This paper plate craft is ideal for St. Patrick's Day crafting. It is an easy and fun activity to do with younger kids and can teach them about shapes, colors and different materials. The items that you need are inexpensive and they are readily available which makes it a good group activity. Since not everyone has a printer they can use to create a template, I show you how to make this leprechaun without the need to use a printed pattern.
Turn the finished leprechaun design in to a cool looking mask for St. Patrick's Day when it is ready - just make some holes for the eyes and tie on a length of elastic to fit it around the child's head. My daughter enjoyed hers as a homemade hanging decoration which she thought was nice and cheerful for her play room wall. Have fun making this lucky Irish motif.
1: Making the Leprechaun's Orange Beard
Kids Can Discover How the Color Orange is Made with this Activity
The leprechaun's famous orange beard is a crucial part of the design and there are lots of ways in which you can make it using different materials. I have outlined 5 different methods in more detail just below.
Children can cover the rim of the paper plate with crayons, marker pens, paper, yarn, colored sand or paints. Paints are good because you can use them to demonstrate how you make the color orange. Explain that red and yellow are primary colors and show children how to mix these to make orange paint. You can ask what happens if you add in more yellow to the mix or more red. 
5 Fun Ways to Make a Beard for Your Irish Chap
- Orange construction paper is an easy choice of material to use. Cut or tear it into long lengths and strips, curl the strips around pencils and then glue the pieces around the edge of the paper plate. It will make a wonderfully curly and fun leprechaun beard.
- For a more messy option, try orange tissue paper and glue. Tear the tissue paper into small pieces and stick it all around the paper plate rim with white glue. Most kids love do gluing activities so this is a good, hands-on option.
- I mentioned above about teaching children how to make orange paint by mixing the primary colors of red and yellow. You can use the paint that the kids made to create the beard. Instead of just using a paint brush to paint it on, why not think of another option such as using fingers and thumbs in the paint to make prints, cutting up and using sponges for some texture or blowing paint through straws. The last option requires children who are old enough to understand the difference between blowing and sucking though.
- Our own choice was to use some bright orange marker pens to create the beard. It is a great choice for a vibrant colored beard with little mess involved. Children can scribble in circles or stripes to make their design. It is good for teaching about different methods of hatching or shading effects.
- Yarn has a lovely texture and makes an alternative option. Cut it into smaller pieces and glue it into place to make a beard that is fun to touch.
2: Making the Green Top Hat
Teach Kids about Different Shapes Used to Make the Hat
The green hat for the paper plate leprechaun comes from a semi-circle for the top and a long, thin rectangle for the rim at the bottom. Making the hat without a printed template is a great way to teach about different shapes. You can explain what a semi-circle is and how you make one by cutting a circle in half. Follow the photo instructions and text to make a basic hat for your lucky Irish leprechaun.
Find something round to draw around like a bowl or a plate. Make it smaller than the paper plate with the beard on.
Choose green craft foam, card or paper for the hat. You could use this as an opportunity to also explain about the significance of the color green with St. Patrick's Day. Children can trace around a round object over the material being used. Show how to cut this out, fold the circle in half and cut along the folded line to make 2 semi-circles. This demonstrates what semi-circles are and deals with fractions and halves.
Cut out a matching green rectangle to make the rim of the hat. To make this, show children how to make a long rectangle using a ruler. You can just draw around the ruler and then adjust it to make it shorter to work with the top of the hat.
Place the green semi-circle on top of the rectangle in the middle to make the main shape of the leprechaun's hat. Stick the pieces together at the back using sticky tape.
3: Finishing the Green Hat
Add on Detail with a Faux Buckle
Making a buckle for the hat is useful for teaching children about square and rectangle shapes. Instead of making the buckle from card or paper, draw or paint them on instead.
Use the ruler to draw out another rectangle shape from black card, foam or paper. Trim this to size and then glue it just above the rim on the green hat. Alternatively you can paint on a black band instead of cutting one out.
Out of yellow, gold, or orange color card or paper, cut out a small square. Make the height of the square a little bigger than the hat's black band and then glue it into the middle.
With black paper or card, make a smaller black square to stick in the middle of the yellow one. If you make the black square the same height as the black band across the hat, it looks like a buckle without having to do any complicated cutting.
Stick the hat on top of the paper plate with the beard, fixing it at the back. To make the project look nice and neat, some of the paper plate may need trimming down.
4: Completing the Leprechaun Paper Plate Craft
Add on Two Eyes and a Big Smiley Mouth
All that is left is to stick on two eyes and a smiling mouth to complete the leprechaun face. We found two black buttons for the eyes and I drew on a big pink mouth with a marker pen.
Children Can Have Fun While Learning
This Makes a Good Educational Activity for St. Patrick's Day
The leprechaun face is a really fun and educational project for Irish themed and St. Patrick's Day crafts. It is an ideal activity that adults can help younger children with and there is lots of scope for learning about different shapes, colors and textures along the way.
You may have noticed that the main colors used in this craft (the white paper plate, the orange beard and the green hat) are all the colors in Ireland's national flag. So there is another opportunity to use this activity to help children discover more about Irish history and facts.
Image Credit: all images on this page belong to the author of this article, Marie Williams Johnstone