Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Upper Elementary: Leprechaun Traps

Your students will talk about your class for years after you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in upper elementary with leprechaun traps!!

I have always been a huge fan of St. Patrick’s Day.

Maybe it’s because of all that Irish blood running through my veins, or maybe it’s because my husband’s birthday falls on St. Paddy’s Day. Either way, it is one of my favorite holidays of the year, and I love to bring St. Patrick’s Day fun into my classroom.

More recently, it seems like all the fun and traditions that have always been a part of the school year are getting pushed out by state testing requirements and other mandated curriculum needs. Still, when I look around my classroom, I see students who are eager to be creative.

They aren’t just wanting to be more creative; they NEED to be more creative. They NEED to have a reason to have fun and use their imaginations. They NEED to play and enjoy learning and doing just for the sake of learning and doing, not because the information will be on a test.

That is why in my class, we create leprechaun traps!

What are Leprechaun Traps?

Leprechaun traps are designed and created by students to catch the little green men that many of us know as leprechauns.

When we begin this project, I like to spend some time learning about leprechauns by reading a book called Clever Tom and the Leprechaun by Linda Shute.

After reading the book, I like to engage my students in some creative thinking and writing, so we begin working through my All About Leprechauns flipbook. We cover all the information over the course of a week or so, and it all comes to a head with the leprechaun traps that they build before St. Patrick’s Day.

Creating a plan for their leprechaun traps is the final task presented to students in the All About Leprechauns Flipbook.

Read all about how I work through the book and the flipbook in this post called Little Green Men.


The Leprechaun Trap Project: Getting Started

I usually hand out the project instructions the last week of February or the first week of March, and the completed leprechaun traps are due back to school the day before St. Patrick’s Day (or the Friday before if St. Patrick’s Day falls on the weekend).

In my class, the traps are typically made at home with help from parents, but depending on your student population, you may choose to make the traps in class. Do what is best for the students to help them be most successful, and do everything you can to encourage them to be creative throughout this process.

I like to give students the option of creating their leprechaun traps with partners or individually. I leave this up to them. If you choose to work on them in class, partners may work best, as each student may be able to bring in a few items from home to add to their trap.


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The Objective

The goal of the trap is to catch the leprechaun. We do not want to hurt or kill the leprechaun. Students will need to take this important objective to heart as they design and build their traps. 

You may also need to have a discussion about safety and what kinds of items students are allowed to use.

Can they use sharp objects like plastic forks? Can they use mouse traps? Can they use food or sweets to lure the leprechaun in? Set some ground rules before starting to ensure your students understand their boundaries and limitations.

The size of the traps is another piece we discuss prior to building our traps.

In my class, student leprechaun traps have to be able to fit on their desks. When we actually set the traps, I let them set them up around the room, but for the sake of determining an appropriate size, I like to limit them to the size of their desktop.

Presentation Day

On the day the traps are due, give each student or group a chance to talk about their trap and present the traps they built to the rest of the class.

At the end of the day, students set their traps, and after they leave… well, that is when the real fun starts!

After they leave, close and lock the classroom door. If needed, I let the custodian know what I’m up to so they don’t clean up any of the ‘mess’ I leave behind or get suspicious when I lock myself into my classroom for an hour or so.

First, I spring all the traps and create some general mischief in the room. I usually make a little mess of each trap as if a leprechaun entered and escaped. Flip them over, reposition ladders, create escape holes, etc.

In each trap, I like to scribble teeny-tiny notes on torn-up bits of green paper and leave them in the traps… things like, “Close one!” or “Very clever! or “Almost got me!” 

Next, I like to add a little leprechaun mess around the room. 

This may look like all or just a few of the following:

  • write a green note on the board
  • sprinkle green shamrock confetti
  • make a pretend escape route from the classroom (ex.-unlocked window with stacked books, the cord from the blinds hooked to the window)
  • mess up the teacher’s desk

One of my favorite things to do is to leave behind tiny shreds (trace fibers) of orange wool roving yarn in each trap to make it look like the leprechaun’s beard got caught in the traps. My students really love this detail, and when you pull the yarn apart, it really looks like little pieces of orange hair! (Please note that I have used an Amazon affiliate link to the roving yarn which means that I will receive compensation if you make a purchase using the link. The linked orange wool roving yarn is what I love to use in my own classroom.)

I also leave a chocolate gold coin for each student (I always consider food allergies before leaving any coins).

The room looks a little chaotic when I’m done, but it’s all part of a hard day’s work as a leprechaun!

St. Patrick’s Day Reveal

On St. Patrick’s Day (or the Monday after), I like to keep the classroom door locked and wait outside the classroom. We enter as a group. 

I have learned that I need to set up some ground rules before entering, such as don’t throw anything, only touch your own trap, don’t mess with or damage anyone else’s trap, etc.

Fair Warning: Be prepared for a bit of chaos. The kids are going to be excited, and they are going to be off-task for a bit, but it’s really fun to see their reactions. 

This is an experience they will remember for a lifetime…trust me! I still have students come back to visit and they frequently bring up their leprechaun traps as a fond memory from their time in my class.

After students have had a few minutes to take in the chaos the leprechaun made and see whether or not their traps worked, I have my students put their traps in the hallway for the rest of the day, and surprisingly, things do settle down. We usually return to business as usual within 15 minutes of entering the classroom.

Some Final Thoughts

In addition to this being a fun way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in upper elementary, I’ve found that by building the leprechaun traps, my students have to think critically and use problem-solving skills in addition to being creative and using their imaginations. It is such a well-rounded project, and when you add in reading and writing about leprechauns, as I talk about in this post, this whole project covers many classroom skills as well!

Other Ways to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Upper Elementary

In addition to learning about leprechauns, reading the book about Clever Tom, and creating our leprechaun traps, I also like to incorporate some of these other fun St. Patrick’s Day activities into my plans for March!

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Upper Elementary: Digital Resources

#1 | St. Patrick’s Day Reading Skills Digital Jigsaw

#2 | St. Patrick’s Day Digital Escape Tale

#3 | Build a Leprechaun: St. Patrick’s Day 2-Step Math Word Problems

#4 | St. Patrick’s Day Digital Puzzles

The four digital resources above are also available in a money-saving bundle

#5 | St. Patrick’s Day Digital Learning Bundle

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Upper Elementary: Printable Resources

#6 | March Puzzle of the Day

#7 | St. Patrick’s Day Lockbox Challenge

#8 | Number Patterns Scavenger Hunt Leprechaun Puzzle


Join the Undercover Classroom email community and receive a leprechaun trap project explanation letter as an instant download!

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