Dalkey School Project/ Forest Friday

Session 2

Senior Infants

The children began this week with their activities on picnic blankets. Each group had a different box from last week.  Once everyone arrived we divided them into their three pre-arranged groups.

Pine Trees

This week our focus tree was the pine. On our way up to the base camp we stopped at different pine trees. We smelt, looked and touched the needles, bark and resin and found lots of pine cones on the ground. Needles were picked and put in our teapot for later.

Up at the base camp we played a memory game – five objects were picked from inside the boundaries and shown to the children. The children were encouraged to use their senses to remember them.  The objects were covered up and the children went off to find matches for the objects.

Our story this week was about the Pine and making a home for animals. Pine and Holly story from –https://www.forestry.gov.uk/pdf/fcms128.pdf/$file/fcms128.pdf

We discussed how we might build shelters for our creatures we created last week.

“Where does your woodland creature live? Look around your base camp. Does he/she live in the high rocks, in the trees, underground or a tepee hut? What will you need to make a cosy home? Do we need to take a foraging walk outside the camp for more materials?”

Some children chose to work together while others were very happy to work on their own home.

At the end we visited each other’s homes. The children were very generous with their praise.

Finishing with a quiet time in the forest.

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Second Class

On the way up to base camp the class also explored pine trees and collected needles for tea. We found other plants we could eat – new beach leaves, wood sorrel and wild garlic.

Free play – skipping with an ivy vine.

While the children were having lunch we played a mystery guess game – I gave clues about an animal and they had to guess.  They also had the story of the Pine and the Holly.

Den building

We discussed how we would make a den and where would be the best place in the base camp. They came up with two suitable places and chose the one that had two trees and a wall to attach the structure on to.

The den had to be –

1) Big enough for someone to sit in

2) Comfy enough for someone to sleep in

3) Have a beautiful view from the entrance.

We started with the structure. We went off to collect very large branches to build the basic structure.IMG_0866 copy The children showed great team work. They put up the basic structure and then we stopped to plan and consider what to do next.

They were given drawing tools – pens and pencils, and card.

During these weeks in the forest I want to develop drawing. Children as this stage often think of drawing as a picture and it should be good/pretty. Over the weeks I would like them to see that drawing can be a way to organise their thoughts and to be able to share ideas by explaining through their drawings.

We sat in a circle so we could share ideas. There were amazing ideas, a skylight to be able to see the leaves of the trees during the day and the night sky, a shelf to put food; wild garlic, beach leaves and wood sorrel on. Beds made of soft leaves etc.IMG_0875 copy

Having shared their drawings they were able to work really well on ideas together.IMG_0894 copy

A clothes line made from an Ivy vine.

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The skylight from inside the den looking up at the leaves.

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A stone plate with wild food and cones for candles.

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Finishing the day with a quiet time.

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Dalkey School Project Forest Friday


Session 1

For those new to the blog, Dlr Creativity in the Classroom joined forces with the Dalkey School Project’s outdoor programme last year. We looked at the aims and objectives of both programmes and decided that they were very compatible.

Two years ago 2014/2015 Ms. Dungan did a pilot project of outdoor education/ forest school with the then senior infant class. Dlr Creativity in the Classroom had already been part of the school curriculum for a few years. Many of the themes overlapped and the children sometimes worked outdoors during their Dlr Creativity in the Classroom sessions, so we decided to work together. This has been a great experience for me and the feedback from children, parents and teachers has been very positive. Senior infants will come to Killiney Hill from 8.30am to 11.00am and second class will come from 11.40am – 2.00pm. for the next nine Fridays. The senior infants class from 2014/2015 have had experience of Forest Fridays during the pilot project. This will interesting to see how that experience informs our programme this year.

Today was an introduction to the programme for the senior infants.

Meeting point – The Pine Grove

The children got dropped at the Pine Grove. There are 5 gathering points on picnic mats. Each mat has a box of natural materials for each group to explore as they wait for the whole class to gather.

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The children were divided into three groups. They will stay in these groups for the nine Fridays.

Journeying up to the base camp the children stop and notice things along the way. IMG_0710 copy

At the base camp the children explored the area.

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The story this week was Mama Africa/Mother Earth

Once upon a time Mama Africa was sitting all alone in the plains, dreaming and breathing, dreaming and breathing. There were no animals then, no insects buzzing around. No creepies crawling. No lions roaring (this is a good moment to involve your listeners and ask them to suggest animals to which you can add a verb)… As the sun warmed the earth and the rains watered the land all kinds of plants grew up around Mama Africa. She gazed at them in wonder. One day Mama Africa pushed her strong hands down into the friendly earth and felt around. She felt something cool, moist and squidgy. When she pulled her hands back out she had some clay in them. She loved the clay and made all kinds of shapes from it. Into the clay she stuck different shaped parts from the plants around her…seeds, buds, branches and twigs. Onto the clay she pressed all kinds of colours and patterns from the plants and rocks.

After she had finished each creation, she put it in the sun to dry. When they were all dry, Mama Africa gave each of them a name and breathed on them. The clay figures came to life and went off to live amongst the plants, walking on the land, flying through blue skies and digging burrows into the earth. And that’s how it came to be that all the animals and people came to live in Africa and some say, deep in the rainforest she is still there, making new creatures every day.

The children created their own creatures. They looked for materials in the base camp and used clay to put it all together.

When their creature was made they chose a place to photograph it in.

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Our focus tree today was the Hawthorn. The children tasted the new leaves and we made tea with them.

Second year

Wow! Yes, to have a programme throughout a school over several years really works. It could be seen today with the second class. Their confidence of engaging with the forest was evident.

Journeying up to the base camp we stopped to notice things.

The children thought that the leaves looked like hands and fingers. They made their own hand leaves.

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At the base camp they had lot of free play to explore their area.

Our story was about our focus tree – the hawthorn.

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Tasting hawthorn leaf. Children used to call it the ‘Bread and Butter Tree’.

Irish Fairies and hawthorn bushes

In Irish folklore, these Lone Bushes are the meeting places of the Fairies and guard the gateway to the otherworld. Irish fairies are believed to be the Tuatha de Danann, one of the first tribes to arrive in Ireland. They were a magical and secretive people and were very skilled crafts people.  They originally lived on ‘the islands in the west’ and had perfected the use of magic. They traveled on a big cloud to the land that later would be called Ireland and settled here.  When warrior tribes like the Milesians began to arrive in Ireland the Tuatha de Danann were defeated in battle but would not be forced to leave. They loved Ireland so much they decided to use their magic to shrink themselves and live underground.  Thus they became the fairies of Ireland ( not at all like the Disney fairies.)  Tunnels are believed to travel all over the country to different fairy villages. Each fairy village is marked by a single hawthorn tree or Lone Bush located nearby.

The name of one of the Tuatha de Danann gods, Eriu, is the name of our land. Eriu or Eire is still used in modern times as the name of Ireland.

The fairies are a secretive people who are blamed for many things which they cannot explain. As a result the fairies like to be left alone and it is considered bad luck to disturb a fairy circle or tree. But, they do love children and if you treat them well they may just grant you a wish at their fairy tree or Lone Bush. If ash and oak and thorn are found together there is much fairy activity there.

We discussed the idea of putting their wishes on the tree. ‘What kind of wishes would they like to put on the tree? What kind of wishes do you have for you, your family, friends, people you love, your home? Close your eyes and think about your wishes’

‘On your rag make drawings or write about your wishes with pen. To add colour you can use plants. Find a big rock to lie out your rag. Place a plant e.g. dandelion on the rag and hammer it with a stone. Try different leaves and plants.’

We hung the wish rags on the tree. We all closed our eyes and sent those wishes to the fairies.

When we finished the children took the wish rags off the tree to bring back to the classroom.

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by | April 28, 2017 · 5:46 pm

Junior and Senior Infants, Holy Family N.S – Week 9- Visit to dlr LexIcon

Great excitement this week as both the Junior Infants and Senior Infants visited the Song of the Sea exhibition at dlr LexIcon Municipal Gallery in Dún Laoghaire. And what an exciting start to the day as the Garda Community bus collected the children and even put on the siren for them!

“Song of the Sea is a visually stunning and moving story of Ben and his little sister Saoirse – the last Seal-child – who embark on a fantastic journey across a fading world of ancient legend and magic in an attempt to return to their home by the sea. This interactive, multi-media exhibition of original drawings, prints, storyboards and , animation, music and scene-realisation provides an imaginative and accessible insight into the movie- making process and reveals what was involved in creating this Oscar nominated film.”

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We had a chat about one of the storyboards looking at the different pictures and noticing that the same images were repeated and the same characters were shown in different positions – this helped us to understand how an animation is made. We talked about their favourite cartoons and how the character eg. Spongebob looks the same throughout a film so the animators have to draw him the same in each scene. We also remembered the monsters and landscapes we had made and how this was kind of like making a scene in a cartoon because we also had a character, a friend and a background.

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We looked at the drawings and paintings that were done on glass also and counted the layers in the picture to see how it was put together. Then we returned to the project room where we made our own stories on concertina books using patterned papers for the backgrounds and came up with a story with a character that would be in the story and repeated through the pages. Beautiful work by both the Junior Infants and Senior Infants and a really enjoyable morning at the LexIcon!

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Junior and Senior Infants – Holy Family NS – Parents Workshop

We had invited in the parents of Junior and Senior Infants to participate in our workshop and help us to finish our scenes. Last week we had made our monsters with moving arms and bouncy legs and now we needed to do the background and add elements to these models and maybe to add some friends. We had a great turn out of parents for both classes and all the parents got stuck in very quickly and we had two very busy workshops and some great creative and imaginative work. The children were able to explain to their parents how they had made their monster and how they might make another one and add to it. At the end we asked a few of the class to tell us a little bit about what they had made and how they had worked with their parents and who made the decisions etc!

I had planned these workshops in preparation for our visit to Song of the Sea exhibition we will be visiting at dlr LexIcon Municipal Gallery so that the children can begin to see how animations are planned with moving parts and planning the background and context of a character.

A great morning had by all! And everyone was very proud of their creations!

Junior Infants’ and Parents’ Workshop

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Senior Infants’ and Parents’ Workshop

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Junior and Senior Infants – Holy Family N.S – Week 7: Standing Cut Out Monsters

As both class groups will be going to visit the Song of the Sea exhibition at dlr LexIcon in a couple of weeks I wanted to get the children thinking about developing characters and putting these characters into backgrounds and moving. So following on from last week we were going to make monsters/ creatures that could stand up and move. So with a quick demonstration I showed how we could cut out different shapes for head and body then use folded strips of paper to make bouncy legs and then use split pins/ brass fastners to attach arms that could move around. Both class took off with great enthusiasm in making their monsters – drawing and cutting out the different elements of their creation from different coloured card.

So then the next part was to get them to stand – we are going to use aeroboard as a stand and then tape a stick to the back of our monster and stick it in the stand. Some monsters were really tall and long so needed a few sticks to get them standing upright! Junior Infants just had enough time to get their stands/ bases covered. We have invited the parents/ grandparents/ guardians in next week to join us for our workshop so hopefully they will help us to make some backgrounds and maybe some friends and other bits and pieces to complete our set!


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Junior and Senior Infants – Holy Family N.S – Scribbly Monsters with Many Eyes!

As we are going to visit the Song of the Sea Exhibition in a couple of weeks at the LexIcon Municipal Gallery I thought it would be good to look at developing characters from drawings. So we began with mark making with me giving a word that the class responded to with a line – for example we began with a straight line, then a long line, then a short line. So this was straightforward enough and the group experimented using different colours. I then asked them to swap their drawings – this caused consternation (in both classes) as they all tried to claim their drawings back and instruct the next person on what colours they were to use on “their” drawings”. Once we had swapped once and I encouraged them to work over or on top of the other drawing they kind of got used to it!

So then we had to look really hard at the drawings – turning them around to see if we could find a monsters eye……

Was there more than one eye? Was there a nose? Was there a mouth? Tongue? Teeth?

Did the monster have legs? Wings? Hands? Feet? Tail?

We continued on until we had a complete monster then cutting them out we stuck them onto another large coloured sheet and assembled a place for the monster to live!

Great work by Junior and Senior Infants!

Here are Junior Infants Monsters


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and here are Senior Infants Monsters

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Senior Infants – Holy Family N.S – Week 5: More Block Printing in Colour

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We began this week by looking at some images of natural and man made patterns in the world around us. Some images had natural and man made patterns in them and some were of very close up patterns like the skin of the boa constrictor snake which we took a lot of guesses to figure out what it was!

As with last week we each got two foam blocks to draw and engrave our natural and man made shape into. This week we were going to work in colour so each table was set up as a printing station for one colour ink – blue, brown, green and yellow. A very busy printing session began with the class moving between different tables to print their blocks alongside each other. They experimented with the different colours inks on different colour papers to great effect. We then did one large sheet with everyone’s print on them.

Great work Senior Infants!

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