Dalkey School Project/ Forest Friday

Session 5

Senior Infants

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Work from meeting at the Pine Grove.

Focus Plant – Cleavers and dandelions.

Once the children had gathered at the pine grove we took a long route to our base camp to find our focus plant Cleavers or Stickybacks. We collected enough to make tea and had a game of sticking them on each others clothes.

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The children took turns to lead us to base camp. Each leader stopped and pointed out something. They were encouraged to start with “I wonder…”

At our base camp the children are now used to our routine of putting up the boundary ribbons and having free play. Free play usually means playing in the den and playing ‘Eagle Eye’

We had our break up on top of the hill in the sun today and from there went on a hike to new areas. IMG_2953 copyTodays story.


(One of the mothers told me today that she now reads the Forest Friday stories to her son at bedtime. He loves it as it brings back memories of his Fridays up on Killiney Hill.)

Long, long ago, the flowers had a huge argument about which of them was the most beautiful, the most special, the most loved by the humans and by the fairies. The argument lasted for weeks, with each flower claiming to be the most beautiful and the most loved. Finally, all of the flowers agreed to let the Flower Fairies decide.
The Flower Fairies sent they’re gentlest and kindest of spirit fairy to settle the problem and to give one plant her blessing and the title of the “most perfect” flower. The little Fairy decided to test each flower by asking them one question.

The first flower the Fairy talked to was the Rose.
“Where would you most like to live?” she asked it.
“I would like to climb the castle wall.” said the Rose. “And then kings and queens and nobles would pass by everyday and exclaim over my beauty, my scent and my delicate nature.”
The Flower Fairy walked sadly away from the Rose.

Next the Fairy came to a tulip, standing tall and proud. “Where would you most like to live?” she asked the Tulip.
“Oh, I want to live in a public garden” said the Tulip. “Where everyday people would come and admire my wonderful colors and see how straight and tall I stand.” Once again, the Fairy walked a way feeling sad.

She walked until she came to a forest. There she found some Violets. She asked them “Where would you most like to live, little Violets?” “Oh” said the violets quietly “We like it here hidden in the woods where no one can see us and where the trees keep the sun from dulling our beautiful color.” The fairy thanked the Violets and walked on looking for more flowers to talk to.

She talked to the Tiger Lily who was much too wild and fierce.
She talked to the Sunflower who barely answered her because all she wanted to do was be warmed by the sun.
The little Flower Fairy talked to the Orchids who only wanted to be taken out to dances and she tried to talk to the Narcissus but it was too busy looking at it’s reflection in the water to speak to her.

The little Fairy, with tears in her eyes, was ready to give up and go home when she came to a field with bright fluffy yellow flowers on long thin stalks. The leaves were long and jagged and very close to the ground. But the flowers….oh how happy and cheerful they looked in the field!

“Little one” said the Flower Fairy “What are you called and where would you like to live?”

“I am a dandelion” said the little flower.”I’d like to live where ever there are children. I want to live beside the road, and in the meadows, and push up between the sidewalks in the cities, and make everyone feel happier when they see my bright colors.” The Dandelion chattered on happily saying “I want to be the first flower that the children pick in the spring and take to their mothers. And I could tell if a child likes butter by being rubbed under their chins, and if a child makes a wish and blows my seeds, I could carry that wish on the wind.”

The Flower Fairy smiled brightly and said “Little Dandelion, you are the most perfect and special flower of all and you shall have your wish! You will blossom everywhere from spring till fall, and be known as the children’s flower.”

And this is why the dandelion comes so early and pushes her head up everywhere with such strength and determination. And why she is so loved by children throughout her long life.IMG_2949 copy

Forest costumes
Exploration – “Show how to thread daisies together. What other plants can you join in a similar way to daisies?
Explore Sticky backs. How could you use these for a costume? (Stick to clothes not skin as some people may have a reaction to them.)
Explore Elderflower wood. Look at the centre of the wood it has a soft pith. Hollow it out with a stick. Join a smaller stick by sticking it into the hole.
Explore ivy, try to weave a circle with it.
Use a length of wire with a loop at the end. Try threading plants and leaves on to wire. Thread through once. Try threading in and out like doing a stitch.
Using these skills and other skills you make up, create a wonderful forest costume for yourself.
You could make headdresses, arm and leg bands, belts, skirts and lots more ideas.”

Threading leaves and plants on to wire.

Second Class

The children stopped on the way up to base camp and asking “I wonder…” about lots of very interesting details.


Some made some forest costumes on the way up.



The Dandelion – the children’s flower.IMG_2996 copy


Making forest costumes


Can you find children in the forest?

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Dalkey School Project/ Forest Friday

Session 4

Senior Infants

Todays focus tree was the Oak.


The Oak Fairy
Oak is one of the most sacred trees, traditionally prized by the Celts and Druids. The oak fairy is very powerful, and imparts strength and endurance to any who stay within its aura.
Each oak tree is a very metropolis of fairies, and each acorn has its own sprite. Bringing one into the house is a way to enhance contact with the fairy realm. Oak beams are often used to make doors, but the tree itself is a great portal to the other realms.
The oak is associated with many gods all over the world, notably Zeus and Thor. In sacred groves of oak, the Goddess was believed to impart her wisdom through oracles. The oak has sheltered many a king and hero, in myth and real life. The oak spirit is distinct from fairies, and may become very angry if trees are felled or wildlife harmed.
The oak fairy brings courage and a stout heart, necessary to brave the challenges in this world and to journey in the Otherworld. Bearing strength from the heart of the earth, oak fairy can bring steadiness and a deep joy that endures through all.


Having gathered in the pine grove as usual we looked  for oak tress on our way up to our camp. The children found lots of oak galls on the young oak trees, and they found eggs under a leaf.

We decided to have our break at the top of the hill in the sun where the hawthorn tree is.   This week we used the flowers to make the tea.

Ink Drawings

Ms. Dungan made oak gall ink.

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It was used in the Book of Kells and in writing the American declaration of independence and by Albert Einstein.

On our way back to our base camp the children collected oak leaves and sticks and feathers.

In our base camp we spent time looking at the oak leaves. We looked at the veins. The middle one was the thickest. Some had holes bitten into them from some insects.

Using the sticks as drawing tools the children make drawings of their leaves. They signed their drawings in ogham writing – d for duir meaning oak.

They decided to make a gallery of their drawings on the ivy wall.

Second Class

There were so many daises that we decided to make daisy chains before we went up to camp. Many of the children had never made a daisy chain and found it difficult at first but they persisted with got really good at it.

We had lunch break at the top of the hill where we collected hawthorn flowers for our tea. We had a great view of the sky and clouds. The children found lots of animals and faces in the cloud shapes.

Ink Drawing of Oak Leaves.

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Ms. Dungan’s group Drawings.

The children are very aware of their surroundings all the time, on our way down Conor noticed two tree creepers.

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Dalkey School Project/Forest Friday

Session 3

Senior Infants

Meeting at the Pine Grove.

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Each week the children have a different box of natural object on their mats. They are becoming very inventive. The rule is to have at least one body part on the mat. Two groups connected up by stretching their bodies and connecting up with fishing rods they had made.

On our way up to base camp.

Focus Plant – Nettle.

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The children collect nettles on the way up to make nettle tea. During break I told this story.

The sad nettle and the beautiful butterfly

This nettle was really sad because nobody liked him.

Then one day, a beautiful butterfly settled on one of the nettle’s leaves and, instead of saying ‘ow!’ and flying away again, the butterfly just sat there and unfolded her lovely coloured wings and rested there in the sunshine.

Well, the nettle was just bursting with excitement and hardly dared move, in case he frightened the butterfly away.

Eventually the butterfly spoke.

“Why are you so quiet?” She asked the nettle.

” I don’t know what to say,” He replied, ” Nobody’s ever sat on one of my leaves before.”

“I wonder why?” asked the butterfly.

“Because I sting them,” Said the nettle, then added sadly, “I can’t help it.”

“Well,” declared the butterfly, “I think your leaves are very comfortable.”

She paused for a moment, deep in thought.

“I was wondering,” the butterfly said eventually, “If I could ask you a special favour.”

The nettle blushed: nobody had ever asked him a favour before.

“Of course you can,” he whispered.

“I need somewhere safe for my eggs during the winter.”

“Would you like me to look after them?”

“Yes, please,” the butterfly answered, “It would mean taking care of them for the whole winter. Could you do that?”

The nettle quivered with pleasure.

“I’d be honoured,” he said.

And so, that winter, the nettle guarded the butterfly’s eggs. All through the rain and the snow and storms, the nettle kept the eggs safe and dry under its leaves, where no animal would dare try to eat them.

In the spring, as the weather grew warmer, the eggs hatched out into caterpillars and, later, each of these caterpillars turned into a chrysallis. Finally, at long last, in the middle of the summer, each chrysallis hatched into a beautiful new butterfly. It looked so pretty, the nettle could hardly believe his eyes.

“Oh,” The beautiful new butterfly stretched its fresh new wings out to dry in the sunshine, “I do feel hungry.”

“Where will you eat?” asked the nettle.

The beautiful new butterfly flicked its glorious wings lightly. They were a deep red colour, with beautiful patterns along the edges, and had four great big eyes eyes painted on them, blue and white and yellow and black.

“My favourite place,” She said, her wings shimmering in the sunlight, “is the flower of a Buddleia bush.”

There were lots of Buddleia bushes in the meadow, their enormous lilac-coloured flower-cones waving gently in the breeze. The butterfly flitted gracefully over to the nearest of them.

The nettle watched, then looked down at his own plain green leaves. They seemed so dull and boring next to the butterfly, he felt very humble.

As if reading his thoughts, the butterfly looked up and spoke.

“Thank you,” She said, “For looking after me all winter. I think your leaves are the strongest and safest leaves in the whole wide world.”

The nettle blushed with pride. Suddenly, he didn’t feel sad at all.

“What’s your name?” He asked her.

“Why,” She said, settling down to feed, “I’m called a Peacock butterfly.”

Focus – invertebrates

Invertebrates – animals without backbones – Insects, butterflies, dragonflies, spiders, centipedes, beetles, slugs, snails, and worms.  We discussed what invertebrate animals we might find in the forest.

We went on a bug hunt. The children were reminded that they need to search carefully, disturb the surroundings as little as possible, handle only a few, but look at many creatures and replace any logs and stones that they overturn. Look carefully many insects are camouflaged and can be tricky to spot, take it slowly, look very carefully, and be quiet! Rotting logs provide an excellent habitat for a bug hunt. Some beetles need rotting wood to provide food for young grubs as soon as they are hatched. Both slugs and snails like the moist conditions in the damp ground beneath a log. Lift moss on rotting logs to look for tiny spiders and larvae. Look for signs of bugs too, sometimes cobwebs and cocoons and snail trails are just as interesting as the creatures themselves. Notice their natural habitat so they can be returned there. Gently put a selection of bugs in the bug containers.IMG_0930 copy

The children were encouraged to  examine their bugs closely by asking questions such as:

  • What colour is it?
  • Are there patterns on it?
  • How many legs does it have?
  • Does it have wings?
  • Where did you find it?
  • How does it move?
  • Is it eating anything?

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Naol tracked his slug across the page.

They were given drawing materials, (black pens, pencils, and cardboard to  record what they noticed.

The point of this drawing is to remember and notice details about their bug. They might like to draw just the patterns, or a detail rather than the whole bug. They were asked  to make their drawing much bigger than the bug. This makes it easier to put in the details.


Second Class

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Collecting nettles for tea.

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Hand washing before lunch break.

Looking for signs on invertebrates.

Slug or snail trail and holes in leaves.

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Luckily we had a lot of shelter when the heavy rain came down at 1.00pmIMG_0990 copy

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Dalkey School Project/ Forest Friday

Session 2

Senior Infants

The children began this week with their activities on picnic blankets. Each group had a different box from last week.  Once everyone arrived we divided them into their three pre-arranged groups.

Pine Trees

This week our focus tree was the pine. On our way up to the base camp we stopped at different pine trees. We smelt, looked and touched the needles, bark and resin and found lots of pine cones on the ground. Needles were picked and put in our teapot for later.

Up at the base camp we played a memory game – five objects were picked from inside the boundaries and shown to the children. The children were encouraged to use their senses to remember them.  The objects were covered up and the children went off to find matches for the objects.

Our story this week was about the Pine and making a home for animals. Pine and Holly story from –https://www.forestry.gov.uk/pdf/fcms128.pdf/$file/fcms128.pdf

We discussed how we might build shelters for our creatures we created last week.

“Where does your woodland creature live? Look around your base camp. Does he/she live in the high rocks, in the trees, underground or a tepee hut? What will you need to make a cosy home? Do we need to take a foraging walk outside the camp for more materials?”

Some children chose to work together while others were very happy to work on their own home.

At the end we visited each other’s homes. The children were very generous with their praise.

Finishing with a quiet time in the forest.

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Second Class

On the way up to base camp the class also explored pine trees and collected needles for tea. We found other plants we could eat – new beach leaves, wood sorrel and wild garlic.

Free play – skipping with an ivy vine.

While the children were having lunch we played a mystery guess game – I gave clues about an animal and they had to guess.  They also had the story of the Pine and the Holly.

Den building

We discussed how we would make a den and where would be the best place in the base camp. They came up with two suitable places and chose the one that had two trees and a wall to attach the structure on to.

The den had to be –

1) Big enough for someone to sit in

2) Comfy enough for someone to sleep in

3) Have a beautiful view from the entrance.

We started with the structure. We went off to collect very large branches to build the basic structure.IMG_0866 copy The children showed great team work. They put up the basic structure and then we stopped to plan and consider what to do next.

They were given drawing tools – pens and pencils, and card.

During these weeks in the forest I want to develop drawing. Children as this stage often think of drawing as a picture and it should be good/pretty. Over the weeks I would like them to see that drawing can be a way to organise their thoughts and to be able to share ideas by explaining through their drawings.

We sat in a circle so we could share ideas. There were amazing ideas, a skylight to be able to see the leaves of the trees during the day and the night sky, a shelf to put food; wild garlic, beach leaves and wood sorrel on. Beds made of soft leaves etc.IMG_0875 copy

Having shared their drawings they were able to work really well on ideas together.IMG_0894 copy

A clothes line made from an Ivy vine.

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The skylight from inside the den looking up at the leaves.

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A stone plate with wild food and cones for candles.

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Finishing the day with a quiet time.

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Dalkey School Project Forest Friday


Session 1

For those new to the blog, Dlr Creativity in the Classroom joined forces with the Dalkey School Project’s outdoor programme last year. We looked at the aims and objectives of both programmes and decided that they were very compatible.

Two years ago 2014/2015 Ms. Dungan did a pilot project of outdoor education/ forest school with the then senior infant class. Dlr Creativity in the Classroom had already been part of the school curriculum for a few years. Many of the themes overlapped and the children sometimes worked outdoors during their Dlr Creativity in the Classroom sessions, so we decided to work together. This has been a great experience for me and the feedback from children, parents and teachers has been very positive. Senior infants will come to Killiney Hill from 8.30am to 11.00am and second class will come from 11.40am – 2.00pm. for the next nine Fridays. The senior infants class from 2014/2015 have had experience of Forest Fridays during the pilot project. This will interesting to see how that experience informs our programme this year.

Today was an introduction to the programme for the senior infants.

Meeting point – The Pine Grove

The children got dropped at the Pine Grove. There are 5 gathering points on picnic mats. Each mat has a box of natural materials for each group to explore as they wait for the whole class to gather.

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The children were divided into three groups. They will stay in these groups for the nine Fridays.

Journeying up to the base camp the children stop and notice things along the way. IMG_0710 copy

At the base camp the children explored the area.

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The story this week was Mama Africa/Mother Earth

Once upon a time Mama Africa was sitting all alone in the plains, dreaming and breathing, dreaming and breathing. There were no animals then, no insects buzzing around. No creepies crawling. No lions roaring (this is a good moment to involve your listeners and ask them to suggest animals to which you can add a verb)… As the sun warmed the earth and the rains watered the land all kinds of plants grew up around Mama Africa. She gazed at them in wonder. One day Mama Africa pushed her strong hands down into the friendly earth and felt around. She felt something cool, moist and squidgy. When she pulled her hands back out she had some clay in them. She loved the clay and made all kinds of shapes from it. Into the clay she stuck different shaped parts from the plants around her…seeds, buds, branches and twigs. Onto the clay she pressed all kinds of colours and patterns from the plants and rocks.

After she had finished each creation, she put it in the sun to dry. When they were all dry, Mama Africa gave each of them a name and breathed on them. The clay figures came to life and went off to live amongst the plants, walking on the land, flying through blue skies and digging burrows into the earth. And that’s how it came to be that all the animals and people came to live in Africa and some say, deep in the rainforest she is still there, making new creatures every day.

The children created their own creatures. They looked for materials in the base camp and used clay to put it all together.

When their creature was made they chose a place to photograph it in.

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Our focus tree today was the Hawthorn. The children tasted the new leaves and we made tea with them.

Second year

Wow! Yes, to have a programme throughout a school over several years really works. It could be seen today with the second class. Their confidence of engaging with the forest was evident.

Journeying up to the base camp we stopped to notice things.

The children thought that the leaves looked like hands and fingers. They made their own hand leaves.

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At the base camp they had lot of free play to explore their area.

Our story was about our focus tree – the hawthorn.

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Tasting hawthorn leaf. Children used to call it the ‘Bread and Butter Tree’.

Irish Fairies and hawthorn bushes

In Irish folklore, these Lone Bushes are the meeting places of the Fairies and guard the gateway to the otherworld. Irish fairies are believed to be the Tuatha de Danann, one of the first tribes to arrive in Ireland. They were a magical and secretive people and were very skilled crafts people.  They originally lived on ‘the islands in the west’ and had perfected the use of magic. They traveled on a big cloud to the land that later would be called Ireland and settled here.  When warrior tribes like the Milesians began to arrive in Ireland the Tuatha de Danann were defeated in battle but would not be forced to leave. They loved Ireland so much they decided to use their magic to shrink themselves and live underground.  Thus they became the fairies of Ireland ( not at all like the Disney fairies.)  Tunnels are believed to travel all over the country to different fairy villages. Each fairy village is marked by a single hawthorn tree or Lone Bush located nearby.

The name of one of the Tuatha de Danann gods, Eriu, is the name of our land. Eriu or Eire is still used in modern times as the name of Ireland.

The fairies are a secretive people who are blamed for many things which they cannot explain. As a result the fairies like to be left alone and it is considered bad luck to disturb a fairy circle or tree. But, they do love children and if you treat them well they may just grant you a wish at their fairy tree or Lone Bush. If ash and oak and thorn are found together there is much fairy activity there.

We discussed the idea of putting their wishes on the tree. ‘What kind of wishes would they like to put on the tree? What kind of wishes do you have for you, your family, friends, people you love, your home? Close your eyes and think about your wishes’

‘On your rag make drawings or write about your wishes with pen. To add colour you can use plants. Find a big rock to lie out your rag. Place a plant e.g. dandelion on the rag and hammer it with a stone. Try different leaves and plants.’

We hung the wish rags on the tree. We all closed our eyes and sent those wishes to the fairies.

When we finished the children took the wish rags off the tree to bring back to the classroom.

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by | April 28, 2017 · 5:46 pm

Junior and Senior Infants, Holy Family N.S – Week 9- Visit to dlr LexIcon

Great excitement this week as both the Junior Infants and Senior Infants visited the Song of the Sea exhibition at dlr LexIcon Municipal Gallery in Dún Laoghaire. And what an exciting start to the day as the Garda Community bus collected the children and even put on the siren for them!

“Song of the Sea is a visually stunning and moving story of Ben and his little sister Saoirse – the last Seal-child – who embark on a fantastic journey across a fading world of ancient legend and magic in an attempt to return to their home by the sea. This interactive, multi-media exhibition of original drawings, prints, storyboards and , animation, music and scene-realisation provides an imaginative and accessible insight into the movie- making process and reveals what was involved in creating this Oscar nominated film.”

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We had a chat about one of the storyboards looking at the different pictures and noticing that the same images were repeated and the same characters were shown in different positions – this helped us to understand how an animation is made. We talked about their favourite cartoons and how the character eg. Spongebob looks the same throughout a film so the animators have to draw him the same in each scene. We also remembered the monsters and landscapes we had made and how this was kind of like making a scene in a cartoon because we also had a character, a friend and a background.

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We looked at the drawings and paintings that were done on glass also and counted the layers in the picture to see how it was put together. Then we returned to the project room where we made our own stories on concertina books using patterned papers for the backgrounds and came up with a story with a character that would be in the story and repeated through the pages. Beautiful work by both the Junior Infants and Senior Infants and a really enjoyable morning at the LexIcon!

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Junior and Senior Infants – Holy Family NS – Parents Workshop

We had invited in the parents of Junior and Senior Infants to participate in our workshop and help us to finish our scenes. Last week we had made our monsters with moving arms and bouncy legs and now we needed to do the background and add elements to these models and maybe to add some friends. We had a great turn out of parents for both classes and all the parents got stuck in very quickly and we had two very busy workshops and some great creative and imaginative work. The children were able to explain to their parents how they had made their monster and how they might make another one and add to it. At the end we asked a few of the class to tell us a little bit about what they had made and how they had worked with their parents and who made the decisions etc!

I had planned these workshops in preparation for our visit to Song of the Sea exhibition we will be visiting at dlr LexIcon Municipal Gallery so that the children can begin to see how animations are planned with moving parts and planning the background and context of a character.

A great morning had by all! And everyone was very proud of their creations!

Junior Infants’ and Parents’ Workshop

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Senior Infants’ and Parents’ Workshop

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