St Patrick's Day

Last week in Nursery, amidst all the special preparations for Mother’s Day, the teachers still managed to make time to remember St Patrick, whose special day fell on Tuesday. Of course, around the world, and not least in Birmingham, with processions cancelled and merriment curtailed, this year St Patrick’s Day was largely overlooked. At Eversfield, however, there was still plenty of fun to be had.

St Patrick was an early Christian missionary active in the murky and dangerous years of the fifth century. One of his most enduring claims to fame is that he rid all of Ireland of snakes, although a Roman writer by the name of Gaius Julius Solinus, casts doubt on this theory by suggesting that the bothersome reptiles had been banished more than 200 years before. Perhaps more plausibly, St Patrick was also interested in the shamrock, which for him was a representation of the Holy Trinity and has gone on to become an enduring symbol of Ireland. My personal favourite St Patrick legend concerns his walking stick made of ash wood, which he spiked into the ground whenever he stopped to convert people to Christianity. In one place it actually grew into a living tree, possibly a reflection of the fact that persuading people to follow the Christian path was no quick and easy fix. Intriguingly, there is a town in Cumbria called Aspatria, its name literally meaning the ash of St Patrick, which was founded by a group of people who had travelled across from Ireland, although there is no suggestion that this was the location for the fabled tree.

Needless to say, none of this learning found its way onto the Nursery curriculum, except for the shamrock, which the children used to match and order the colours of the rainbow. This challenge might seem hard to believe, given that shamrocks are green and a rainbow has seven colours, but luckily Miss Shipley had managed to find a patch of magic shamrocks that had all the colours she needed.

There was certainly plenty of magic afoot in Nursery last week. A mysterious door appeared and, despite there being no reliable witnesses, it seemed to open when the Nursery was empty. In came someone who played tricks on Nursery children and teachers alike and left them small rainbows above the doors and funny little messages…it had to be a leprechaun!

Earlier this year, I reported on the great excitement that ensued when Santa sent a letter to Nursery. To receive a letter from a leprechaun proved to be every bit as exciting. Miss Shipley is keen to give her children a purpose for their writing and, when the leprechaun informed them that they could find gold coins at the end of a rainbow, they had lots of questions they wanted to ask. By Friday, as you can see, the children had cracked the problem and they gazed proudly upon a heap of shiny coins.

Having found the money, the children could almost forgive the leprechaun his naughty tricks. He even managed to turn a jug of water green, leading to more questioning and discussion throughout Nursery. Two very brave and trusting girls offered to try the funny looking drink and, astonishingly, it tasted delicious! Everyone breathed a sigh of relief until…the coloured pencils disappeared! Or rather…almost all of them. The cheeky leprechaun left behind the yellow and green pencils, so which colours were missing, and how many pencils might that be? All the thinking and puzzling over mysteries like this is very healthy as it fosters a spirit of curiosity in our children, on which we can build as they move through the school. However, this was scant consolation for Miss Shipley who, as school ended last Friday, was still searching everywhere for the missing pencils. I haven’t heard yet whether she has found them!