Author Archives: Liz Mc Mahon

Dalkey School Project/Forest Friday

Session 9

Today the children invited their parents to join them in the forest. The children were the leaders for their parents.

Senior Infants

Pine Grove Meeting Point

Children and parents each got a circle of plastic to draw a cloud on. They swapped circles and each had to find a shape of something in the cloud and draw in the details. Many people found animals and monsters in their clouds.

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When all the children and adults gathered into their groups. the children led their parents up to their base camps.IMG_1330 copy

The children showed their parents how to play their favourite game – Eagle Eye and then had free play. During this time most children and parents built dens.

After snack break we played the mystery guess game – Who nose?


We collected hawthorn leaves and made tea.


How the dragonfly came to be (Bulgarian folktale)

God had been very busy. She had been making all kinds of creatures for days. She thought it was time that she sat back in her chair in her workshop and had a bit of a rest because her materials were beginning to run and she was beginning to run out of creativity. Poor thing. So there she was, sitting back, dozing off (sound effects) when …

Ribbit, flop, ribbit, flop, … into her workshop came a frog.

“Uh, God, hello, uh, you’ve given me these really weird eyes. Whenever I look out of them, I see hundreds of things. I’m never sure if I’m looking at one thing or what’s going on. It makes catching dinner very tricky. Is there any chance you could replace them with something that I could just see one thing out of?”

God woke up and looked down and saw that yes indeed the frog had very odd looking eyes.

“Well, yes, you see, I’ve only got one pair of eyes left and they’re still a bit damp. I haven’t quite finished them. You can have those. Is that alright?”

“Oh yes. Anything will do. Thanks God.”

So God reached forward and she pulled out the eyes that were there and popped them on her workbench. And he got the ones that weren’t quite ready yet and popped them into the frog’s eyes.

The frog wiped his eyes a little bit as they were a bit damp. And when he opened them he saw clearly for the first time.

“Thank you so much God. I’m off to get some dinner as I haven’t been able to catch anything.”

Ribbit, ribbit, ribbit.

God was very happy because she had a satisfied customer and dozed off in her armchair when…

Bzzzz, spluh, bzzzz, spluhh….

Closer and closer came a very small, fairy like insect with very large wings. Closer and closer towards the workshop, into the door frame and in onto the workbench came this creature. God opened her eyes and saw a bumble bee with very large wings.

“God, god, em, these wings are terrible. I can’t fly with them. Is there any chance you could take them off and put some smaller ones on because I just can’t control them. “

God looked at the wings and said, “Ah, yes, they do look a little bit big. Um, yes I do have some very small ones. I’m not sure that they’ll be quite big enough but we can try.”

“Oh anything will do. It’s gotta be better than these ones.”

God reached forward and slowly took the four wings out of the bee and there they were. He put them back on the bench and reached into the drawer where there were four little wings and popped them onto the bee.

“Oh, that’s much better. Thank you so much. Thanks God. Bzzzzz, bzzzzz, bzzzzz.”

God was very happy and could hear the happy birds singing outside as well and she thought I do love some of these sounds and she drifted off listening…(snoring). And just then …. Stumble, stumble, trip, stumble, stumble, trip …..

“Oh God. God. Are you awake? Oh bother.”

Closer and closer came a little ball of a body with loads of legs sticking out of it.

“God, wake up. You’ve asked me to go and make webs but I can’t make anything. I’ve got way too many legs. They keep on getting into a tangle. Can you take some of them off?”

God looked down at the floor and climbing up the side of the workbench was a spider and it had loads of legs.

“Oh, sorry”, said God, “em, I can take a few off if you have too many.”

“Oh yes. Definitely. I think I’ve got 14 but I’m not sure. Perhaps, take off 6. That leaves me with 8. I might be able to manage with them.”

God reached down and carefully plucked off 6 legs and put them carefully on the workbench.

“Oh that’s fantastic. Thanks God. I’ll have much more success now.”

And off went spider happy and co-ordinated.

So God leaned back in her armchair and looked out into the world and thought there were so many beautiful things out there and fell back asleep. (snoring) And she was just drifting off when a complainy, whingy voice got closer and closer….

“God, God. It’s just not fair. Everyone keeps on picking on me. Can you give me a different coloured tail. I’ve got this bright blue tail and all the birds keep on coming down and pecking at it and poking at it and I don’t feel good about myself at all. Sometimes the tail just drops off and it just wriggles there and I think oh what’s happening and another grows back but it’s the same colour. Is there any chance you could give me a different colour tail and the birds won’t pick on me?”

God opened her eyes and said, “you poor thing lizard. Yes, I’m sure I’ve got one here. I’ve got a brown one. It’s not very brightly coloured but how about that?”

“Oh that’d be great.”

So God reached forward and plucked out the lizard’s long blue tail and plopped it on the work bench and gave lizard a long brown one and fixed it in and made sure it waggled properly.

Lizard looked around and said, “oh that’s much better. Stripy and brown. Thank you so much.” And off he went into the distance.

God looked around and saw the piles of things on her workbench and thought there was enough there to make another creature. (Here the storyteller used pine cones, sticks and leaves to show how the creature was made.)

IMG_1392 copy She dug in and picked up the two big googly eyes and stuck them into the ground and then added the legs 1,2,3,4,5,6. And then there was the tail. And finally the wings.

And God thought, that looks pretty good and breathed magic breath into it. And there was a dragon fly and off it went out to hunt on the ponds and around the lakes.

Minibeast Hunt

The children brought their parents on a  bug hunt

‘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.’

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Using pencils and cardboard they drew things they noticed about their bugs.

Land Art

With this information they went foraging to find textures and colours to make their bug on the forest floor using forest materials.


Sit spot – a time of quiet.IMG_1389 copy

Second Class

Teaching parents the rules for Eagle Eye.IMG_1391 copy

Collecting minibeasts.

Observation and drawing minibeasts

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Land Art

Sit SpotIMG_1443 copy

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Dalkey School Project/ Forest Friday

Session 8

Pine Grove Meeting

The children drew leaves from trees that they have been exploring over the past few weeks. These will go into their Forest Friday scrapbooks.

Our Focus Plant – Herb Robert – Also known as Red Robin, stinking bob, Death come quickly, Storksbill, Dove’s Foot, Crow’s Foot, Fox Geranium, bloodwort or Robert Geranium. Is a geranium in the Cranesbill family.  Fresh leaves and flowers can be eaten or made into a tea. Rubbing fresh leaves on the skin is said to repel mosquitoes, and the entire plant repels rabbits and deer. Full of vitamin B and C and a good source of minerals such as calcium, magnesium and iron. It has strong antioxidant properties, boosting the immune system.

Herb Robert Tea.

Story – The Rainbow Story

Once upon a time the colours of the world started to quarrel: all claimed that they were the best, the most important, the most useful, the favorite.

Green said: “Clearly I am the most important. I am the sign of life and of hope. I was chosen for grass, leaves, trees–without me, all animals would die. Look out over the countryside and you will see that I am in the majority.”

Blue interrupted: “You only think about the Earth, but consider the sky and sea. It is the water that is the basis of life and drawn up by the clouds from the deep sea. The sky gives space and peace and serenity. Without my peace, you would all be nothing.”

Yellow chuckled. “You are all so serious. I bring laughter, gaiety, and warmth to the world. The sun is yellow, the moon is yellow, the stars are yellow. Ever time you look at a sunflower, the whole world starts to smile. Without me, there would be no fun.”

Orange started next to blow her temper. “I am the color of health and strength. I may be scarce but I am precious for I serve the needs of human life. I carry the most important vitamins. Think of carrots, pumpkins, oranges, mangos, and pawpaws. I don’t hang around all the time, but when I fill the sky at sunrise or sunset, my beauty is so striking that no one gives another thought to any of you.”

Red could stand it no longer. He shouted out: “I am the ruler of all of you. I am blood! Life’s blood. I am the color of danger and of bravery. I am willing to fight for a cause. I bring fire to the blood! I am the color of passion and of love, the red rose, the poppy and the poinsettia. Without me, the earth would be as empty as the moon!”

Purple rose up to his full height. He was very tall and spoke with great pomp: “I am the color of royalty and power. Kings, chiefs, and bishops have always chosen me for I am a sign of authority and wisdom. People do not question me. They obey.”

Finally, Indigo spoke, much more quietly than all the others but with just as much determination: “think of me. I am the color of silence. You hardly notice me, but without me, you all become superficial. I represent thought and reflection, twilight and deep water. You need me for balance and contrast, for prayer and inner peace.”

And so all the colors went on boasting and quarreling, each convinced of their own superiority. Soon, their quarreling became louder and louder. Suddenly there was a startling flash of bright lightening! Thunder rolled and boomed! Rain started to pour down relentlessly. The colors crouched down in fear drawing close to one another for comfort.

In the midst of the clamor, Rain began to speak: “You foolish colors, fighting amongst yourselves, each trying to dominate the rest. Don’t you know you were each made for a special purpose, unique and different? Join hands with one another and come to me.”

Doing as they were told, the colors united and joined hands. The rain continued: “From now on, when it rains, each of you will stretch across the sky in a great bow of colors as a reminder that you can all live in peace. The rainbow is a sign of hope for tomorrow.”

And so, whenever a good rain washes the world and a rainbow appears in the sky, let us remember to appreciate one another.

Focus – 40 shades of greenIMG_1278 copyIMG_1313 copy

Matching Colours

The children worked in pairs. Each pair was be given a card with a variety of greens on it and a strip of double sided tape.

The children were asked to find as many greens to match the colours on the card and reminded to take care of plants (only pick something if there’s 10 of them you’re leaving behind)

Senior Infants

Second Class

Mixing Colours

The children worked in pairs. They were asked to mix many greens and see could we find 40.

Senior Infants

Second Class

Second Class made 64 shades of green so Debbie, who was singing the Johnny Cash song

‘ Forty Shades of Green’ had to change it to ‘ Sixty Four Shades of Green’
















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Dalkey School Project/ Forest Friday

Session 7

Pine Grove Meeting Time

Today Kerry, a local woman who is very interested in wildlife and who we met on our Forest Fridays last year volunteered to talk to the children with her collection of dead animals she had frozen. She had a Pygmy Shrew, a bat, a red poll and a skull of a heron.

The children made crowns by sticking pine needles and leaves on to contact paper while   on their mats as they waited for Kerry to come to show them her box of creatures.

Journey up to the Base Camp.

Stopping on the way and observing new things every week.

Todays tree –  Elder

Poem/Story – Elder tree story$file/fcms128.pdf

ONCE, LONG AGO, on a windy and wild afternoon just as the sun was about to set, three brothers and their hunting dogs went out to catch a rabbit for their Mother’s pot for her supper.

She called to them, “Now don’t be going on this night near the Wild Woods my boys, and beware of the Elder Witch for it doesn’t take much to anger her if you don’t give her due respect!”
Now just as they came to the edge of that dark wood, a rabbit ran across their path and the dogs made chase — straight into the woods! Without thinking the boys followed the dogs’ tracks, whistling and calling, “Bran! Coll! Meg!” But the dogs, noses down and ears alert, were at the scent and weren’t for calling back. The boys just had to follow. Step by step took them deeper and deeper into the heart of the dark woods and no sight nor sound of the dogs.

“Our Mother’s not going to be pleased with us – losing the dogs – and no rabbit to show for it! What shall we do?” said one of the brothers. “We need a whistle to call them.” said another, and without a thought he snapped off a branch from an Elder Tree and began to hollow it to make a whistle just as his Father had shown him. But he hadn’t thought to ask the Elder Mother’s permission, and now he was regretting it for there she stood larger than life, green skinned and ancient as the hills on which she stood. By her side she held the boys’ three hounds. “Ah you should have thought to ask before you took one of my boughs. If you bring me three gifts: a magical whistle from the Golden Elder Tree;

The Heart of a Boar; and finally a Prince who knows how to make me young again, then maybe I will think of giving your hounds back! And where you will find these gifts? Ha! That’s for me to know and you to find out. Now you have till the sun rises to complete this quest.” And the Old Cailleach disappeared into the trunk of the Elder Tree and was gone from sight. The boys walked until the dark veil of night was wrapped about them, and in that darkness they heard the most beautiful music, like the birds of the air were singing all together. And so the boys walked towards the sound and
saw in front of them a Golden Elder Tree. And in its boughs a red Squirrel played a golden whistle. “We seek the golden whistle for the Elder Witch.” they said.
“Well, if you can solve this riddle you may have it! Riddle me ree, riddle me rye, what am I? I am always restless and always free, I bang on doors and sway trees?”
“The Wind!” shouted the boys and the whistle was theirs for the taking. On they journeyed until they came to a cave. Thinking that they might sleep safely in here for a spell in they went, deeper and deeper down a long tunnel. And when they reached the end of the tunnel they found a beautiful carved wooden box, and in that box was the  heart of the Great Boar of Celyddon. But a great dark spider held it in her web. Knowing they had found their second prize, they blew the golden whistle and the spiderwas lulled by its sweet music. The boys snatched the box from her grasp and ran as swift as the North wind away from the cave. And on they tramped, their feet sore and their hearts weary, until they came to a deep chasm. Across its waters they spied a great castle. There a Prince was held captive by a Giant and it was that Prince they were searching for and
must take back to the old Elder Witch! They blew the golden whistle and the Giant was lulled to sleep and the Prince ran from his prison, crossing the river by a bridge of a single hair!

The Prince was so thankful to the boys that he came along with them as they retraced their tracks to the place where the Elder Tree stood. And one of the brothers blew the golden whistle  and the old Cailleach appeared. The Prince bowed, then putting his hand

in his pocket drew out a cluster of fragrant white flowers; elder blossoms, and offered them to the Elder Mother. And in the twinkling of an eye she became young and bonnie with white Blossoms adorning her dress and crowning her head.
“You have done well boys. You are free to take your dogs in exchange for these three gifts. But always remember November
the Elder Tree Mother, for our flowers, berries and bark can cure many human illnesses, and misuse can bring bad luck!”
The boys promised to always remember the Elder Mother’s generosity and off they and their hounds went, for they still had to catch a rabbit for their Mother’s pot for her supper! And finally they arrived
home, and what a tale they had to share that night!
Focus on Ogham Writing and the wood of the Oak and Birch and Elder.


Tree Medallions Necklaces

We explored Elderflower wood. We looked at the centre of the wood and how it has a soft pith. We hollowed it out with a stick.e3

Using a secateurs we made beads with the green wood.

Second class used used palm drills to make holes in their wooden disks of oak and birch.

Using markers the children made ogham marks on one side of medallion (linked with tree wood came from) some drew leaves of the tree on the other side or a tree and patterns.  Others wrote their initials in ogham.

Using string they put it all together to make a necklace or even an anklet.




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Dalkey School Project/ Forest Friday

Session 6

Senior Infants

Pine Grove Gathering

This week each group had a triangular area marked out with string. In the area they were encouraged to draw with their feet and sticks into the bark and pine needles. Some just ran up and down in the area making up new games.

Our plant today – Ribwort Plantain – slánlus (healing herb)

Flower – It has a little tiny brown-green head with large pale-yellow stamens which stand out clear of this little spike on top of a furrowed stalk.

Leaves – The long, lanceolate leaves have three to five very distinctive ribs (this is where it gets its name) and spread from the base of the plant in a rosette.

This is a flower that children play ‘soldiers with. You pick a plantain head and stem and try to strike your friends plantain head off with yours. If you fail your friend has a turn with yours.

We took a long route up to our camp to find Plantain.


At the top of the hill where there is lots of light and rocks we found plantain growing. The children played soldiers.

The children continue to find new and interesting things each week.

Todays Story – Airmid & the healing herbs – each plant has a use and we don’t always know what it is.

Airmid and the healing herbs

Airmid is the Celtic Goddess of the Healing Arts. She was also a member of the Tuatha De Danaan, the most ancient race of deities in Ireland and just as they did, she had great magical powers. Airmid was the daughter of Dian Cecht, the god of Medicine, and the Chief Physician and Magician of the Tuatha De Danaan. According to legend, there was once a great and noble god Nuada who ruled the Tuatha De Danann (ancient fairy folk). During a fateful battle, King Nuada lost his arm and was forced to relinquish the throne as a result of the deformity. Airmid’s father and master physician, Dian Cecht, fashioned the fallen king a silver prosthetic arm.

Now, Dian Cecht’s son Miach believed that with his own skill as a surgeon and his sister Airmid’s aptitude for regeneration, an even better solution was possible. Together, sister and brother perfectly rebuilt Nuada’s flesh arm in “thrice three days and nights.” These actions were extremely important to the Tuatha De Danaan and especially to Nauda, because according to its laws, no one could ever be its king, whose body was not completely whole. If Nuada’s arm had not been re-attached to his body, through Airmid and Miach’s amazing skills, then his reign as King would have ended.When Dian Cecht found out that he had been bested by his own son, he flew into a jealous rage, killing Miach with a fatal blow to the head.  Airmid also had great magical powers and herb craft was her specialty. Miach had taught her well, and she knew the different uses of each and every plant. When Airmid buried her brother it was with great sorrow. She missed him dearly, since they had always been so very close, and she frequently would go to visit his grave. One day, when she arrived at Miach’s grave, she was amazed to find 365 healing herbs growing on and around his grave, with one herb for every joint and organ of his body. Methodically, Airmid began to gather up the herbs. Then, quite amazingly, the herbs began to speak to her, telling her of the full range of their healing powers.She then took the herbs and separated each from the other. Then she arranged them systematically upon her cloak, each according to its own particular use or special properties. With the knowledge she had gained from the herbs, she then proceeded to use it to heal people who needed medical attention.Amazingly, Dian Cecht’s obsessive hatred for his son did not end with Miach’s death. Still consumed by his enormous rage, Dian Cecht went over to Airmid’s cloak and overturned it, scattering all the herbs into the wind; thereby making certain that no one except Airmid would ever know the use of the herbs’ healing properties.

And that is why no one now knows the healing properties of all the herbs.

Group Ink Drawings

Making channels like veins.

Explore- Trees

How do they collect water.

Look at the trunk of the tree. Look at the roots coming up from the earth. Look at the branches. Which ones are thickest?

What is the function of branches on a tree?

Through a process called photosynthesis, leaves use the sun’s energy to convert carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and water from the soil into sugar and oxygen. The sugar, which is the tree’s food, is either used or stored in the branches, trunk and roots. The oxygen is released into the atmosphere.

Explore – Leaves

Look closely at different leaves. Look at the veins. Which ones are the thickest? Which ones are the thinnest? How do they connect?

We also looked at the veins in our arms and hands.

Why do plants have veins?

The larger veins’ main purpose is to carry water from the stem into the leaf, while the smaller veins spread it throughout every part of the leaf. The smaller network of veins also collects chlorophyll created in the leaf, which the larger veins then transport back to the main part of the plant, branches and trunk.

The children worked in pairs to create their own veins of ink.

They put some ink on to the paper using different sizes of sticks or different ends of the ribwort plantain. Lifting the edges of the paper the ink made its own channels and connected up each child’s marks. The really enjoyed watching what happened and adding more ink.

Second Class

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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. copy

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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