Category Archives: Dalkey School Project

Dalkey School Project/Forest Friday

Session 6

Last night storm Callum hit Ireland. There were still gale force winds this morning and the Dun Laoghaire parks were closed for the day. We continued working in our 3 Forest School groups developing ideas for base camps back at the school.

Fourth Class

God’s Eye (in Spanish, Ojo de Dios) weavings.

Ojo de Dios is a spiritual object made by weaving a design out of yarn on a wooden cross. They are commonly found in Mexico. The spiritual eye of the Ojos de Dios is thought by some believers to have the power to see and understand things unknown to the physical eye.

In Mexico they are placed along tracks to keep people safe. Fourth class will place theirs along the obstacle courses that they are building in their base camps to keep people safe.

Place Names

Each group worked on a name for their base camp. We looked at examples of places around us-

Killiney Cill Iníon Léinín, meaning “Church of the Daughters of Léinín”

Dalkey IslandDelg-inis, meaning Thorn Island

GlenagearyGleann na gCaorach, meaning Glen of the Sheep.

They were given a list  selected from

Irish Place Names by P.W. Joyce.

Useful word to know –

Ait- a place, a site

Ard – a height

Bán- white or fair coloured

Barr – the top

Beag – little

Bearna – a gap

Béal – a mouth

Boireann – a rocky place

Bóthar – a road

Broc – a badger

Bun – the end or bottom of anything

Carraig – a rock

Clann – a tribe

Cloch – a stone

Cnoc – a hill

Coill – a wood

Coínín – a rabbit

Coll – hazel

Craobh – a branch

Crann – a tree

Cu – a hound

Cuillionn – holly

Dair – an oak

Draeighean – blackthorn

Druim – a back, a hill

Fada – long

Fásach – a wilderness

Garbh – rough, rugged

Glas – green

inish – an island

Leaba – a bed

Lon – a blackbird

Moin – a bog

Mór – large

Nead – a nest

Óg – young

Oileán – an island

Poll – a hole

Preachán – a crow

Puca – a ghost

Rath – a circular fort

Sceilig – a rock

Sean – old

Sidheán – a fairy hill

Siol – a seed

Sionnach – a fox

Slighe – a track

Teamhair – an elevated stop with a view. (Tara)

Tobar – a well

Tromm- the elder

Uisce – water.

Working from our Irish Place Names sheet they came up with lots of lovely names for their base camps- Béal na coille, Draighean Druim, Fásach Glas, Knocktara, Clann Puca, Puca Cu, Clann Cuillionn.IMG_4049 copy

We looked at the wood we had collected. The children were asked to think about the wood we have; what wood is hollow, what wood is soft in the middle, what wood is strongest, what wood can be bent? It is amazing what we all now know, including me, about different woods. Their answers were; bamboo, elder, ash, willow and ivy.

They were shown how using natural materials, string and wire they could make letters   and put them together to form a word. They collected natural materials from the school garden to add to the boxes of materials I had brought in.

Sixth Class

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This can be brought to the base camp on the parents session.

Sixth Class

The wind had abated and there was rain and puddles to enjoy outdoors.

We went to the park beside the school to develop our arrows and have an inter group arrow throwing competition. The groups spent time evaluating and improving their arrows by adding weights and sharpening.

Each group had a semi-final competition in arrow throwing and from that put forward two contestants for the final.

And the winner is Benan!


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Dalkey School Project/ Forest Friday

Session 5

Nature detective work on the way up to our base  for our notebook –

Beech Tree

The trunk goes straight up and the branches go straight out and then down. These are beech leaves I found them on the ground. The leaves are shaded a lot. There is a line in the middle and then lines going upwards. This is brown and the other one is green. The bark is not like a normal tree, the bark on a normal tree is kind of wrinkly and this one is very smooth, but then there are little bumps on it. There are textured lines going across. They kind of stand out a bit. Could you make beech nut tea?

Sweet Chestnut

This is what I found a few weeks ago and I didn’t know what it was from. It’s from that tree. The bark is very bumpy and wrinkly – it’s more rough than the beech bark. The leaves are longer than the beech and have kind of spikes on the sides. There are seeds with white at the bottom and then brown. The outside is very spiky and it really hurts.


IMG_3697 copyLook at the spider, look at the size of his legs. He has a very small body and very long legs. He moved very fast when I blew gently on him.

At this stage our sessions are being led by the children. They decided on fusion tea of nettle pine needle and blackberry. This was their observation when collecting nettles –

” Nettles can’t grow without lots of light. We had to go out to the sunlight to find them, there were none under the trees.”IMG_3706 copy

A structure of sticks. leaves and pine needles was built up around the tea container to insulate it while the tea was brewing. Today’s tea was a fusion of nettle, pine needle and 3 blackberries. The verdict was that the pine needle flavour was dominate.

The fourth class requested to make dens. They divided into two groups. Both areas had already a natural structure to be added to. They brought me on a tour. Their sharing with each other of imagination and creativity  is amazing to experience.

“We have a shower,when you stand under it and shake the branch the water falls on you.”

“Here is the play room with a branch to swing on and another to balance on.”

“We have a wash basin.”

Every week children share what they notice- ” I was climbing in circles around the tree with the pool and I noticed the different reflections as I moved around.”

Sixth class continued with their arrows. They tested the quality of each arrow and adapted them to make them better.

“I started with a bigger shaft but I changed because it was too difficult to sharpen.”

“My arrow flew wonky and I put a conker on it and it flew straight. When it flew wonky it looked liked it was dancing then I thought it might be a bet sad when it didn’t dance anymore with the conker, but you can just take the conker off and it will dance again.”

“Mine didn’t fly very good but we made a course – you had to try and get it through the hoop. Then I realised mine wasn’t sharp enough and then I sharpened it. It didn’t make a difference. I think I need a thicker stick.”

“I sharpened mine and then threw it and it started to go straighter.”

“We put our arrows in a potion – it gave them a ‘harming’, so that they would kill everybody. It was a poison potion. You have to dip the arrow in the potion for a few minutes.”

‘I added a pine cone to the tip. It flew straighter and longer.”

“I started one today and tested it, it doesn’t go very far but that could be because I’m throwing it very high.I think it might be too light. It needs more weight.”

“Mine’s good, flies far.”

Reuben’s flew the farthest. It was the magic potion.”







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Dalkey School Project/ Forest Friday

Session 4

Fourth Class

Before going to our base camp I let the group know of a plan to make arrows to develop our target practice skills. I suggested that we collected feathers as they would be useful for our arrows. There weren’t that many but I had collected some extra ones during the week.

Wild Tea

Choose a wild tea for the week.


Blackberry leaf?


Pine needle?

They decided on pine needle so to decorate around the tea container they used pine branches and cone fallen from the gale last week and the willow circles that they made last week.They continued developing the tea ceremony with a new tea master and assistant.

This was our discussion on creating a tea ceremony

Aim is to create a feeling of calm with each other and harmony with the natural world.

Elements you might want to consider:

–       What are host’s responsibilities and tasks?

–       What are the participants’ responsibilities and tasks?

–       How is the space prepared in advance – perhaps a central nature    mandala?

–       Who and how are people welcomed?

–       How is gratitude shown?

–       Is there a particular way of pouring?

–       How does it end?



Continuing developing target practice and games, pine cones and willow circles and this week we made arrows.

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Binding feathers to secure to the bamboo.







Using coloured wool to design an identifying marker for each arrow.

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It took the whole session to get out arrows made and try out quick flights. One flew so far we never found it again. Next week we will have time to try our flying skills and create a rules for a game.

Sixth Class

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As they missed their session in the forest last week they worked hard and made both willow circles and arrows. Next week they will have time to develop their target skills and arrow throwing skills.

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Leon noticed that he could create different shadows with his body. He made himself into a wild animal.



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Dalkey School Project/Forest Friday

Session 3

Today was a very blustery day. Because of the storm on Wednesday there were trees down and lots of branches,and leaves on the ground. We did a safety check on the area we meet at, to be sure that there were no loose branches stuck up in the trees. The children felt cold as they learnt new knots while waiting for the rest of the class to gather, so we played some fast moving games before we set off. We played ‘Beetle’ and ‘Tá tú sábháilte má…….’

Ms Daily said- ‘Tá tú sáibháilte má chuir do lámh ar rud éigin bog.” Well I only heard bog and there was I looking for a bug to put my hand on! Then Lola found rotting soft wood with a bug in it. A bug in rud éigin bog!We all had a good look at her bug.

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This got us going with our Nature Detective eyes on our way up to base camp.


“These are nettles. They hurt when you touch them- they sting.” “There’s always a whole pack of them.” “When you see nettles it’s a sign of good earth.” “You can touch the sides but you can’t touch the top or it will sting you.” “If you grab it really hard it won’t allow the needles to go into your hand which is poison which is the sting.” “At the back of the leaf you can see the veins and the tiny little spikes.”

“We are going to make nettle tea. We will put hot water on the nettles and then drink it.” “What do you do if you get a nettle sting? Do you use a dock leaf or something.”


“Why are there lily leaves scattered around in the nettles?” “i think I know, lillies want protection so they are between the nettles.” “I think they are bindweed – it craws up to the sun. It’s in my garden and it clings to plants. It has a flower – look over there.”


“When you open it up it is so satisfying, there is all this white stuff in it. When you step on it, it makes this crunching noise. The inside is kind of wet nut it’s not wet. The outside is green- it has spikes but they don’t hurt you.” “There are 3 small ones inside this one.” “They came from this horse chestnut tree.” 

Tea Ceremony

The tea tin was surrounded with conkers. The hot water was poured on the nettle leaves and a towel wrapped around  the tin to keep it warn while it was left to stew. The group gathered around the tin.

The Tea Master arrived down the hill twirling a stick as the group wait in a circle around the tea. The assistant served the Tea Master with the basket of cups. The Tea Master served the tea with help from an assistant to strain it. Finally the tea leaves were poured in to the centre circle of the tea leaves.

Story – Tests of the Fianna

Fionn Mac Cumhaill’s father was the leader of the Fianna.  Fionn also became the leader on the Fianna when he became an adult. They were the bravest and the strongest warriors in Ireland and also the most clever. To be one of them, a young person had to take on many challenges. He needed to be able to run under a stick placed at the height of his knees. Armed with only a stick and a shield, he had to stand against nine men while they let fly their spears. He must not allow a weapon to get by him or to hurt him. Then he had to run silently through the woods. Not a twig can snap or a leaf rustle.  Nor can his long hair get caught in a branch or bramble. And he has to be able to jump over obstacles at chest height without slowing down, while staying ahead of the hunters who give him only a small start. And if he got a thorn in his foot, he must be able to pick it out without changing his speed.  He also had to know the twelve books of Bardic poetry, be a poet in his own right and be wise in his opinions.

This weeks Focus-

Create an obstacle course

Start to create an obstacle course.  Include test worthy of the fianna inside our base camp.  Practise them.  Include some of the target practice ideas from last week.  Decide and agree on safety rules together.

Here is what they came up with-

    1. We attached the circle to a stick with string. We threw the stick over the high branch. Then we made a second. This circle is smaller. We can bring the circles up and down by pulling the string. You have to throw pine cones through the hoops. One circle is low and larger and you get 5 points if you get your pine cone through the smaller and higher is worth 10 points.
    2. You start on the see-saw and then run underneath the string. You go around the tree and under the string 5 times and then you jump over the pole.
    3. There is a pitch with circles on it. At the end of the pitch there is a hoop attached to a stick stuck into the ground.You have to hop into each circle carrying 2 pine cones and when you get to the line of sticks you throw your pine cones through the hoop. You are not allowed on the pitch or behind the hoop because you might get hit.

Sixth Class

By 11.00am the winds were force 6 and the forecast was for force 7 by 12.00 so we had to cancel sixth class. This is the first time in 4 years we have had to cancel. I went down to the school and Ms. O’Connell and the children were out collecting blackberries for tea so the children weren’t disappointed.

We decided to learn some skills that will be useful for Forest Friday. We made God’s Eye (in Spanish, Ojo de Dios)weavings. This involves making knots to start and finish. Ojo de Dios is a spiritual object made by weaving a design out of yarn on a wooden cross. They are commonly found in Mexican and Mexican American communities. The spiritual eye of the Ojos de Dios is thought by some believers to have the power to see and understand things unknown to the physical eye.

Leon used all white cotton string for his weaving and then made paint with the blackberries to decorate it.

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Forest Friday/ Dalkey School Project N.S.

Session 2

Fourth Class


The children, using diagrams, are teaching themselves and each other 2 more knots.

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Each group have a Nature Detective notebook.

On the way up to our base camp we added things we noticed for our notebook.

“I found a mushroom. It doesn’t look like a toadstool because it’s very small. They’re so pretty. Underneath it looks like it has petals.It’s brown underneath but on top it’s white. The stalk is yellow at the bottom then white.”

“It’s not quite white it’s like a cream. I know it’s ivy because of the shape of the leaf and it is growing with the ivy. It is the only whitish leaf. I think it might be dead.”

“ It’s growing beside the Ivy. I don’t know anything about it. It’s kind of pink. It’s rooted in the rock. The flower has purple and yellow inside and the leaves are different sizes.”

“I think it might be fox poo because there is quite a lot of fox poo around my house. Over time the poo goes white”

Every Friday the leaders meet up after our sessions with the children to share observations. From this we put together a plan for the following week. This keeps our Forest Fridays child – led. Each leader and group use the weekly plans in a unique way and respond to the children. This week  our plans were to develop our tea making, target practice and hut building. My group of 4th class developed the tea making area into a wonderful space and then created a lovely ceremony.  I expected this to take a short time but got got really involved for most of the session.

We just had time to begin to make willow circles for target practice.

Story  –

The tea master

Several centuries ago in Japan, there was a tea master. No one else performed the way of the tea to such perfection. The timing and the grace of his every move; from the unfurling of the mat, to the setting out of the cups, and the sifting of the green leaves, was beauty itself.

Once while in Tokyo, the tea master accidentally slighted a soldier. He quickly apologised but the rather impetuous soldier demanded that the matter be settled in a sword duel.

The tea master, who had no experience with swords, asked the advice of a sword master. The master of swords was a wise man, and he had a great respect for the master of the tea ceremony, so he said, “I will teach you all you require, but first, I ask that you perform the way of the Tea for me one last time.”

The tea master could not refuse this request. As he performed the ceremony, all trace of fear seemed to leave his face. He was serenely concentrated on the simple but beautiful cups and pots, and the delicate aroma of the leaves. There was no room in his mind for anxiety. His thoughts were focused on the ritual.

When the ceremony was complete, the sword master exclaimed with pleasure:

“There you have it. Your state of mind when you perform the tea ceremony is all that is required. When you see your challenger tomorrow, imagine that you are about to serve tea for him. Salute him courteously, express regret that you could not meet him sooner, take of your coat and fold it as you did just now. Wrap your head in a silken scarf and do it with the same serenity as you dress for the tea ritual. Draw your sword, and hold it high above your head. Then close your eyes and ready yourself for combat.”

That is exactly what the tea master did when, the following morning, at the crack of dawn he met his opponent. The soldier had been expecting a quivering wreck and he was amazed by the tea master’s presence of mind as he prepared himself for combat. The soldier’s eyes were opened and he saw a different man altogether. The warrior bowed, asked to be excused for his rude behaviour, and left the place of combat with as much speed and dignity as he could muster.


Discussion on creating a tea ceremony special to your group of 10 and your base camp.

Aim is to create a feeling of calm with each other and harmony with the natural world.

Elements you might want to consider:

–       What are host’s responsibilities and tasks?

–       What are the participants’ responsibilities and tasks?

–       How is the space prepared in advance – perhaps a central nature mandala?

–       Who and how are people welcomed?

–       How is gratitude shown?

–       Is there a particular way of pouring?

–       How does it end?

The children decided to make blackberry tea. The created a mandala around the tea tin and then the tea was left to soak while they had their snack. They decided to protect it with their bags.

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After their snack they spent a lot of time working together first to add to the mandala and then to create a circular to sit on. They carried heavy logs up the hill for seating.

They decided on a tea master.

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Target practice – children make a few willow circles of different sizes. They use string to hang them from various heights on branches.
Everyone collects as many cones as they can carry. Decide on safety rules before throwing.

They started on this idea making their willow circles and some began to hang them from branches. They worked our how to reach over a high branch by tying the string to a heavy wooden block and throwing it over. Another child tied theirs to a stick and poked it upright in the ground. They began to work out a scoring system, higher points will be given if you get a pine cone through a small circle. They likened it to Quidditch. There were lots of ideas and excitement. This idea will be built on in the next session.

We have a small bag of materials for children to use. These children are wrapping sticks in coloured wool to make talking sticks for our circle time.

Sixth Class

Den Building

The children used this guide to build dens. They chose to work in 3 groups.

Group 1

With other children trying out the space.

Group 2

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Group 3

With other children trying out the space.


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Forest Friday/Dalkey School Project N.S.

Here we are back to another school year. This term fourth class and sixth class from Dalkey School Project National School will spend 2 1/2 hour in Killiney Hill park.

Classes participate in Forest Friday every second year of their primary school years – senior infants, second class, fourth class and sixth class.

Session 1

The beginning

When Fourth Class arrived they learnt knots while waiting for the rest of the class to gather.

We spent this session getting used to our new groups and new base camps with a lot of free play time. Free play time give the leader time to observe the children. These observations help us plan the following sessions. The class is divided into three groups of 10 children and each will have the same leader and base camp for the 9 sessions.

As sixth class now are on their second, and fourth class are on their third block of FF sessions it is child- led from the first session.

Nature Detectives

On the way up to our camp we stopped regularly to find things to explore. We are going to make a nature detective book with our findings- we photographed, and I recorded what everyone had to say –

Photos and Transcription

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  1. This is a fern. It’s a special type of fern called a Jurassic fern. It’s been around since dinosaurs, which is why it’s called Jurassic. If you look underneath you see the seeds – little bumps and circles. These drop off.
  2. This is ivy. The leaves look like love hearts. The leaves get lighter towards the end of the stems. There are tiny sticky bits that hook into the tree that it’s growing on. It covers up the branches of the tree it’s growing on and left over stumps. It grows up towards the sun.
  3. What is it? Look, it looks like a smiley face or a moustache! It’s hard to take it apart. It is so soft then you try to yank it apart and you can’t. It leaves dust on your fingers. It’s a kid of branch I think. What tree did it come from? Well the one above it a beech but it doesn’t look like it comes from it. It’s on this tree – but it doesn’t belong to it- it’s just hanging from it. Maybe it just fell on to it from one of the trees above?
  4. I think it looks like hog weed. It has a white pattern on the leaf. Maybe there is something eating away at it? I think it might be a caterpillar that’s gone into the leaf to get the sugary thing before it becomes a cocoon.IMG_2963 copy
  5. I think these are chestnuts. When you walk on them you get a satisfying noise!IMG_2964 copy
  6. It’s very unordinary because bird poo is usually white and this is black. Maybe it’s a different kind of bird? Maybe they have eaten blackberries. It’s all in one patch on the ground because a few birds flew over together, or maybe because there is a hole up there (tree canopy). No, it’s not under the hole – it’s under those branches. Look that’s a good branch where they might have been. It’s strong enough to hold their weight. I think there were 6 or 5 birds up there.
  7. The tree is decayed in the centre. The cut the tree down because it is old and might collapse. Look at the fungus in the hollow. I see a fungus on the outside too.IMG_2972 copy
  8. It’s shamrock. It tastes bitter at first and then sweet. It’s kind of citric.
  9. I found it under a tree. It’s kind of circular and there is a little root in the middle of it and it kind of dips down a bit. It looks a bit like a lily pad.IMG_2977 copyLater on – “Look it’s a whole family of Piran’s leaf.”

The Language of Birds

Our story this week –

 The Boy Who Spoke to the Birds

A long time ago, there lived a father and mother. Their only son was a kind hearted boy called Ivan. This boy loved to listen to the song of a bird which the family kept as a pet, or some might say as a prisoner, inside a gilded cage.

“What is the meaning of her song?” he often wondered, “It is so lovely, yet so sad.”

Not long after this, he was out for a walk in the woods, when the weather became bitter. In the midst of this downpour, his keen ears caught a flustered sound up in the branches above his head. Little voices were crying out “tweet tweet tweet!” quite pitifully. He looked up and saw a nest where the heads of baby birds were bobbing up and down and crying in the cold rain. Ivan felt most sorry for the tiny creatures. Instead of hurrying home, he climbed up the tree and spread his coat out above the birds and waited until the mother bird returned. When she saw that the kind boy had saved her young ones from catching chills, she was filled with thanks.

“Young man,” she said, “Say what you want, and it shall be yours.”

The boy replied, “Gracious bird, as it happens, there is one skill that I would dearly love to possess. Could you please teach me the language of the birds?”

“Most certainly,” replied the mother bird, and they arranged that he should visit her every day for a month and learn the words, the grammar, and the tunes of the birds. Fortunately, the boy had a good ear for music, for birds communicate in song. He learned his lessons well, did his homework, and by the end of a month could understand everything that the birds told one another.

Soon after this, Ivan sat listening to the nightingale in his gilded cage. Now he understood the meaning of the beautiful bird’s song, and felt overwhelming sad. His parents could not fail to notice his unhappy face, and his mother asked, “why are fat tears rolling down your cheeks?

“I have learned the language of birds, and now I understand the meaning of our pet nightingale’s song, and that is why I am so sad.”

His father was intrigued by this and said: “Well, Ivan, tell us the meaning of our beloved bird’s song.”

“He sings, dear father,” said Ivan simply, naively, and foolishly, “that one day Ivan shall be a prince and his father shall be his servant.”

Ivan’s parents had not been expecting such an insolent speech. They wondered greatly about what had become of their polite young son. Perhaps listening to the birds so much had made him quite bird-brained. Indeed, they no longer trusted him. Not long after that, the boy’s mother made up some warm milk for Ivan, and mixed it with a strong sleeping potion that would be sure to put him under for a sound night’s sleep. When he was completely out, and snoring loudly, his parents carried him down to the shore, and by the light of the moon, they put him into a little boat and pushed him out to sea. They thought that he would drown and nobody would be the wiser.

But it was not Ivan’s fate to drown at sea. The currents brought the sleeping boy in his tiny boat alongside a ship. It was a starry night, and the watchman saw Ivan lying in his fragile craft, at the mercy of the next big wave that would surely tip him into the water. By the kindness of the ship’s crew, Ivan’s life was saved.

The next morning, Ivan sat up on the deck wrapped in a warm blanket. A flock of cranes flew overhead, and he tilted his head to catch what they were saying. “Quick, quick, fly as fast as you can. Head for the shore. A terrible storm is on its way!”

The boy tried to warn the sailors of what the birds had said, and urged them to head for the port before the storm ripped the ship to pieces. But the sailors laughed, thinking that the poor lad must have caught too much sun while he was adrift at sea. But the storm did come, and it was every bit as fierce as Ivan had warned, and the ship took a mighty battering from the wind and the waves that did it much damage.

A few days after the storm had passed, a flock of swans flew over the ship. Ivan heard what they were saying: “Over there is a ship full of pirates who plan to do much mischief.”

Ivan reported what he had heard to the captain, who this time took him seriously. He ordered the crew to turn and head for a safe harbour. The swift pirate ship began to chase them. They raced towards the port, and the boat carrying Ivan and the good sailors reached safety just in time.

Now it so happened, they had arrived at a town ruled over by a king, who was extremely troubled by four crows. These noisy birds sat on the window sill of the king’s bedroom and cawed day and night. Servants had tried to shoo them away with brooms, and soldiers had tried to shoot them down with arrows, but all to no avail. Now the king offered a reward – his daughter’s hand in marriage and half his kingdom to the one who could free him of this trouble. But he warned that any time-wasters risked losing their heads.

Ivan heard about this problem from a little bird, and he understood that this was a golden opportunity. He made his way to the castle and offered his service in the matter of the four crows. The king’s chamberlain showed him to the window where the birds sat and squawked. Ivan listened to what they were saying and told the chamberlain, “There are four crows, a father crow, a mother crow, and a daughter and a son crow. The mother and father are seeking a divorce. They have come here to ask the king to judge who the children should follow: the mother or the father. Until they have received judgement in this matter, they will not leave.”

As soon as the king’s decision was told to the crows, they left. The king was delighted that the crows had finally cleared off from his window sill. He gladly gave the hand in marriage of his youngest daughter to the boy who understood the secret language of birds.

As Ivan’s fortune went up, little did he know that his father’s star was falling. His wife had gone to a better world, and while he was grieving he also lost his fortune when pirates attacked a boat carrying all his merchandise. The old man became a wandering beggar, dependent on the kindness and generosity of strangers. His travels brought him to the castle where Prince Ivan was living happily with his princess. There the old man came before the young prince, and begged for alms. His sight was failing him, and he did not recognise that His Majesty was none other than his own son.

“Old man, what may I do for you?” asked Prince Ivan.

“Be so kind, as to let me stay here and work as one of your servants,” said the old man, “for once I was rich, but now I have lost everything, my dear wife, my honest son, my fortune, and finally my pride.”

“Dear father,” said Ivan, “you once doubted the song of a nightingale, but now you see that my translation was true.”

At first the old man was puzzled, and then stunned, and then frightened. He knelt before his son and begged forgiveness. But wealth and good fortune had not changed Ivan. He was the same good hearted boy that he ever was. He stepped down from his throne to embrace his father with the words, “Papa, I wish for nothing more than to love, comfort and support you in your old age.”

And Prince Ivan was true to his word.

Discussion –

The first thing a boy asked about was the princess. Was she happy with this arrangement? This opened a great discussion on gender and choice.

Then they discussed the emotions that they would feel if their parents did something like this to them.

This led to discussing stories, different times and different places and cultures in the world.

Learning the Five Voices of birds.

Focus – Bird language   

Five voices of the birds – Use your fingers to remember.

  1. Song (Thumbs up)

(baseline, calm, peaceful, territorial) Songs are often melodious or lengthy jumbles of sound.

2. Alarm (Pointer finger)

It’s often just a louder and more intense version of their companion call

3.Male-to-male aggression ( middle finger)

(still considered baseline, other birds won’t be affected)

4. Companion calling ( Ring finger)

Call and response rhythm between flocks, mates, families.

5. Juvenile begging ( Baby finger)

In springtime after the birds have made their nests and the eggs have hatched, you might hear the incessant calling of juveniles begging to be fed by their parents.

Bird Skits

The children worked in three groups. Each group acted out their bird drama and the others had to put up a finger or thumb to guess which one of the 5 voices it was. They really enjoyed this and showed a very good understand of the different voices.

Sit Spot.

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During the final circle time the children talked about how they used their new found skills of listening to birds during their sit spot time.







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Forest Friday

Session 9

Parents and Children

Senior Infants

We had a lovely final session thanks to the children who planned what they would like to do with their parents last week.

Gathering at the Pine Grove

At our gathering point it was lovely to see children show their parents the variety of materials in the baskets and teach some techniques and skill they have developed.

On our way up to the base camp they children showed their parents special landmarks. There were rocks to be climbed and tunnels to go through. Some adventurous parents climbed through the holly tunnel.

Parents got a chance to relive their childhood in a game of Eagle Eye.

Children showed parents around the camp pointing out favourite places to climb, to hide, and their sit spots. The also collected plants.

Elder as our focus tree again this week, so that the children could share their knowledge. We went out of our camp to find an Elder. The children explained to their parents that they needed to ask Mother Elder’s permission to cut her branches. They showed them the soft pith and told how you could make a wand. Some made wands on the spot.

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This was our activity-

Pendants and Elder Beads

Drilling Holes and Cutting Wood – Set out a tool area for drilling holes in the wooden discs and cutting beads with the secateurs.  Show how to use the tools. Let everyone know how many can work there at a time.

Each adult and child will get a wooden disc. Using markers or pencils write their names and decorate one side.

‘On the other draw something that you love from the forest, it might be a leaf, a bird, animal, flower or insect. You might like to add ogham writing. Have a look at the sheet about ogham writing.’

When there is space in the tool area bore a hole in the disc and cut some Elder beads.

Stringing Elder Beads Cut Elder sticks into 1 cm beads. Hollow out with pointy sticks. Use the pointy sticks to push string through.  String it all together and make a pendant.

They finished off in their favourite sit spot with their parents

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Second Class

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The Children showing parents their favourite places in the camp.

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Sharing the sit up area with a parent.

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Hiding during a game of Eagle Eye


I got such a positive response from the parents.

  • The children tell them so much about their day on a Friday.
  • The children ask them to go to Killiney Park at the weekends and they lead them to the base camp.
  • Children have become very responsive to the natural world when out with their parents
  • Children are tired but calm on Friday evenings.
  • Children know so much about plants
  • Parents have noticed how good their child’s observation skills have become.
  • “She is much better at trying new foods at home since tasting wild foods and making wild teas.”

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