Friday, March 16, 2012

Celebrating St. Patrick's Day with Fin M'Coul & Potato Stamping

One day til Saint Patrick's Day and I'm finally getting a holiday related post up!  I will say this, both the book & activity would be great any time of year.

Really, this book has nothing to do with St. Patrick's Day... but I figured since it's based on Irish folklore it could count.  Fin M'Coul: The Giant of Knockmany Hill Tomie de Paola's version of a story about the popular Irish Giant .  I didn't know any thing about Fin until I picked up this book for fifty cents a few weeks ago.  I guess it's obvious I'm not Irish.  
Even though Irish blood doesn't run through my veins I'm definitely a fan of Fin now.  This was such a great folk tale!  and artwork by Tomie de Paola?  Yes please!  For those who don't know (like I didn't) many stories are told of Fin M'Coul, a good and friendly Irish giant.  In this particular book we hear the story of his encounter with the extremely strong and prideful Giant Cucullin (the big bully in town).  The best bit of the story is... it's Fin's wife Oonagh who really gets Fin out of hot water with her quick thinking, creativity and ingenuity.  My boys LOVE this story.  We've read it many times in the past few weeks.  

As for a St. Patty's Day activity... I figure it's time to pull out the potatoes!  (you know Ireland... St. Patrick's Day... potatoes... just go with it folks.)
I got my paring knife and went to work.  Potato stamping is one of my favorite things to do.  Its fun to carve them!  And if you mess up... cut the offending carving away and start over.  Not much is lost.  I stamped with kids 6 and under today so I did all the knife work.  Though I have potato stamped with my 4-H group (kids 9 and older) those kids loved carving their own stamps.

I made five different shapes.  The first stamping of the day began with preschoolers in the morning.  We used washable tempera paint and stamped on construction paper.  Instead of dipping the stamps directly in paint we brushed it on.  That way we could keep better tabs on paint thickness, use multiple colors on one stamp (rainbow) and it was good for small motor skills to paint it on too- bonus!
I loved seeing the kids personalities come out in stamping methods.  My Bibs (seen in the top left) had a stamp everywhere and anywhere take on it, while you can see his friend in the purple (seen below) kept everything lined up nicely.  When school was over I simply washed the stamps... because we definitely weren't done with them!

When my 6 year old Snoopy got home from school we took the stamping to a different level... something a little more permanent.  

You may or may not know it, but I like to sew.  I especially like to piece quilts.  Because my family knows this, I'm somehow ALWAYS accumulating everyone's old jeans (ya know, cause Robyn will make a quilt out of them- someday).  About a year ago I had to get rid of all those jeans... so I just cut them ALL into 6 inch blocks.  Now I have this gigantic box full of 6 inch denim blocks.  

Back to potato stamping... 
I got out a big pile of blocks and had the boys use permanent acrylic paint to stamp- take a look:  (side note, we could have made cute holiday themed T-Shirts or fun onesies for Miss Kitten (the baby of the family)- but I didn't have any of those things handy... I'm just saying there are endless possibilities when using potato stamps.)
Shamrocks
fish (of course... you see, we've got this fish obsession going on here)
Rainbows (my favorite addition to the stamping fun)
Look at all those blocks!
Now I'll let them dry, iron them tomorrow to set in the paint (very important step) and then sometime soon the boys and I can start sewing blocks together for a denim quilt.  It will be the perfect sewing project, especially for Snoopy who is getting pretty good at controlling the speed of the foot pedal while sewing (though he'll probably only want to use the fish blocks which didn't have anything to do with St. Patrick's Day anyway, oh well).

There you have it Fin M'Coul and Potato Stamping!  Happy St. Patrick's Day!
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PS Ever since reading about Fin my boys have become very interested in stories involving giants.  If you know of a good one please leave a comment, I would love to find more great giant stories for them!

This post is linked up to Read:Explore:Learn, For the Kids Fridays, Kids co-op and Kitchen Fun and Crafty Friday

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