Saturday, March 19, 2011

Leprechaun Traps and Treasure Hunts

I get great ideas from all over the place, and happily steal as many of them as I can for my own family. This one was from my sister-in-law. Every year, she and her children would set up a trap on the night before St. Patrick's Day to see if they could catch a leprechaun. In the morning they'd all go to the trap together, (which had always been set off by a wee person during the night) to check if they'd finally bettered the little men. They never did catch one, but the leprechaun always left them a treasure inside the trap for a treat. I don't think it was the same thing every year. Sometimes it was a variety of green candies, sometimes new green clothes, sometimes gold wrapped goodies, but always something fun.

So, when my oldest was two-years-old, we adopted this tradition into our own family.

For the first few years, the traps were made by me and the kids. They were made of a shoebox, or cereal box in a pinch, that was covered with green paper and decorated with anything green we had on hand. (This picture is my girl, age 2, peaking under our box to see if we'd caught a leprechaun early St. Patrick's Day morning, 2007)

But it wasn't too long before my husband took over the trap designs. They suddenly became much more elaborate and trap-like. This is the one he and our oldest son designed two years ago. It is plywood, with a hinged door that is triggered by a trip-wire that the leprechaun would have to snag as he went inside to get the bait, (a potato). 2009.

2011's attempt that my hubby and daughter built together. The leprechaun would climb up the ladder, see the pile of coins, cross to get it, and fall through the working trap door. Then in the morning, we could just lift up the sides of the trap to look through the bars at our catch.
A bit of a step up from my green-bedazzled box, but whatever you build together will be exciting for your children.

One thing that I added to my sister-in-law's fun idea, was to leave a trail of green footprints from the trap to the hiding place of the leprechaun's gold, rather than leaving the surprise inside the trap. It was tedious to stamp out dozens and dozens of footprints onto the green paper and cut them out, but they keep from year to year, and I love what they add.

In the morning, the kids check the trap and when we discover it is empty, we arm ourselves with magnifying glasses and follow the trail. It goes everywhere! Up walls, under couches, behind bookshelves, wherever the little man fled as he hurried to escape.

Finally, at the trail end, the footprints stop.

And with a little investigation we discover the treasure! I've hidden it inside pots in the kitchen, in the piano bench in the living room, in toy boxes in the playroom, and this year under a fun St. Patty's hat. But our treasure is always chocolate gold coins.
Try it next year and have fun!
This is my last St. Patrick's Day post till next year, I promise. Back to business as usual.

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