Brown is a parenting writer with experience in the Head Start program and in NAEYC accredited child care centers.