Lessons in Leprechauns

Happy March, friends! In the event you find your child summoning you for help building a leprechaun trap tonight, please heed the advice in this post. 

Last week, my five-year-old son brought home a note from school that read “Family Project: Leprechaun Trap.” 


See, I have vivid memories of a leprechaun trap my dad “helped” me build in the 4th grade. It was extensively thought out, battery-operated, and somehow a big green hat dropped down to catch the leprechaun. I’m sure my 4th grade teacher was thinking “um… the CHILD was supposed to build that.” My dad was an engineer so I need not say more – you get the picture. 

As soon as I opened this note from my son’s teacher, the ideas started brewing. I was immediately drawn back to 4th grade and having the coolest trap in the class, and I wanted that for my son. He is OBSESSED with trains, so he and I started brainstorming how we could incorporate a train into the trap.

We went to Hobby Lobby and basically bought them out of pipe cleaners, spray paint, pom pom balls, felt and tiny leprechaun hats. We set to work at home spray painting, glittering, gluing, you name it. We built a tunnel out of pipe cleaners over a train track that he painted like a rainbow. We painted and glittered and added a little hat and beard to the train. Then, we used zip ties to tie a decorated box to the end of the trap, so that when the motorized train went forward, it closed the box onto the track, thus trapping the leprechaun. 

If you noticed, I used the term “we” a lot in that last paragraph. Granted, my son did have a lot of the ideas and did a lot of painting, but he really couldn’t use the spray paint or hot glue himself, and the mechanics behind the box closing clearly was my doing. But much like my 4th grade leprechaun trap, it was definitely going to be the coolest in his class (hello, child of an enneagram 3). 

As excited as I was and as pumped as he was to take the trap to school the next day, I couldn’t help but feel a little guilty. Was a lot of the trap his idea? Yes. Could I have done something much more simple and allowed him to do most of the work? Also yes. 

He came home from school that day and told me how he had the most awesome trap and all of his friends loved it! I loved seeing how happy and proud he was and how much he enjoyed doing the project. 

The next morning though, he woke up and got out some straws, pipe cleaner, tape and scissors. He built his VERY OWN leprechaun trap without any help from me. It was complete with a straw ladder, a paper slide, and an elevator contraption that dropped down when the leprechaun landed on it. I was IMPRESSED to say the least. 

It was a humbling reminder that we don’t always have to have the best-looking and “coolest” projects. We can allow our kids to express their work creatively on their own, and sometimes, their work turns out even better than when Mom tries to “help.” So if your kids ask to catch a leprechaun tonight, keep it simple! Pull out whatever art supplies you have: glue, glitter, paper, pipe cleaners, etc. and let them go to town! Throw in a few gold chocolate coins as “bait” and BOOM. You’re done. All you have left to do is leave green footprints and nibble on some chocolate coins tonight. It’s a win-win!

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Shelby is a wife and mom of 2 boys, Foster (2016) & Fowler (2018). She recently opened a real estate brokerage and is a work from home Broker who loves documenting her real life Real Estate adventures with babies in tow. She has a love of helping people and putting a smile on their face whenever she can. She never takes life too seriously, and can find humor in just about anything (even if that's cleaning up baby blowouts on her lap in the backseat in between home showings). Formerly a Heritage Hall preschool teacher, she enjoys spending her free time at home doing learning activities with her kids that fill the teacher part of her heart. If she's not playing with her boys or selling homes, you can find her doing home projects with her husband Jacob at their farmhouse in Guthrie!


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