Kid’s Craic: Back to School

Kids’ Craic! Back to School?
By Dottie Wenger

At the time this column was written, schools in Ireland were expected to reopen fully in September, on a full-time basis.  What makes school in Ireland different than school in the United States?

In America, we use words like “kindergarten” and “first grade”, etc… to describe a child’s progress through the school years.  In Ireland, they use the words “classes” and “years”.  The Irish education system is split into Primary School (kids ages four through twelve) and Secondary School (those older than twelve).  It looks like this:

Primary School:
Junior Infants – beginning at age 4
Senior Infants- beginning at age 5
First class, Second class, Third class, etc…
Secondary School begins at age thirteen. 
Children are required to attend school between the ages of six and sixteen. 

Literature Highlight
The Pigeon HAS to Go to School, written and illustrated by popular American children’s author Mo Willems.  In this story, Pigeon (of Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! fame) has the back-to-school jitters.  He imagines all the things that may or may not happen.

Craft Corner
Read Mo Willem’s book (in Literature Highlight) and then make your own “Pigeon.”  Have someone trace your hand onto light blue paper.  Add a neck and head, also from light blue paper.  Draw a wing on the handprint with a black crayon or marker, as shown.  Using small scraps of yellow and white, give Pigeon a beak and a collar.  Pigeon’s legs can be made from scraps of black paper or black pipe cleaners.  Use a large craft “wiggle eye” to complete this fun character!

Kids in the Kitchen
Make a Pigeon cupcake!  Ask an adult to help you add a bit of blue food coloring to white frosting and top your favorite flavor cupcake with the frosting.  Use a piece of candy corn for Pigeon’s beak (or a small piece of a candy orange slice).  For Pigeon’s large eye, use an opened Oreo cookie, frosting side up as shown, and top with a mini Oreo.  Easy peasy! 

Count to Five in Gaelic

1 = a haon   (pron. ah hain)

2= a do (pron. ah dough)

3= a tri (pron. ah tree)

4= a ceathair (pron. ah cah-her)

5= a cuig (pron. ah coo-ig)

The Modern Irish alphabet contains only the eighteen letters on this chart.  Which letters do we use in English, that are absent from this list? 

Fun Facts 

  • When learning to read or write in English, Irish children pronounce the letter z as “zed”. In almost all countries in the world where English is spoken, it is pronounced this way!
  • In Ireland, the government provides a free preschool year, which includes three paid hours a day, five days a week at participating preschools.
  • Irish citizens can earn a bachelor’s degree for free, too!

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