Lesson plan

St. Patrick's Day Blarney

In this Saint Patrick's Day lesson plan, students will complete a 5-strategy comprehension exercise using "The Legend of the Blarney Stone."
Grade Subject View aligned standards

Students will be able to determine meaning and develop contextual awareness for unfamiliar words.

(5 minutes)
  • Write the word "football" on a poster chart visible to your entire class.
  • Invite students to turn and tell a neightbor what "football" means and where it comes from, in two sentences or less.
  • Draw a T-chart below the word "football" and label one column definition and the other column origin.
  • Call your students' attention to the T-chart and explain:
    • the column labeled definition means "word meaning".
    • the column labeled origin means "where something comes from".
  • Solicit and list several details for each column about "football" from your students.
  • Tell your class they will learn to define words and phrases in a similar way, using an Irish tale in celebration of St. Patrick's Day!
(10 minutes)
  • Tell your students that many English words originate from cultures across the world.
  • Write "origin" on poster paper for students to see.
  • Explain to your class that you will demonstrate a 5-strategy comprehension exercise, using the word "origin". (It will help to number each strategy for reference during your Review and Closing.)
  • Draft five rows on a poster page, below the word "origin," with these examples:

1) Context (story or text). Example: Class conversation.

2) Part of Speech (verb or noun). Example: Noun.

3) Culture Connection (ethnic context). Example: Teaching and learning in an American classroom.

4) Inference/Definition (what you think the word means using context clues). Example: Where something is born or comes from.

5) Word Family. Example: Origins, original, originality and originate. Discuss how each word has a slightly different meaning.

(10 minutes)
  • Use a document projector to show your students the Legend of the Blarney Stone section of the Blarney worksheet.
  • Explain that you'll read the first paragraph of a St. Patrick's Day themed tale, then reread it to highlight unfamiliar words.
  • Read the first paragraph with your class, then re-read it, highlighting the word "blarney". (See reference media for blarney online definition link.)
  • Demonstrate a 5-strategy comprehension exercise by drafting five rows on your poster, below the word "blarney", with examples:

1) Origin (story or text). Example: Legend of the Blarney Stone.

2) Part of Speech. Example: Noun and/or verb.

3) Culture Connection (ethnic context). Example: Irish/St. Patrick's Day history.

4) Inference/Definition: what you think the word means using context clues.) In addition,use referrence definition: (noun) talk that aims to charm, pleasantly flatter, or persuade. (verb) influence or persuade (someone) using charm and pleasant flattery.

5) Word Family. Example: Blarneys, blarneyed, blarneying. (Discuss the nuanced meaning differences of each word.)

(15 minutes)
  • Assign one or more students as researchers to access reference or Internet resources for the class.
  • Instruct your class to read the remaing paragraphs of Legend of the Blarney and highlight and research unfamiliar words, (incuding banshees and Irish).
  • Have your class perform the 5-strategy comprehension exercise for each word they highlight in their writing journals or on lined paper.
  • Review time limits and clarify independent work time expectations.
  • Answer any clarifying questions before releasing your class to their assignment.


  • Designate key St. Patrick's day related vocabulary conenctions in advance.
  • Strategically assign tasks and group students during independent work time.
  • Assign 5 strategies as small group roles.
  • Allow extended time for assessment and lesson transition.


  • Set a minimum of words for investigation.
  • Students can research origin stories about other cultural phrases.
  • Challenge students to draft their own version of the Legend of the Blarney Stone, using uncommon vocabulary.
  • A computer with Internet access and a projector usefully enhances this lesson. During independent work time, students assigned as researchers could perform Internet word searches, record, and display information for reference.
(5 minutes)
  • As an exit ticket, have your students write a 5-strategy comprehension exercise on a word related to St. Patrick's Day.
  • Scan each exercise as you release them to a transition. Set aside samples that suggest future support lesson plans.
(5 minutes)
  • Collect student independent work time samples and announce you're going to play a game.
  • Designate 5 areas of the room to correspond to each word comprehension strategy. Then choose several students, as a team.
  • Announce that you will read student work samples that correspond to one of the five strategies. The team's job is to agree and go to the designated area that matches the strategy for information the teacher shares, (i.e. If you call out a series of words in a family, strategy #5, students should go to area 5.)
  • Points may be assigned for team performance.

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