Jenny's Waldorf Homeschool Classes

March 15, 2010

A fun Leprechaun story for St. Patrick’s Day!

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Jenny Sage @ 2:16 am

According to the Waldorf philosophy, children learn best, and retain information most fully, when the content is given to them in a way they can engage with, not just with their head, but with their whole being. That is why it is often referred to as “education for the head, heart, and hands.” Children around the age of 7-12 live particularly in the realm of fantasy, and especially the younger children in that age range relate to everything in the form of pictures and stories. Rather than expounding prolifically on this principle, I give you this fun story that I wrote for my first graders, who really love Leprechauns. You will find the academic lesson that is embedded in the story, and hopefully, you can see how much more fun it is to learn this way, then to be lectured on it in a way that’s pedantic and meaningless.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day. I hope you enjoy!

How the Leprechauns Learned to Count Their Pots of Gold

Once upon a time, a long time ago, there was a land full of rich, green hills. Far away from the cities full of people, there were whole ranges of hills covered in nice, green grass. Now a few of these hills were hollow. And inside of the hollow places in these hills, there lived whole towns full of very small men, who dressed all in green, so that they would blend in with the green grass of the hillsides. They wanted to blend in, for they didn’t want to be seen. But despite the fact that they were very careful to avoid being noticed, the big people never came as far away as the green men lived. For they lived at the very end of the land, past the end of the rainbow, and no big people had ever found their homes before, unless they had been caught and compelled to take them there. If one of them ever ventured into civilization, he was at risk of being captured; and when he was captured, he had to do what he was told. But they were seldom or never captured, for they were very, very clever. For these little men were Leprauchans.

The Leprechauns loved gold. They loved it so much, that they always went out searching for it, even if that meant they were in danger of being seen and caught by the humans. They would collect all of the gold that they could, and bring pieces back to put into their pots, which they kept in special chambers under the hills that were just meant for hiding pots of gold in.

Now the trouble with Leprauchans, was that they were also tricksters. They could not help playing silly tricks, especially on humans, and sometimes this put them in imminent danger of being caught. But for the most part, they were still so quick, that they still didn’t get caught, and their naughty tricks just confounded the humans on whom they played them.

Among these Leprauchans, there lived a particularly clever one named Paddy O’Conner. Paddy was the perfect model of a tricky, sneaky, impossible-to-catch Leprechaun. He always played the trickiest of tricks whenever he possibly could, and came into more danger of being caught than any other Leprechaun. But because he was so fast and sneaky, he never got caught. The other Leprechauns admired him, and many asked him what secret he had, that he never got captured. But he would never answer. Instead, he would pinch the one who had asked the question, or tweak his nose, and disappear in a twinkling.

As time went by, Paddy began to get bored, because he was so clever, that nothing was thrilling anymore. When he knew that he was too quick to get caught by a human, playing tricks on them lost the element of danger and fun. So he started to play tricks on his fellow Leprechauns. One day, Seamus O’Leary came home to find that somehow, a skunk had made its way into his kitchen. On another day, Finnigan O’Brian woke up to find that he was wearing his shirt on his legs, and his pants on his head. He had socks and shoes on his hands, and when he reached up to his face to undo his pants buttons in order to see, he found that his shoes were kicking him in the face.

Then, the Leprechauns gathered together and decided that no one could possibly be behind these tricks but Paddy O’Conner.

“Paddy O’Conner,” they told him, “you must go. We do not like your tricks. We play tricks on humans, not on each other. You are hereby banished from the Leprechaun clan.”

Paddy hung his head. He had never meant to harm anyone, just to have a little bit of fun. But Finnigan said that his nose still hurt from being hit by his shoes, and Seamus said that his kitchen was so stinky, he could no longer cook in it. So Paddy could do nothing except pack his bags, and sadly leave to go out alone into the wide world. He didn’t take much with him, just a small parcel of his belongings, which he tied to a stick and swung over his shoulder. He left his gold in his gold chamber, thinking that it would be safer there, even if he could never come back.

The first person he met on the road was a milkman, sitting in front of a wagon full of milk bottles. An old horse was pulling the wagon, plodding along slowly, and the milkman was humming softly to himself. Paddy was growing tired, so he jumped into the wagon and fell asleep. It was so comfortable, bumping along gently among the bottles of milk, that he dozed sometimes, and woke sometimes, but never wished to leave. When he got thirsty, he just drank from one of the milk bottles, before sinking back into sleep again. He was so tired, and so sad from having been driven out of his home, that he forgot to be clever and careful, and he forgot to stay awake so that the milkman wouldn’t find him. Imagine his surprise when he was woken up by a rough hand squeezing him, the face of the milkman very close to his, and a gruff voice crying out, “Gotcha!”

Back in the green hills where the Leprechauns lived, everyone was so happy that Paddy had been driven out. They had a party with cupcakes and balloons, to celebrate their freedom from his tiresome trickery. But after some time, life began to grow more and more dull. Something was missing from their green hills, but no one knew quite what. Seamus was even heard to mutter to himself one day, when he thought no one could hear him, that he was getting bored.

But then something happened which  had never happened to the leprechauns before. Clancey McCormick, one of the oldest Leprechauns alive, collected an unprecedented amount of gold. When he brought it back, he found that he had more gold than any other Leprechaun had ever had before. In fact, he had so much gold, that he did not know how to count it, or where to keep it.

To be exact, Clancey had already had nine pots of gold. No Leprechaun had yet ever collected more gold than could be fit into nine pots. For that reason, the chambers in which they kept their gold were simply not big enough to fit more than nine. And, also for the same reason, the Leprechauns, as clever as they were, had never yet bothered to learn how to count any higher than nine. But on this day, Clancey collected enough gold to fill up one more pot. But when he brought it back, and tried to add it to his other nine, and count them up, he found that he simply could not do it. So he sat outside and ripped at his hair and gnashed his teeth and wailed with grief. He simply did not know what to do.

The other Leprechauns came running, but when he told them of his troubles, none of them knew how to help him. Soon, all of the Leprechauns were tearing their hair and gnashing their teeth and wailing with woe.

But then, Finnigan stopped wailing. “I know what we need,” he said, sadly. “We need Paddy O’Conner. He was so clever, he is the only Leprechaun alive who is clever enough to solve this problem. Oh, how sad that we drove him away! Oh, woe is us!”

“Oh, woe is us,” cried all the other Leprechauns, and they began to tear their hair and gnash their teeth with redoubled energy.

But then, what should happen, but a very loud “POOF!” Right near where they were all gathered. They looked up to see a cloud of green smoke just clearing. Out of it appeared none other than Paddy O’Conner, but he was held tightly in the grasp of a mean-looking milkman.

“Oh no,” all the Leprechauns murmured. “Oh, now there is nothing we can do. Paddy has been captured. He was always so very clever, always the least likely to get caught. Fancy him being the one to get captured now!”

No one went to help him, for they knew that it was the law, magical and unchanging, that if a human caught a Leprechaun, then the Leprechaun must take him to the place where he hides his gold. So Paddy had to bring the milkman to his home beneath the hill, where he had departed not so long ago, thinking never to return. He had three pots of gold under there, and he had to give them all up to the milkman. Now the milkman was about to demand that Paddy take him magically back to where they had come from, gold and all, but he did a silly thing. He took his hands off of him, to put them onto the pots of gold. And the moment you let go of a Leprechaun, he is no longer bound to you and can easily escape.

So “POOF!” Paddy disappeared in a puff of green smoke, and so did all of the other Leprechauns. The milkman took the three pots of gold, but he was lost, and so very far away from his own home, that it is doubtful he ever made it back. He tried, but more than likely, he ended up in a new city, far from his own comfortable, country road, and never found out how to return there.

But we don’t really know what happened to the milkman. We do, however, know what happened to Paddy O’Conner. He came out of hiding, and looked shamefacedly at all of the other Leprechauns, who had also come out of hiding as soon as the milkman had left. “I’m sorry,” he said to them. “I had meant to stay away, on my honor, I did. But when a human captures one of us, we have no choice but to bring him back here.”

He was expecting them to come after him and chase him away again. You can imagine his surprise when they ran to him and hugged him, and lifted him up and told him how happy they were to see him again. As quickly as they could, they brought him to the hill where Clancey lived. They showed him how Clancey had nine pots of gold, but then one more again, and explained to him how Clancey neither had room to store it, nor the ability to count it.

“Oh that’s easy,” said paddy, laughing. “We’ll just call it ten. And since your storage space is too small, we’ll have to build a new one. A much, much bigger one. That way, whenever you get another group of ten pots, you can simply put them, altogether, into the larger chamber. We’ll call that chamber the “tens” chamber, and all the things that are put in it don’t have to be counted one by one, but by groups of ten. You see? It’s easy.”

So they built the “tens chamber,” and Paddy showed them how they now had one group of ten in the tens chamber, and zero in the other chamber, which they now called the “ones” chamber, because the items in it were counted by ones. Because Clancey was such an old, clever leprechaun, he soon collected more pots of gold. Soon, he had two pots of gold in his ones chamber; then five; then nine; and finally, yet another ten. But because of how Paddy had instructed him, he knew just how to count it, and just what to do with it. He gathered all ten pots together, and put them into the “tens chamber,” next to the first group of ten pots. “Now,” he said, “I have two groups of ten in my tens chamber, and zero in my ones chamber. How wonderful. I shall go out, and collect some more!”

And that is what he did.

Now Paddy, for his part, lived his life as a transformed Leprechaun. Since losing all his gold, he decided to spend some time collecting more, for what is a Leprechaun without a pot of gold? Never again did he taunt his fellow Leprechauns. And never again did he take the humans for granted; for he had learned from experience that even the most clever Leprechauns can sometimes get caught.


1 Comment »

  1. I’m pleased I found your post A fun Leprechaun story for St. Patrick's Day! « Jenny's Waldorf … , I couldnt locate any knowledge on this subject prior to. I also run a website and if you are ever serious in doing a bit of visitor writing for me please feel free to let me know, i’m always look for people to check out my blog. Please stop by and leave a comment sometime!

    Comment by Chinese Food — March 15, 2010 @ 2:20 am |Reply

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