Category Archives: Dalkey School Project

Forest Friday

Session 7

Celebrating Samhain in the Woods.

Everyone came dressed up for Halloween today.

Fourth Class

Making costumes from the forest.

We focused on lots of games and stories.

Circle time making a web to escape from.

On the way up to our base the children stopped at sites that looked spooky and told scary stories.

Second Class


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Forest Friday

Focus: Ink

Session 7

How are you going to use it?

I sent a powerpoint of calligraphy and drawings from the Book of Kells and other manuscripts to the classes to view and discuss during the week.

Did you know?

The Book of Kells is a masterwork of calligraphy.

Kalli- is a Greek root meaning “beautiful”, and “beautiful” in the case of calligraphy means artistic, stylized, and elegant. Calligraphy has existed in many cultures, including Indian, Persian, and Islamic cultures; Arabic puts a particularly high value on beautiful script, and in East Asia calligraphy has long been considered a major art. Calligraphers in the West use pens with wide nibs, with which they produce strokes of widely differing width within a single letter.

Letters and animals

The illustrations and ornamentation of the Book of Kells are outstanding. The decoration combines ornate swirling motifs, figures of humans, animals and mythical beasts, and Celtic knots and interlacing patterns in vibrant colours.

  • Some have already whittled pens.  Do you want to make more?
  • Collect feathers to make quills and brushes
  • Try moss, grasses and leaves 

What will you do?

  • Write
  • Draw
  • Combination of writing and drawing
  • Explore interesting marks
  • Add more colour; blackberry, rowanberry, elderberry ink
  • Try out the tools you have made and collected. How often do you have to dip it in the ink? Does the colour of the ink change as you write/draw make marks.
  • You could try turning your initials into weird birds or animals?
  • You can find patterns from nature to add to your work.

Fourth Class

Second Class

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Forest Friday

Session 5


I sent a Powerpoint and a David Attenborough film to both classes to view during the week.

Powerpoint information

Here’s an oak gall, a common growth on oak trees around the world, and a source of basic dark ink from medieval times right up to the 19th century. Many of the monks who created Ireland’s ancient manuscripts used iron gall ink.

Oak galls are formed when a gall wasp lays her eggs on the tip of an oak branch, and the tree begins to secrete a fluid that ends up enveloping the egg, and ultimately becomes a food source for the developing wasp larva.

Monks and other ink-makers would gather oak galls, and devise an ink using this ancient recipe, taken from a Booke of Secrets:

Killiney Hill

On the way to your base look out for oak trees.

Can you find any galls? Look under the tree and on the tree. Where are they on the tree? What shape are they?

Check that there is a hole in each one before you collect it. That means the wasp has flown.

How can we break the galls?

When we break the galls we need to soak them in water. Did you see any pools of rain water?

Oak gall ink takes time to soak so we will prepare ink to use next week.

Other Inks

What other inks could we make? Blackberry, elder, rowan?


What would be good to write and draw with using our inks?

Try sticks, feathers, grasses, leaves and moss.

What else can you find?

Fourth Class

Second Class

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Forest Friday

Session 4

Journey to Base

What seeds can we find on Killiney Hill? Take a long way up to your base through a variety of environments to collect seeds from plants.

Fourth Class


“Look at the light through the trees it looks like a fire.” The children go into the spot light.

Arrival at the Base

On arrival have a look at the variety. Match seeds. How many varieties have we collected? Beech, burdock, cleavers, pine cones, gorse, blackberries, conkers, dandelion, helicopters, nettle seeds, fir cones etc. Don’t worry about the names – it’s more about exploration and curiosity and asking questions. 

Story –  The Tiny Seed By Eric Carle


Seed dispersal game – seed gym

This activity looks at the varying methods of how seeds are dispersed and transported. Give each pair one of the following seed dispersal methods and ask them to practice the action described (Exploding, flying, being eaten, bouncing). Each group in turn acts out their seed dispersal method and the other groups have to guess what method they are demonstrating.


Seeds dispersed by the wind:

• Dandelions – mime blowing a dandelion

• Sycamore tree seeds spin in the wind like helicopters – spin with arms out at right angles

Bouncing: Horse chestnut tree seeds (conkers) drop, bounce and roll – mime the action

Seeds dispersed by animals:

• Squirrels collect nuts and bury them in the ground, birds eat berries and excrete the seed out again – mime being squirrels and birds

• Sticky seeds such as burrs stick to feathers, fur and human clothes and are dispersed this way – one learner attaches to another by locking arms

Seeds catapulted from exploding seed pods:

• Big star jumps in air clapping hands above head and shouting ‘bang!

 Focus – story of a seed

Look at our seeds. How do you think these  seeds are dispersed?

Will they all survive to germinate?

Will they survive to grow to full maturity and produce their own seeds?

Discuss as a group. Create stories about the seeds.

 Illustration – Seed stories

Noticing on the way to the Base

Pale Tussock Moth

The females are much larger than the males, but both rest with distinctive forward-facing furry legs. The markings are usually darker and more extensive in the males, which also have feathered orange-brown antennae. The males often come to light in larger numbers than the females.

The larvae are a bright greenish-yellow, with four tufts of golden yellow hairs. They grow slowly between late June and early October, then overwinter as pupae.

Caterpillar Food Plants

A wide variety of broadleaved trees and shrubs including hawthorns, blackthorn, crab Apple, oaks, birches, Hazel, limes and elms.

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Forest Friday

Session 3

Fourth Class

What can we find on the way up to our base?

I wonder where this wool comes from? Are there seeds in these rowan berries? I call these helicopters because they fall like a helicopter. When you touch this yellow fungus it turns brown.

Free Play.

Looking after baby pine cones. Exploring paint and colour. Playing a game of Imposter.

Focus – extending skills and ideas, making and using string and rope

  • How long can you make some string?
  • Can you make some string into rope?  Make it thicker
  • What else can you use to make string?  How is it different to the reeds?
  • How strong is my string? How can I test it?
  • What could you use the string for?  A mini playground?
  • game of conkers?

Second Class

Finding seeds

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Forest Friday

Session 1

Friday 10th September 2021

We are delighted to be back in the forest with the children from 2nd and 4th class this term. Both these groups have had lots of time already in the forest, building connections with their natural world and learning the skills of using what’s around them to play with. Before any input for adults the children were happily exploring the area with all their senses.

Fourth Class

We played some games and named lots of places on the way to base camp.

Making Tea.

Blackberry tea tasting

Place Names

Just like adults, children need names to refer to places that matter to them. Sometimes they use adult toponyms but there are many reasons why they may need, or choose, to invent their own.

  1. Firstly, they may simply not know the adult name for a particular place.
  2. Secondly, however, different sorts of place interest children than adults, and there may well be no adult names for some of these places. Research by geographers like Roger Hart, Harry Heft and Nicola Rosshas demonstrated that children’s spaces are often minutely differentiated–Ross’s study of children’s journeys to school shows that apparently insignificant features like gaps in hedges, slopes and particular trees and bushes can be invested with meaning for children (Ross, 2007).
  3. Thirdly, children’s toponyms sometimes play a defensive role, serving to keep adults out of children-only spaces of the kind that David Sobel has explored in his illuminating study of dens, forts and special places (Sobel, 2002). At the same time, invented toponyms can facilitate play and strengthen friendship group identity through creating a shared frame of reference.

In pairs the children chose an area of their new base and named it. They used colour from nature for their signs

Place Name Signs

Second Class

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Forest Friday

Session 9 : Our final session this school year.

Fourth Class

Last week the children were asked what they would like for their final Forest Friday session.

Here are my notes from their suggestions-

  • Bird nest site if fledged
  • Café- serving cocktail tea at the table.
  • Weaving
  • Watercolour painting in pairs
  • Paper
  • Lots of games
  • Clay, anything
  • Lots of free play
  • Time in the fern base

The Cafe

Chilling Out in Trees

First Class

Notes from last week on the request of what materials to bring and what they would like to do on the final session-

  • tea – nettle, bramble and gorse
  • Markers
  • Games, Bat and moth, Forest Lava
  • Clay
  • Paper to make aeroplanes.

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Forest Friday

Dalkey School Project N.S.

Session 8

Fourth Class

Elderflower Tea

Weaving Friendship Bracelets in pairs

First Class


Folding leaf planes

Leaf Shapes

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Forest Friday

Session 7

Fourth Class

Celebrating Bealtaine.

As this is our last session in May we celebrated growth. We looked at the flowers and new growth of leaves on trees and ferns.

Wishing Trees (aka May Bushes, Fairy Trees, or Rag Trees) are hawthorn trees where people tie ribbons to ask blessings from the local saints/deities/wee folk. The hawthorn flowers in May, time of the Bealtaine festival of rebirth. Local people still tie ribbons or strips of colourful cloth to the wishing tree as a symbol of their prayers or wishes. If you visit in May or June, you’ll find wishing trees covered in colourful fabric and rippling in the breeze. May bushes were usually associated with a holy well, but time has often dried up or filled in many of the wells. The wishing trees that still grow beside known holy wells tend to be used year-round.

Last week the children said that they really loved exploring colour. So his week we looked at colour of Bealtaine in the new growth of leaves and flowers. As we walked up the hill the children gathered plants. We were up in the clouds which created a very mysterious atmosphere.

Wishing Rags

Hapa zome colour exploration -By folding the cloth in half with the leaf or petal inside you get a mirror image. Once the petal is under the cloth then it is a matter of gently pounding it with a mallet, hammer or even smooth rock. The surface underneath will come through so find a smooth surface to work on.  

 Explore colour and paint on the fabric around your prints.

  • What happens if you put the paint on dry fabric?
  • What happens if you wet a spot first and then add the paint?
  • Can you make one colour bleed into another?


Gather at a May bush. Have a look at the leaves, branches, buds and flowers. Hang the rags on the branches.

Parent invitation

Explain that we are going to invite their parents to take part but as they aren’t allowed to join us this year, we’re sending a rag home for them to create with their parents.  Talk through instructions.

Bring your rag home. Explain what it is to your parent/ guardian.

Teach your adult how to do Hapa Zome. Explore plants around your house, and show them how to print on their rag.

Find a place at home to hang your rags maybe on a fairy bush or tree or a plant in your house or on a balcony.

Jenny’s Group

First Class


May Bush Wishes

Gradually there was a silence in the woods as the birds stopped all their sweet singing and loud cawing. Animals, birds and some children could hear a gentle ringing of bells. All the fairies of the woods, hedgerows and fields could hear the ringing of bells loudly as fairy ears knew what it meant. it was May. It was the annual meeting at the fairy bush or May bush and the bluebells rang out to all the good hearing the fairies.

The May fairies in the May bush heard the bluebells and were tired but excited. During the winter they had made tiny red-tipped buds and set them on the branches of the trees, two at the foot of each thorn. Then they crept down into their warm homes again to wait for the spring. In spring, they worked hard, blowing out the buds with their dainty breath, until at last the leaves opened and the trees were dressed in fluttering green. Then they had to work on their flower buds. They made their wee round flower buds and set them on the trees, and blew into them and puffed them out till they looked like tiny snowballs.

Harder and harder they blew, until at last the flowers flew open. Then the trees looked as if showers of white stars had fallen on them from the sky. How lovely they were! The little flies and bees came from far and near to feast, buzzing out their thankfulness to the fairies for the sweet nectar.

The May fairies were happy but tired because the day before large human people arrived at the May bush. They gathered around admiring the closed snowball buds and the star like flowers. They had their own ‘flowers’ fluttering in the breeze in their large hands. They stood around in silence but to the fairies it was not silent as they could hear their thoughts like whispering. The May fairies listened carefully to untangle all the whispered words into a collection of wishes. 

The humans hung their ‘flowers’ on the branches of the May bush adding to the beauty.

The next day, the day of the meeting, it was easy for the all the fairies to find the May bush. Bright green fluttering leaves, snowball buds, white star-flowers, flies and bees buzzing around and wishing rags fluttering in the breeze they flew towards it from the North, South East and West. They had a busy meeting dancing, singing and sharing out the human wishes.

Jenny’s Group

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Forest Friday

Dalkey School Project N.S.

Session 6

Fourth Class

Today was a very wet Friday. The main aim is to keep the children warm and comfortable. Having looked at the weather forecast we decided to include the rain as part of the plan.

Tasting rain as it drips from a branch.
Eire 7. Dara points out the World War 2 sign and tells the others about it.

Focus – Weather painting

Large sheets of paper

Water colours

Make brushes and pens from materials you find in each base.

The children will make paintings in 3 of the areas the areas they have explored in the past few weeks

  • In each area find the wettest part.
  • How do you know it’s the wettest part?
  • Find the driest part.
  • How do you know?

 The children will work in their pairs on a large sheet of paper. In the most sheltered place, ask them to place each colour of paint with a brush or pen on the paper in any shape or lines that they want. Ask them not to paint over anyone else’s paint.

  • We are going to let the rain mix the colours.
  • Take the painting to the wettest part.
  • Look at what happens?
  • Have your marks changed?
  • Has your colour changed?
  • You can lift the corners and make colour rivers.

First Class

Wet day fun. How deep can you go?

Checking on our May bush.


Make a flower

  • ·         At the base each child chooses a flower with its stalk attached and its leaves.
  • ·         Make a large version of your flower and leaves.
  • ·         Choose a stick for the stalk.
  • ·         Have a look at your flower, how long does your stick need to be?
  • ·         Poke the stick in the ground to hold it upright.
  • ·         Look at the shape of your flower and leaves.
  • ·         Use some clay and other materials to make your flower and leaves.
  • ·         What materials do you need to gather to make all parts of the flower?

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