Author Archives: Liz Mc Mahon

Dalkey School Project/Forest Friday

Session 9
This was our last session with Fourth and Sixth Class today.
The children choose their favourite games and where to have their break.IMG_4322 copy

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fourth class

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Sixth Class


Observing Minutiae.
There was a very positive feedback from our day of wandering during session six so today we decided to wander again. This time we chose three different environments; a pine wood, a deciduous wood,and a  rocky place. In each area they looked at the minutiae.

Moving leaves, rocks( carefully and replacing) looking under things they found the tiny details in nature.  Magnifying glasses were used as view finders. These findings were documented through photographs.

All the photos will now be made  into one slideshow to be shown by the teacher to the whole class. The children will respond to the photos remembering where they found the detail and what is fascinating about it and asked is it a fungus, a plant, a lichen, or an insect?


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Dalkey School Project/ Forest Friday

Session 8

Parents Day and Halloween

The children were the leaders for this session on the 27th October. There were a few developments from their plans they made the week before but in general they stuck to them.

Children led their parents to base camp pointing out things on the way.


They taught their parents to play, Bat and Moth and Eagle Eye.

Then brought their parents around the base camp and told them about things they had made during the past 7 weeks, and pointing outtheir special places.

Before break they showed our wonderful washing facilities. IMG_2505

Each child took their parent aside and told Apple Star Story.

The children choose their favourite place up on the rocks with great views to have break. All the parents tasted our Elderberry Tea and there was a great exchange of recipes for the different teas we had made and tasted.


Back at the base camp the children explained  to the parents their plans to make a  Halloween environment. These are the ideas from their planning the week before-

Bonfire, and sparklers.

Obstacles course – jump the bonfire.

Tree Spirits – clay.

Cobwebs – string and sticks

Spiders – pipe cleaners

Headdress – natural materials – wire

Hanging Apples


Ghosts – paper and charcoal.

Off they went and worked in their pairs.






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Dalkey School Project/Forest Friday

Session 7

This week we had to inspect the trees for loose branches on our way up to base camp after hurricane Ophelia on Monday. The children noticed lots more small branches and twigs on the ground and some fallen trees.

We spent this session preparing for our parents session next week which will have a halloween theme. During the week in school they looked at a slide show of work they made in the forest two years ago to inspire them with ideas today.

The children practiced story telling. They recapped from memory the story they were told during session 4 – The Apple Star Story and between them built up the full story. They will each be able to tell their parent this story next week.


The group chose ‘Moth and Bat’ game to play with parents. They tried it out with different sounds and three and four moths.IMG_2297 copy

The parents are going to have a great session next week as the children have planned exciting Halloween ideas. The had some basic materials to try out their ideas; clay, string, paper, charcoal and wire.

Below – Making Sparklers.

Below – Making a Bonfire and a game they have called- Jump the Bonfire.

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Below – Making costumes with nature.

Below – Scary Tree Masks

Below Spiders and Webs

Below – Ghosts

Below – Bodies rising from the earth.

IMG_2318 copySixth class enjoyed rock climbing so much last week that we had our lunch up at the rocks and they had some free play time to explore or sit.




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Dalkey School/Forest Friday

Session 6

Theme – Wandering and MappingIMG_4110

We began with a new game to use our senses and build up trust.

Bat and Moth

  • Form the group in a circle and ask for a volunteer to be the bat and another to be the moth
  • The rest of the group become the cave wall
  • Get the bat and moth each to make up a call for themselves – keep the sounds simple
  • The bat has to catch the moth, using sound rather than sight. Every time the bat calls, the moth must reply immediately.
  • The players forming the cave wall must also make the sound back to the bat, if he/she calls while close to the wall

During the sessions the children have been asking to explore parts of Killiney hill that they haven’t been to, so today are theme was wandering.

The idea is that the children get to  follow their curiosity.  The children chose and agreed on when and where and how to wander.



They used the compass throughout their wandering to orientate themselves.

They worked out which way the wind was coming from. Oliver decided it must be from Spain as he faced the South and felt warm wind on his face.

Map making

The children were asked-

‘To make a map what information do we need?

Perceive the landscape from a bird’s eye view.

Discuss what is permanent in the landscape and what is temporary.

Mark in N.S.E.and W. Mark in big permanent features of Killiney Hill.

Come up with your own names for different places as you do when walking to base camp.”

Children wandered and chose when to stop and where. They stopped regularly to map along the way.

Fourth Class


The children stopped regularly to inspect new things along the way.

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Sixth Class

The children chose to visit Eagle Rock.They took turns leading in groups of 2 and 3. It was very exciting and exhilarating as the rock is up a very steep track and there were gasps of amazement and appreciation of the view.

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IMG_4159Sit Spot

The children were grateful to have a quiet time to finish their maps and rest in the sun.

Reflection circle:

I am grateful for

Going wandering about the hill

I noticed it was really warm

The wind came from the south


I am grateful for

When someone would lead somewhere

You would find something good at that spot


I am grateful

That we were good at staying together

I liked making maps

And leaving base camp


I am grateful for

Going to the eagle

I noticed the cliffs


I am grateful for

the beautiful weather

That we all worked together


I am grateful for

Daragh showing us the eagle eye

Ollie showing everyone the way down


I am grateful for

permission to go right to the top

and the nice views


I am grateful for

The group coming together

Patience showing me where to put my feet


I am grateful

we have been a really good group.


Mr. Doohan’s Group


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Dalkey School Project/ Forest Friday

Session 5

The children were shown a slide show yesterday in school on Land Art, the Spiral Jetta by Robert Smithson, work by Andy Goldsworthy and Land Art they made two years ago on Forest Friday. The slide show then introduced them to the mobiles of Alexander Calder. Mobile c.1932 by Alexander Calder 1898-1976

Today we discussed the work they saw in the slide show and how they might make a mobile from objects in the forest. On our way up to the base camp we took new routes and gathered things for their mobile sculptures.

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During free play time one child made a piece of Land Art.

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Story:  Anxious leaf

Once upon a time a little leaf was heard to sigh and cry, as leaves often do when a gentle wind is about. And the twig said, “What is the matter, little leaf?” And the leaf said, “The wind just told me that one day it would pull me off and throw me down to die on the ground!”

The twig told it to the branch on which it grew, and the branch told it to the tree. And when the tree heard it, it rustled all over, and sent back word to the leaf, “Do not be afraid. Hold on tightly, and you shall not go till you want to.”

And so the leaf stopped sighing, but went on nestling and singing. Every time the tree shook itself and stirred up all its leaves, the branches shook themselves, and the little twig shook itself, and the little leaf danced up and down merrily, as if nothing could ever pull it off. And so it grew all summer long, till October.

And when the bright days of autumn came the little leaf saw all the leaves around becoming very beautiful. Some were yellow and some scarlet, and some striped with both colours. Then it asked the tree what it meant. And the tree said, “All these leaves are getting ready to fly away, and they have put on these beautiful colours because of joy.”

Then the little leaf began to want to go, too, and grew very beautiful in thinking of it, and when it was very gay in colour it saw that the branches of the tree had no bright colour in them, and so the leaf said, “O branches! why are you lead-colour and we golden?”

“We must keep on our work-clothes, for our life is not done – but your clothes are for holiday, because your tasks are over,” said the branches.

Just then a little puff of wind came, and the leaf let go, without thinking of it, and the wind took it up and turned it over and over, and whirled it like a spark of fire in the air, and then it dropped gently down under the edge of the fence, among hundreds of leaves, and fell into a dream, and it never woke up to tell what it dreamed about.


They children were asked to create a piece of land art/mobile inspired from the slide show and to have

–          Something hanging

–          Uses a knot

–          Has some symmetry

The had a look at the tools and materials available to them. String, scissors, wire, pliers and a palm drill.

They noticed that some acorns were beginning to sprout.

Even with a broken arm, beautiful work was made.

Miriam’s group composed a lovely poem together at the end of their session.

I am grateful for

rustling above me, a squirrel

a wind like an earthquake

autumn time, the pretty leaves

looking up, trees swaying in the wind

looking down, smooth leaves, crunchy leaves

branches hanging like a waterfall

how peaceful it was

I heard the wind in the leaves and sticks

I heard the birds whistling

woodlouse crawling on the ground

a dog barking

magpies flying, blue and white and black.

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Dalkey School Project/Forest Friday

Session 4

Continued focus on the Apple.

On the way up to our base camp the children collected fruits/nuts and leaves from the trees.IMG_1892 copy

Matching game: At the base camp everyone laid out their collections.Using their information sheets they matched the leaf with the fruit/nut.

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We went to the top of the hill today for lunch as the weather was lovely and the children were able to get a sense of place. They pointed our to each places the know and where they and their relations live.

Story Telling

In pairs the children read each other last weeks story and then told the story in their own words.

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Focus –Apple life cycle land art & book.

Apple life cycle:

Bare Trees

Winter for an apple tree is very important. This is when the tree stops using its energy to produce leaves, buds and apples. Instead, this leafless tree sleeps, storing all of its energy for when things warm up. The colder it is, the better and deeper the tree sleeps, and the more energy it can save to burst into life in the spring.

First Leaves

Having had a good sleep, all leaves on the trees will begin to wake up in Spring.


Apple blossom in later Spring gives the first indication of how well the apple tree will produce that year. Each blossom represents an apple. The stem of the flower will become the apple stalk and the middle of the flower will become the fluffy bottom of the apple.


Bees play an important role. They go from flower to flower taking the pollen of one tree to the flower of another. If they didn’t do this apples wouldn’t form.

Baby Apples growing

Over the summer, they begin to change colour and the amount of sugar in the apples builds up. The fruit falls off the tree and begins to decay.

Spreading Seeds.

Birds and animals eat the fruit but only the juicy part is digested. The pips pass through the animal’s digestive system and is excreted; this can be far away from the parent plant.

A New Tree

Seedlings grow from the seeds far from the parent plant. The apple tree grows to adult size and on goes the cycle.

Land Art.

In pairs the children worked on an part of the cycle. We had, first leaves. blossom, bees, apples and saplings. Using sticks, leaves, plants, pine cones, they drew the cycle of the apple tree in a circle.

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Telling the apple cycle through illustration.

Each child was given an accordion book. This book can be displayed in a folded out circular form, therefore there is no beginning and no end. The children were asked;

”Notice that there are 6 pages in your book and a cover. Using pen or pencil you are going to make a drawing of the apple tree cycle in your book. Look at your land art and work out what you are going to draw on each page to show the cycle.”

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Dalkey School Project/Forest Friday

Session 3

Pine Grove Gathering Time

The children learnt two new knots this week.

On our way up to our Base camp the children gathered leaves of the various trees we pass a

on the way up. At the camp they laid out the leaves to map our journey.

During free play they children really notice things in the forest and show and discuss their findings with each other.

Our Focus this week was the Apple. The all enjoyed tasting crab apple tea.


Apple Star

Once upon a time, a very long time ago, there was a baby apple tree, a seedling with small roots and no branches to speak of.

 One night, the little apple sprout looked up into the night sky and admired the beautiful stars. The little apple sprout wanted so badly to reach up and touch them, so it stretched and stretched and stretched… until it was a great apple tree.

 But as much as the great apple tree stretched, it still could not reach the stars. The great apple tree began to cry, it was so sad that it could not touch the beautiful stars. A star fairy heard the great apple tree cry, and flew down to ask what was wrong.

 The great apple tree cried, “Oh, star fairy, I want to touch the stars! But I am way down here and they are way up there!” The star fairy thought for a moment and said, “Great apple tree, I will bring you back a star, but the stars live very far away so it will be awhile before I return.” And with that, the star fairy flew back up into the sky, leaving the great apple tree in wonder.

 With spring, the great apple tree had beautiful green leaves and pink flowers, but still could not touch the stars.

 And then with summer, the pink flowers grew turned white, just like the bright stars, and began to turn into tiny apples, but the great apple tree still could not touch the stars.

 And then with autumn, the tiny apples grew bigger and bigger and bigger… until they were ready to eat! The great apple tree was so proud of its apples that it forgot all about the stars, until one day when the star fairy came back.

 “I brought you a basket of stars,” said the star fairy, “but your branches are full of apples! How would you ever hold them?”

 “Oh, thank you, Star Fairy,” exclaimed the Great Apple Tree, “but I no longer need the stars. My apples fill up my branches and are so pretty, I couldn’t bear to part with them.”

 The Star Fairy thought for a moment and then said, “I will give each of your apples a star, hidden deep within, and every time a child cuts open an apple, she will see a beautiful star!”

 And with that, the Star Fairy touched her wand to every apple and planted deep within it a star.  IMG_1883 copy

We were all amazed as we had never cut an apple across in this direction.

Fourth Class.

Using their knotting skills fourth class made hammocks. They decided to work in groups.One group used blackberries to add colour.

Sixth Class spent time first practicing the Larks Foot knot and the Square knot before working on their hammocks.IMG_1884 copy

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