Dalkey School Project/Forest Friday

Session 7

Pine grove meeting point.


Making Images With Natural Materials.

It’s interesting to see that as each group get a different box each week they create their own ideas, so what they do differs from how those materials were used the week before. This week images and words  were combined with the group who had the sea stones and chalk box. They began with words. A rock labeled so it could be seen camouflaged on a jumper. img_8492-copyThen they made images – turtles and labeled them. Then one child re-labeled his turtle and it became a sun.


Our focus this week was the Mountain Ash and spiders and webs.While looking closely we find lots of interesting other things on the way. Each week it takes us longer to reach our camp as children stop and examine their finds.

We found different shaped webs. We noticed the there were a lot of webs on the hog weed seed heads and on the gorse. We observed the spiders and gently vibrated the webs.There were seeds and flies trapped in some of the webs.Here are some of the things we discussed.


Observe spiders and their webs. Count the spider webs. Notice them. Gently touch the web with a stick so as not to break it but to experience the stickiness and elasticity of the web. Notice the spider. Is it off to the side in a “den”? Is it in the centre? How does it act when you approach? Is there a spider sac in the web?

  • What shape is the web
  • Why do you think it’s that shape?
  • Do you think the silk is all the same?
  • Why does a spider have a web?
  • When an insect gets caught in the web, what happens?
  • Describe the web. Is it crisscrossed? Is it in a sheet? How are the threads held together?
  • Spiders release two types of silk. What is the purpose of each type?

What do you think a spider does when it is frightened?

Creating a string web.garden16

We had a look at this diagram to use as a starting point to making web.

The children worked in pairs.

The pairs were asked to choose three rigid branches to create a string triangle or use a peg to anchor the threads to the ground. Using this frame,they crossed lengths of string from one side to the other.We had discussed that spiders are like fishermen only their nets are air nets instead of sea nets.The aim of their webs was to make the holes small enough so they could trap things. When they had finished they threw leaves at them to see what they could trap.

4th Class.

6th Class.

Our story this week was about Oisín’s birth.In the story we hear how Oisín has to undergo challenges to join the Fianna. He has to run through a forest without disturbing the hair on his head, pluck a thorn out of his foot while running and running under a branch no taller than his knee.

Sixth class create their own challenges by making an obstacle course for each other.


Fourth class practice fox walking.They have to sneak up to the ‘farmer’ who is blindfolded. The do this by learning how to walk like a fox.img_8514-copy




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3rd/ 4th Class – Holy Family N.S – Adding Colour and Texture to Landscapes

A lot of our landscapes from last week had come unstuck so first thing we needed to do this week was to fix them and make them stronger and sturdier. We were going to be adding PVA and tissue paper to them so they would have to be strong enough to take that!

To give us ideas for different colours we might use I showed a slide show of images of different lansdcapes – desert, valley, mountain, underwater, Arctic to illustrate how you could use a range of colours. I also showed how with the tissue paper you can put one colour on top of another to create different colours and shades.

The class got stuck in and worked well together building up colour and form on their landscapes.

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First Class – Holy Family N.S – Mixing Loads of Different Reds, Purples, Pinks and Oranges

We began this week by looking at the schoolyard through the red transparent sheets. We added another red sheet to make it more red, then tried yellow with red, blue with red and green with red to see all the different reds we could see. This week we were going to try and mix these colours in paint. Starting with a sheet of paper we divided it into four spaces by putting three lines of masking tape across the sheet. I gave a demonstration – using just red first I painted a stripe of red, then slowly added a tiny bit of blue to give a reddy purple, then another little dab of blue to make it more purple. I continued across the sheet making more purples.

This was quite a hard task for First Class – it took a lot of time and concentration. But with the help of the teaching staff everyone worked it out and created a range of beautiful reds and purples. We then moved on to yellow with red to make a range of reds and oranges. And then used white to make a range of reds and pinks. The children realised that some colours are stronger than others so you need to mix in more paint – eg. red is stronger than white so it takes a lot of white to make a bright pink. Really lovely work and a lot of concentration and serious mixing from the children!



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Dalkey School Project/Forest Friday

Session 6

Pine grove gathering spot activity.

Focus tree – The Ash

We took a long way up to our camp so we could find ash trees. The children noticed that the leaves were pinnate – a word we learnt from last week having looked at the elder leaf.They had an odd number of leaflets opposite each other.Some had 15 and others had 13. Daisy noticed that there were a lot of black buds. We couldn’t find any seeds called keys on the trees we found but we found them on the ground.

As the weeks go on the sessions are guided by the children’s curiosity. It took a long time to get up to our camp as they constantly stopped to share things they found.Looking and responding is as important as making art.  Discussing pattern, colour and texture makes the children aware of the world around them. They noticed the light through water droplets on the pine, the pattern of the canopy of the leaves, the change of colour of the track up to the camp from the fallen leaves. We stopped for a long time to look at the seed heads of hog weed. Each one had a spider web on them. We watched a spider working his way towards and trapped fly.

Skellig Michael Monastery - Location for Star Wars VII

Skellig Michael Monastery – Location for Star Wars VII

How did the monks of Skellig build circular huts in the 6th century?How would they make a perfect circle?

The children tried out different ways of making circles using their bodies.A young tree as the centre with measured steps was used. One foot as the centre and the other foot marked the circumference. The length of the body was used. All these ideas were difficult as the centre point kept moving.

They tried with tent pegs and string. The monks would have had wooden posts and rope made from straw. They got perfect circles using this method.

Fourth Class Circles.

Sixth Class Circles.

We played some new games, rain sounds and fox walk and read the story ‘ How CuCulann got his name’.

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3rd/4th Class – Holy Family N.S – Week 3 – 3D Landscapes

This was a shorter session today as the school mass was on. So we got stuck in straight away after lunch to begin developing our 3D landscapes – we are still working in pairs and using the maps from last week as our starting point. Using cardboard bases and scrunched up newsprint and masking tape to mould a landscape – islands, mountains, volcanoes, underwater landscapes. The class found this difficult at first but once they started they worked away and built up their landscapes. Next week we will begin by making these landscapes more compact and solid with tape and then cover them using tissue paper and PVA.

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First Class – Holy Family N.S – Week 3 – Telescopes

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Since we went on our walkabout in the first week the class have been asking if they could decorate their telescopes but we did not get a chance since – so this week we decorated them. We began by rolling out one sheet of paper to cover the tube completely and then used smaller pieces of paper to decorate it. Some of the class made some their shapes 3d by folding them and making them pop-up off the telescope. Now we needed to make a lens for the end of the telescope to look through – some of the class had seen the coloured cellophane and thought this would make a good lens to change how we see the world around us. So we stuck sheets of it on the window and played around with layering the colours –  one red on its own was more pink when you looked through it, two reds together would make a deep red, and putting a red and blue together was purple when you looked through it. We might go on another short walkabout next week to try them out!

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Dalkey School Project/ Forest Friday

Session 5

Pine grove activities

Pip made an owl from sea stones.

Our focus tree today was the elder. On our way up to our camp we went on a hike to find an elder tree.img_8113-copy

While looking for elder leaves Elliot found an interesting leaf with lovely colours and the evidence of the journey of a leaf miner. “It’s like a map.”

When we found an elder we examined the leaves. They are pinnate leaves. A pinnate leaf is a compound leaf that attaches to the stem and is divided into smaller leaflets. They can either be even or odd, which is the amount of leaflets contained on the leaf. The elder is odd as it is composed of 5 to 7 oppositely arranged leaflets, which are serrated on the edges. We crushed and smelt them and felt the bark of the tree.There is a different texture on the new branches to the trunk. “The young branches look as if they chicken pox.”

The children made drawings of the pinnate leaves in black pen.

The finished drawings.

At the camp we had elder tea, which I had made the day before using berries, turmeric, cinnamon and honey.

During free play the children went back to working on their shelters from last week.  String was made by taking the leaves from ferns and using the stalks.

The children strung more conkers. They learnt how to tie a figure of eight knot at the end of the string to stop the conker coming off and then challenged each other to a few games.

Ms. Dungan’s 4th class

We’re noticing how often we have southerly winds on a Friday as our base camp is quite exposed in these winds!

We found a natural den of holly and ivy, horse chestnut leaves, spikes mushrooms, a rainbow coloured leaf, dotty fungus sticks and spider webs and snail trails around the mushrooms growing in a fork in a tree.

We found a young horse chestnut tree growing near to the big horse chestnut tree that we studied last week.

We discovered a dead tree that had roots sticking out of the ground which were great for bouncing on.

We noticed the leaves swaying in the wind, that the edges of the elder leaves look like breaking waves, how when you shake a bundle of pine needles together it makes a sound like a rattle, how sheltered and comfy it was where in amongst the elder trees and how the sea looks silvery from our base camp at times.

Free play was rich with creativity and fun. Owen and Alex had done a bit of preliminary work on their den earlier this week and were gathering more branches for it. Abby’s shop was open for some of the time but then turned into a recording studio with Laura. There were societies formed and sticks found.

We played conkers (mostly) according to the rules of the World Conker Championships. We discovered that if the person attempting to strike the other person’s conker held their string a bit shorter, it was less likely to hurt either themselves or anyone else! We also discovered that conkers are difficult to smash.

We’re grateful for being outside in nature, the wind, the cool sticks we found, conkers, strong winds and the trees.

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Elder Drawings.

Sixth Class

The children used black markers to draw the line and shape of the elder leaves and then used natural colour from the plants around them for colour.Some chose leaves with 6 leaflets – we decided that the top leaf is the first to fall off in autumn.

Finished work.

Ms. Dungan’s Sixth class

We learned a new chasing game called fox and rabbit where only 2 rabbits can fit in one burrow.

We noticed and pointed out lots of things to each other such as how feathers fly differently, a conker shaped into a perfect fairy bowl and the squishiness of some fungi.

We played a full game of capture the flag with 2 teams. One person ended up in jail so much that we had to process him with mug shots! Everyone got very active and had great fun.

We co-created a story about a cailleach from the elder tree set in the woods. We tasted elderberries and elderberry tea and looked at how the leaves were arranged. Nearly all the elderberries are gone and the leaves are going fast.

We had a conker tournament which was hard fought. Who was the top conkerer?

We’re grateful for remembering our coats, for having fun with conkers, for playing capture the flag, for amazing speed, for the elderberry tea, for our free play and for the trees.

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