Monday, March 6, 2017

Tips, Tricks and a Little Bit O’ Luck!

guest post by Sue Fliess

When I was growing up, making leprechaun traps was simply not a thing. I’m not sure when it became a trend, but I know that my first reaction as a mom of preschoolers was, “Oh, great, I’m already so tired and now I have one more thing I have to do!”

But I must confess: I think I enjoyed making the traps more than my children did! I got so into it. We used an old fish tank, painted some rocks gold, made a ladder, and propped open the fish tank like an animal snare. My boys helped in all of this—as much as 3 and 5 year olds can—and decorated the tank with shamrocks and rainbows.

But it wasn’t enough for me to stop there. I knew my boys would want proof that a leprechaun stopped by. So, I left a note (which rhymed, of course!) from Liam the Leprechaun, which gave my boys clues for looking for the treasures he’d stolen, which I’d placed around the house. We did this for a few years, until they grew out of it—or, more truthfully, my older son grew frustrated with never catching Liam. Once he wrote a note back to Liam expressing just that.

All of this planted the seed for my new book, How To Trap a Leprechaun, long before I knew I would write it. But when I sat down to write it, all of the material presented itself from my own experience. It was one of those books that flew from my brain to the page with relative ease.

This how-to book written in rhyme explains to kids what leprechauns are and what they might be attracted to, so kids can decide how to build their traps, what types of things to put in the traps, and how they might decorate them. There is even some instruction in the back of the book for teachers/educators.

Depending on the age of the kids you’re working with, there are lots of ways to present a how-to writing activity on building a leprechaun trap.

Simple Machines
Have this be a ‘simple machine’ building day. Require kids to have one moving part to their traps. Maybe an incline, pulley, or a lever.

Rubric practice
Create a rubric for the trap, making sure they use one or more specific materials, such as, ‘you must use at least one pipe-cleaner, and it must have a shamrock.’

Plan it!
Have them create a blueprint before starting. They can draw a picture of what they want the trap to look like, and write out the steps they’ll take to make the trap.

Put them in small groups to have it be a collaborative trap-building activity (like the kids in my book). This promotes teamwork and brainstorming.

An unstructured structure
You can also just keep it completely unstructured. Put out materials and/or encourage them to bring some materials from home to use in their traps. Let them create in an unstructured environment.

Whatever assignment you give, you may want to ask the students to do presentations when they are finished. This gives them a public speaking opportunity where they’ll have to clearly explain something in multiple steps: how the leprechaun may be lured, how he might enter the trap, what will keep him there. Every trap is sure to be very different! Emphasize that there’s no wrong way to make a leprechaun trap, so every effort is commended.

BIO: Sue Fliess ("fleece") is the author of numerous children's books including A Fairy Friend, Calling All Cars, Robots, Robots Everywhere!, The Hug Book, Tons of Trucks and Shoes for Me! Her background is in copywriting, PR, and marketing, and her articles have appeared in O the Oprah Magazine, Huffington Post, Writer's Digest,, and more. Fliess has also written stories for The Walt Disney Company. Her picture books have received honors from the Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators, have been used in school curriculums, museum educational programs, and have even been translated into French. She's a member of SCBWI and The Children's Book Guild of DC. Sue lives with her family and a Labrador named Charlie in Northern Virginia. Visit her at

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