3rd/4th Class – Holy Family N.S – Week 2 – Mapping Imaginary Landscapes

We began today by refreshing ourselves on what we had done last week for the students who were not in last week by looking at the blog. Then we talked about who uses maps and why we use maps – pirates, tourists, sailors, hikers, lumberjacks, drivers etc. What sort of a landscape could be on a map? Our maps were of the area local to the school – so an urban area. But you could have a forest landscape, caves, desert, islands, countries, cities, underwater, space, lunar landscape, mountains, valleys, arctic, volcanic landscape.

Working in pair the class were to draw a map of their imagined landscape – this involved a lot of discussion with their partners to decide on the landscape they were going to map. It took a while for the class to understand that this was a map – so an aerial or birds eye view of the landscape – and not a picture of what the landscape looked like. After break we had a look at some ancient maps to see how they are drawn and what features and detail could be included on their maps. So after a couple of attempts we got going and great maps began to emerge!

We finished the session by asking a selection of pairs to show us their maps and take suggestions of details that could be added to their maps.

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First Class – Holy Family N.S – Week 2 – Mapping Our Journey to School

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This week we were going to map our journey to school – we began by closing our eyes and thinking about all the twists and turns we make as we come to school – going straight, turning left, turning right, going around the roundabout, up the road, down the street and through the gates of the school. Each child then drew the route they take and then we had a big chat about all the things we see around us. Then using different colour papers we cut out shapes of all the things we see and stuck them onto our map. What a lot of things we see! Everyone took their time and built up very detailed and colourful maps.

Peter discovered as he worked that if he folded the paper he could make his tree stand up in 3D off his paper! He was so proud of what he had created and started develop onto his house using tracing paper rolled up tracing paper  to create smoke coming from the chimney of his house on which he had cut out windows and a door that opened and closed! Fantastic! Stephen got inspiration from this and started rolling his paper to make it stand off his map. Then Rebecca used the tracing paper to make the waves on the beach near her house on her map. First Class worked for nearly two hours on their maps adding on shapes and some maps exploded off the edges of the sheet! Great morning!

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Dalkey School Project/Forest Friday

Session 3

Fourth Class

Pine grove meeting activity.


Each group was given mixed materials of sticks, pine cones, string and pipe cleaners to make whatever they liked together.This session only lasts 5 – 10 minutes as all children gather in the morning.

The children noticed much more this week.On our way up to our camp they kept stopping and finding new things to explore.They found oak apples, acorns, a puffball (which we puffed) and pale ivy leaves, which we wondered why they weren’t dark green like the leaves around them.

David was so quiet up at the camp that a robin came right up to him. It was  really exciting for all of us when we saw two red squirrels on the tree in our camp, then and one ran  right passed us through the gap in the wall.

We collected bramble leaves on the way up and made bramble leaf tea.The children really enjoy making their own tea from the forest.

Having played a few games of Eagle Eye, and also having had free play and a bramble tea break with a snack, the children went on a walk to forage for  materials to make little huts. We discussed materials that we would need. What would be good for structure,and what would they need to make it waterproof.


Foraging for materials in the woods

They found dead branches of an elder tree. These are great to work with because you can add other smaller branches as the elder has a soft pith in the centre and sticks can be shoved into it.

Here they are testing the waterproof quality of the huts by spraying them with water. They put their hands in as someone sprayed water on the roof.

“Yes, it’s dry”

Finishing with a ‘Sit spot’.Kacie noticed that the sun shining through the trees came and went on her face.


Ms. Dungan’s fourth class group.

We picked (literally) hundreds of blackberries and made some of them into tea and others in dye. img_0367

We played the drums using sticks and cut tree trunks. Where you hit the trunk and what stick you used made a difference.

We met a seven spotted ladybird who brought life to one of the dens.img_0410

We had a shop where I bought two sticks and was given change from my large rock (100 euro) of 1 large pine cone, 1 small pine cone, 2 medium rocks and a small rock.img_0396

We found loads of ways of making different colours using what was around us.

We had our sit spot in the sun.

We watched 2 beautiful grey crow swoop and fly in the gusty wind; so close we could see each feather and how they closed and opened their wings and used their legs.img_0404

(Sit spot) I noticed
– there were black burnt sticks around me
– I got stung by a thorn
– I saw a caterpillar
– I saw the reflection on the sea in the middle of it
– there was a massive rock that I really wanted to climb
– that it was really really sunny and I fell asleep
– that there had been a fire
– the birds flying through the wind
– there’s a path below us

I’m grateful:
– to having the sea so close to us
– for nature, the plants and the animals
– for life and finding a ladybird in our shelter
– for making a shelter and finally finding a bug that I like. I normally only like birds and bees but I like the ladybird.
– for the rocks
– finding a rock that was really nice
– blackberries
– for being up here instead of in the classroom
– finding sticks and using them to build a big shelter and using other things around us too

Sixth Class.


Tasting bramble leaf tea.

Jumping game, during free play time.




Sixth class looked at the bramble bushes.They’re not really bushes, all the individual stalks cross over each other creating a thick bush like shape.They observed the details.We set up a drawing and print workshop beside the bramble bushes.

They used black markers on large sheets of card to draw the stalks.There were a lot of leaves and some berries. I showed how they could make many leaves and berries by making print blocks by drawing into foam with biros.1 They cut out the shape of the foam and glued it to light card. With each block they could make multiplies of berries and leaves by inking up each block and printing it over and over again.

The finished work.


Ms. Dungan’s sixth class.

We hung out in the trees.img_0460

We balanced and jumped and had fun together.img_0499

We used brambles as our inspiration and used plants as our natural dyes. (elderberry, blackberry, plantain, fern, rotten wood, charcoal (burnt gorse), herb robert amongst others)

We observed and noticed things. e.g Some rotten wood makes a lovely brown/yellow charcoal effect. The lines on the bramble leaf go diagonal from the stalk.

I noticed during our sit spot:
– the tree I was sitting in had a really cool canopy and looked easy to climb
– that in different parts of my tree the wind was super strong and in other parts it wasn’t
– I had the pine needles in my hand and facing it towards the way the wind wasn’t blowing and it just flew and away and it was cool
– that there was a gap in the trees above my head and there was a bird flying back and forth
– that that tree over there has a strangely shaped branch
– that there are different levels in the twig
– that I kept on sliding down the tree trunk I was sitting on
– that there was a tree sheltering me from the wind
– that the rock was slippy and I almost fell into the brambles
– the birds singing
– one of the pine cones falling from one of the pine cone trees here

I’m grateful for:
– the blackberries and the food. I just love food
– all the trees especially the ones you can sit on
– the tree that sheltered me from the wind
– for being able to sit out on the rocks for lunch outside of base camp
– my coat!
– I found a really good hiding space for camouflage
– the view



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3rd/ 4th Class – Holy Family N.S, Monkstown – Mapping the Land

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First week with Ms.Fahy’s 3rd and 4th Class – this is a big class group of 32 and I know both classes well as have worked with them since Senior Infants. As with First Class we will be going to see the Lines of Negotiation: Mapping the Land exhibition at DLR LexIcon in session four which is all about artists mapping the local landscape of Dún Laoghaire – so we are going to explore mapping through drawing and construction. We began with talking about what we use maps for and what we see on a map. Usually on maps it shows us things we can see but we were going to go on an exploratory walk of the area using all our senses (except taste) – so we talked about sound, smell and touch. What different sounds we might hear, what different smells we might experience and different textures we might feel under our feet as we walked on our exploratory journey.

So we began in the school yard listening for sounds, smelling and touching the textures around us. And as we way we moved slowly along our way we stopped at different points taking in our surroundings – using our notebooks to draw images of what we experienced. How do you draw the sound of the wind? What does the smell of fresh grass look like?

We walked all the way to Monkstown Castle and what a beautiful September morning it was! Beautiful warm sunshine and conkers falling off the trees! When we got back to the school we had break then working in pairs tried to map our journey – layering together all the images we had gathered in our notebooks. Great group work by the whole class!

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First Class – Holy Family N.S, Monkstown – Week 1 – Mapping the Land

First week with Ms.Henry’s First Class! I have not worked with this class since Junior Infants so we had a chat about what we remembered from our exhibition visit to IMMA – they remembered the eggs from the Dorothy Cross exhibition Trove at IMMA. In session four we are going to visit Lines of Negotiation Exhibition at DLR LexIcon which is all about artists mapping the local landscape of Dún Laoghaire . So we talked about maps – pirate maps with X marking the spot, maps to show you where to go, maps not on paper, google maps on a screen, how you can see streets and houses. We were going to walk around the area around the school and not just gather shapes of things you could see but also sounds we could hear at different points on our journey. We used cardboard tubes as telescopes to help us see things far away and close up and focus what we were looking at. So off we went on our walk of exploration gathering sights and sounds!

When we got back to class we talked and compared the shapes, colour and sounds we had seen and heard. Then working in pairs we drew out our journey as a map and using our notebooks drew in the shapes, sounds and colours we had discovered and collected. We are going to focus on colour and paint over the next couple of sessions using our maps as a starting point.

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Dalkey School Project/Forest Friday.

Session 2

Fourth Class.

Pine Grove meeting point activity.

This week they children got time to play with the games of Xs and Os that they made last week. Each pair got a score card to fill in and the best of 5 games wins.

Our focus plant this week was the bramble or blackberry. On the way up to the base camp the children feasted on blackberries and collected more to make blackberry tea.

Sixth class made a game of throwing blackberries into each others mouths.

At the camp we made blackberry in tea in a lovely new tin tea maker.I bought this last week from a traveller who is one of the few people left making tin wear.

It is perfect for our forest teas. The children took turns swinging it in 360 degrees to mix up our tea well.

Fourth Class

Observing Brambles

We looked at the whole bramble bush closely. When we were picking blackberries we were only concentrating on the ripe fruit. Now we looked at the leaves, stalks, thorns and the berries at each stage of their growth. We didn’t find any flowers. The children were surprised that there are thorns on the base stalk of each leaf. We found some leaf miners on some of the leaves.I read Seamus Heaney’s  poem, Blackberry Picking to them.

Having looked closely and discussed what we found the children made observational drawings of the plants using black markers.

They added colour by using the berries and the leaves. Some children found that Plantain leaves made a better green than the bramble leaves.

The completed  work.

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Ms. Dungan’s 4th class

Jack found a piece of rotten wood which broke in half easily and we made the link between that and why we always check that a branch is living (by making sure there are living leaves on the end) before climbing on it. img_0175

We smelt mushrooms and decided not to eat the ‘marshmallow’ on a stick!

We bowed to the lords and ladies in the briar patch.img_0181

We felt how prickly the outer casing of a conker is! img_0185-1

We felt how sticky pine resin is and noticed how nice it smelled.

We found evidence of leaf miners on the bramble leaves.img_0192-1

We created mini dens from sticks and other natural found objects.

We had fun together.

We had our lunch on the rocks. img_0231

We appreciated the view and our friends and getting the chance to be in nature and a little woodlouse that was crawling on Benan’s hands.

Sixth class art work

Sixth class made shelters for the stick creatures they made last week. They had put their creatures into hides last week. Some had survived and others hadn’t.

The decided to work together on one shelter. Everyone started with great enthusiasm but without any planning. It was a good start but needed a stop,look, discuss and plan. After that the planning went much better. The group divided into two which gave room for everyone to work together.

The completed shelters

Ms.Dungan’s sixth class

We found burnt wood that had been made into charcoal and wrote our names with it.

We observed things on the way to base camp like a nest.img_0256

We looked closely at blackberry leaves and found a leaf miner’s trail and also lots of little hairs on them.img_0258

We tasted blackberry tea. img_0305

We made a plant sing!img_0299

And found a moth img_0302

We made debris dens which were nearly waterproof!

We had our lunch and our sit spot on the rocks with amazing views.img_0303

We were grateful for getting to make things and be with our friends in nature and the beautiful views and the plants and the blackberry tea and the sunshine.

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Dalkey School Project/Forest Friday

Session 1

A new school year begins with two new groups today. Having evaluated last years groups we have decided to start with 4th and 6th classes this term.Both these classes have taken part in Creativity in the Classroom twice in their schools years.

Our aim today was to introduce them to the Forest Friday structure.

Fourth class will be delivered to the forest every Friday morning at 8.30am. Their session will finish at 11.00am and they will walk back to school with their class teacher – Mr. Mannion.

Sixth class will walk from school with their teacher – Mr. Doohan each Friday to arrive at the forest at 11.30.They will be collected by their parents at 2.00pm.

Fourth Class.

Pine Grove Meeting Point Activity.

The children arrive at different times between 8.30 – 8.40. Each week we will set up tasks for the children to work on in their table groups (from the classroom).

We set up 5 picnic blankets in the Pine grove. As the children arrived they were asked to go to the blanket that corresponded to their tables in their classroom.  Each blanket had a bucket with sticks, pine cones and pipe cleaners and a drawing of a game of Xs and Os. The children were asked to find a partner and to make a game of Xs and Os from the materials. If they got it finished they could play a game. Also there were maths questions on the back of the drawing for them to solve.

When everyone  had arrived the children were divided into three groups of ten.They will stay in these groups each Friday. The groups will be led by Mr. Mannion, Ms. Dungan and me. Each group will have their own base camp.

Sixth class

Sixth class were also divided into 3 groups. The are led by Mr. Doohan, Ms.Dungan and me.

Fourth and Sixth class

Today was time to introduce the children to their leader and their base camp. On our way to the camp we made regular stops and used all our senses to notice things.

The children mapped their way by naming landmarks.They also measured large trees on the way using their arms and compared their width.

At the camp the children marked out boundaries with ribbon.

We played Eagle Eye.

They had time for free play to explore the space.

We returned down hill again to an area of mixed pine trees.The children smelt the pine needles and touched the sticky sap. We collected needles and brought them back to our camp to make pine needle tea for break time.

img_6961 After break I told the story The Bundle of Sticks, an Aesop’s Fable.

This story has good audience participation.They each had to collect two sticks.It is a great story to tell in the forest with good advise for working in a group.

We continued the stick theme. Each child was asked to find a stick and create a creature from it by adding other natural objects. They were given a little clay to connect the objects together.

Fourth Class

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Sixth Class.

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Sixth Class.

I collected 7 items within the boundaries. They were given some time to examine the objects and then they were covered. In pairs they went off to find similar objects to bring back.


Finally we finished with a quiet time. Each child found a place where they couldn’t see anyone else to sit quietly and look, listen and smell the forest.


We gathered in a circle to share our experiences of the session. All the children gave very positive feedbacks.

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