Author Archives: Liz Mc Mahon

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.

 

Orientation

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

Maps

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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.

Mobiles

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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Picnic

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.

Blossom

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.

Pollination

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.

Story.

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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Dalkey School Project/Forest Friday

Session 2

Gathering Together Time at the Pine Grove.

The children learnt two more knots. They now have a record chart of  knots. They are really interested in learning these skills.

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On the way up to base camp the children created a mental map of the trees we pass. Using a leaf identification chart they matched up leaves to find out what kind of tree we passed. Some children like to choose the hardest route up.

This Weeks Focus plant Elderberries

We looked at the leaves, and the berries. Why does it produce berries? We crushed them and found seeds. Why are there seeds inside? What does it smell of? There were lots of ideas and discussion about this tree. All the children knew about elderflowers because they love the cordial. They were delighted to hear that they could make tea out of the berries.

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 After free play, break and elderberry tea we had story.

The Bundle of Sticks – an Aesop’s Fable adapted by Elisa Pearmain

Once upon a time, an old woman lived on a beautiful farm in the country. From her window, she could see pasture land, fields of grain, barns filled with animals, orchards and forests beyond. The farm was special to the old woman because it had been in her family for many generations. She had raised her family of ____ (count the number of children in your class) there. Now her husband was dead, and she too was in the last days of her life.

The old woman should have been content after such a fortunate life, but she was not. She lay on her bed worrying about her grown children. They could not seem to get along. She heard them quarreling day and night. Even though some of them were good at farming, and some at working with the animals, some at carpentry, and others at cooking or preserving the food they grew.  They each thought that their job was more important and that the others didn’t work hard enough. They held grudges against each other from things in the past, and they were jealous of each other’s good fortune. Though the old woman tried talking to her children about living in peace, they seemed to grow increasingly bitter by the day. She felt sure that they would not be able to keep the family farm after she had died, because they could not seem to work together or appreciate each other’s gifts.

Then one day as her strength waned, she had an idea. She called her children to her bedside. “I have one last favor to ask of you,” she said. “I would like each one of you to go to the forest and find two sticks. Bring them here tomorrow and I will explain.”

The children did as she asked and came to her room the next day with two sticks each. (At this point you will hand the children each two craft sticks.)

“Thank you children,” the old woman said. “Please put one of your sticks down, and see if you can break the other one in half.” The children easily broke their sticks in half. (Tell the children that they can try to break one stick in half with their hands.)

Then the old woman asked the children to pass her the remaining whole sticks. “Let us gather the remaining sticks into a bundle.” She said. (Here the teacher will gather the remaining sticks and wrap the rubber band around them. Make sure there are at least 7 sticks in the bundle and if not add more for missing children, teachers etc.)

Then she passed the bundle back to her children and said, “Please pass this bundle of sticks amongst you and tell me – is it as easy to break the bundle as it was the single stick?” (Pass the bundle to the child nearest you and allow them to try to break it. Tell them to only use their hands.  Some children will try to use feet or even to take the bundle apart.)

(Wait until all of the children have had a turn trying to break the bundle).

The children passed the bundle between them but (just like you) not one of them could break the bundle of sticks.

“You my children, are like these sticks,” the old woman said. “If you go your separate ways, quarreling, and holding resentments toward one another, you will be alone like the individual sticks and the difficulties of life will easily hurt you. But if you work together, appreciate each other’s strengths, cherish what you share in common, and care for each other, you will be like the bundle of sticks, and nothing in life can break you. Find strength and joy in one another’s company, and you will live well and accomplish much.”

The children took their mother’s lesson to heart, letting go of past grudges and focusing on what they shared in common, appreciating each other’s strengths, and working together. The old woman died peacefully, and the farm remained in the family for many generations.

 

Group Shelter Building        

The children worked together to create a den. Sixth class decided to create different rooms in their den as they had different ideas. This worked well.

Halfway through fourth class stopped to make drawings on their ideas and to share what else should be done. This worked well. It gave time to reflect and share ideas.

Sixth class

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The cooker.

Reflections

Fourth Class.

I noticed that some trees were creaking

I noticed that there were a lot of logs. This helped build our den.

The wind goes against the trees and makes nice sounds.

I heard dogs barking.

I noticed that you don’t have to build houses in nature sometimes it builds them for you.

It is like the tree is talking to us.

I’m grateful that nature is here for us.

I’m grateful that we can make tea.

If you had no house you could make your own tea, make a house, and go to the salon and get a blackberry face mask.

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Blackberry face mask from the salon.

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Dalkey School Project N.S./ Forest Friday.

Session 1

Fourth Class  8.30 – 11.00am

Sixth Class 11.30 – 2.00pm

Another year begins of Forest Fridays for Dalkey School Project N.S. This year all the classes except Senior Infants will have been part of this programme two years ago.

Gathering Place at Pine Grove for Fourth Class.

The children arrive from 8.25am to 8.35am. The children have a picnic rugs with an activity arranged for them as they arrive. There are 5 rugs and the children know which one they go to. Each week we will have a short activity for the children as we wait for the whole class to gather.

Activity

 

Each group was given a diagram of two knots to learn. The aim is for the children to have a good knowledge of knots in the next few weeks to enable them to make a hammock.

When all the children arrived they went to their three groups for Forest  Friday. Today there was a lot of recapping and collecting memories from two years ago. Us leaders observed how observant they are in the forest. As we walked up to our camp children stopped and noticed things along the way.

Children stopped and discussed the stages of blackberries before they ripen. We collected some to make blackberry tea.

Our story this week was about colour.

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.

Forty Shades of Green

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The children worked in pairs to collect 40 shades of Green.

 

 

The collected way more than 40 shades of green.

 

We looked at the details. In some of the leaves we noticed that there were many greens blending into each other and that there were patterns through the leaves and on the edge. The children collected more leaves to examine patterns.

I gave the children white candles to draw invisable patterns from their observations.

Using watercolours they mixed many greens. Working over the wax patterns their drawings were visable.

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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?

Tea

We collected hawthorn leaves and made tea.

 Story

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.

Reflect

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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