Last Virtual Visit

March 26th was our last session on the ‘Virtually There’ journey. Everybody was disappointed to be ending this very new and enjoyable learning experience. The morning was again full of activity and the three hours flew.

One of our activities involved working with our origami boxes. We had a bag full of them at this stage. One group at a time chose a corner or part of the classroom to work at and a piece of furniture to work against. They used the origami boxes to build a structure and the piece of furniture to ‘prop’ it up. This activity was not as easy as it sounded as the boxes were different sizes and not all of them had right angled corners! It took longer than expected to build a structure that would stand up but who said every structure has to stay standing!

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Another activity involved the children finishing off the map of the village of Ardfert. They coloured in all the buildings, roads and green areas. When the road was complete they stuck on pieces of white paper and wrote numbers on them. These numbers would then be used to when playing the game.

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The questions and instructions that had been thought of last week had to be cut out and stuck together.


The children also made counters/characters to move around when playing the game.


The last activity that all children took part in was a pair activity. In pairs the children constructed a picture using a photograph of a trace of the past that they had taken a number of weeks ago. Each child cut out a piece of the photo and worked with their partner to form a picture from the two pieces of their photos. They stuck them onto an A3 sheet of paper and drew a picture around it. This was a great activity for using their imagination.

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So as the last session came to a close we were ready to play our new boardgame. The four children that got to play the first game were Aaron, Bryan, Tom and Ethan.

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As can be seen from the facial expressions the children were very proud of their game and were delighted to play it. We didn’t have time to make our own dice out of 4 of the origami boxes so we had to use a ready-made dice but we will make one soon to complete our own game.

We all loved being part of the Virtually There project. We learned allot from Vanya and we had lots of fun during the 6 weeks. The 3rd class children and I would like to thank the Tralee Education Centre and Kidsown for choosing us to be part of this wonderful collaborative project with Vanya our artist.


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March 19th – Second last session

Today’s session began with the children looking at their fingerprints. Vanya had sent on a picture of a fingerprint so I put it on the interactive whiteboard. It was very interesting for the children to see as I’m pretty sure that not very many of them had taken much time to study their fingerprints before.

They used a magnifying glass to get a better look at the lines on their thumbs and some of them used chalk to make the lines stand out. They then attempted to draw their thumb print on a sheet of white paper. They exaggerated the print by making it as big as they could.

Jamie discussing his fingerprint with Vanya
Jamie discussing his fingerprint with Vanya
Large prints
Large prints









Everybody have a good look at their fingers!




Here are some of the children’s drawings of their finger prints:









Another activity that we tried today was the children in their groups got a minute to make the most interesting shape with the origami boxes. This proved difficult enough for some of the groups because of the time restriction.

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The third activity of the day was working on the map of Ardfert. The children coloured in some parts of the map.

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While others wrote out questions and rules for the map which would soon become a boardgame.

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All the children got a chance to ley Vanya know how they were getting on with the activities and to tell her their ideas for the boardgame.

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Here are some of the children’s ideas on the board game questions and rules:

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Another enjoyable session full of many tasks and challenges.

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Keeping busy!

I’m sure Thursday is the children’s favourite day of the week. I often get asked the question ‘Is Vanya going to be here today?’ But ‘here’ of course means ‘virtually here’! The enjoyment is real and the experiences have been varied and all very interesting. This week’s activities include photographing the room that was made the previous week, writing a little bit about history, drawing a skeleton picture of an object/scene and discussion time with Vanya.

The class was broken into four groups and I gave each group one of the four activities to begin with. One group began taking photos. For this activity a sheet of white paper, a torch, a camera and of course the cardboard room was needed. Vanya explained to the children that the torch could be used to create shadows. The children experimented with this and each took a photo of their room.

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Another group took a sheet of paper each and either answered the question ‘What is history? or wrote about what it might have been like to be a child going to the old school in Ardfert years ago. This activity proved to be somewhat challenging for some children. They worked in pairs so that made it a bit easier.

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A third group took a sheet of acetate each and a marker, they focused on one corner/wall of the classroom and drew what they saw. They then changed the marker colour and drew what they imagined to be behind what they were looking at. With this activity a number of children asked me what would be inside that press door or behind that wall. This showed the need by some children to get the ‘right’ answer instead of just using their imagination. Maybe some more development on this sort of activity might be beneficial.

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The fourth group spoke to Vanya.

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Moving On

The task this week was for each child to construct a room with a floor, ceiling and three walls using the cardboard that they tore into pieces last week. They used the various types and sizes of the cardboard and white masking tape.

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This task was difficult for some of the children but others were willing to lend a hand to get the job done.


Vanya spoke to the children in groups about the photographs that they had taken the previous week showing traces of the past around the school. The children gave their suggestions as to how they thought these marks were made.


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Week Three

Our second virtual meeting took place yesterday 12th February. Our session began with Vanya talking to the children about traces and marks of human life. She showed them a photo of a radiator that had some paint knocked off to demonstrate what she was talking about.

The children in groups would later go around the school, search for traces of human life and take photographs of their findings. Here are some examples of what they found:

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These were some good examples of traces of human life and showed that the children understood the concept well.

A second activity that the children took part in was tracing a map of the village of Ardfert from the whiteboard onto tracing paper. The map was divided in four sections so that each group would get an opportunity to trace a part of it.

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The third activity that the children took part in was finishing a picture that they had been provided with a part of.

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The last activity was tearing up cardboard boxes that they had brought in.

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Vanya then spoke to the children about the different ways that we can record the passing of time and how we can describe history. Some children gave their ideas to her.

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The children enjoyed the session and it was great to have a selection of activities as it kept them working.

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Our first virtual meeting in the classroom

Our first virtual meeting in the classroom took place last Thursday, February 5th. The children had their research done and they were looking forward to telling Vanya what they had found out.

We began the session with Vanya saying hello to all the children again and getting to know their names. They loved the fact that when they came up to the computer screen Vanya was able to take their photo and put it on the whiteboard.

They showed Vanya what they had written in their booklets since her visit and they told her about measuring the school and drawing the floorplan of the school.

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The children then started to tell Vanya about their research. They told her many facts such as:

There were just two classrooms in the school.

There were four classes in each room.

There was a fireplace in each room and the children brought turf or wood to keep the rooms warm.

The pupils long ago brought bottles of milk to school for their lunch and warmer the milk by the fire.

The children got slapped if they didn’t know their lessons…….etc


All their research was very interesting and it threw up new questions.

Vanya then put some pictures of maps of the village up on the whiteboard. The children were asked to locate their own school, the old Ardfert school and many more local attractions. This was a good exercise in map work. We will definitely have another look at this type of activity in class.





The next activity involved the children listening to Vanya’s description of the front of her house and attempting to draw a picture of it. This was interesting to watch as the children were very unsure of the picture they were drawing and each child’s work was original!

The children then gave Vanya an update on their origami boxes. They now have a bucket full of them but they have to continue making! Vanya showed them a photo of what could be possible to make with them….

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The children were quite shocked when they realised that the people in the picture are real people so therefore the buildings made out of origami boxes are quite big to say the least! This was the end of our first virtual session in the classroom.



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Moving onto week 2

After Vanya left I asked the children to write down an account of their first session in their special ‘Virtually There’ notebook which they had made and were very proud of. They described what they had done and their favourite part of the session. A good opportunity for cross curricular integration here with some recount writing.

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Here is an example of the children’s thoughts on their first session. More can be seen in the class journal page.

The main message that I got from their pieces of writing was that they really enjoyed their first session. We didn’t have an online session with Vanya on week two but we had plenty to be working on.

I asked the children to ask their parents or grandparents if they had been a pupil at any of the old schools. Many had been so the children asked them questions that had been raised during our visit to the old school. They children found out lots of information and wrote it into their history copies. They shared their information with the class and really enjoyed bringing back the information.

I got a photo of the inside of one of the classrooms in the old school from another teacher in the school. The children thought it was very interesting as they could compare it with their own classroom. The photo also included Santa and they remarked on the way he was dressed differently to now.

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We also decided that we would measure the perimeter of our own school. Firstly the children sketched a rough floor plan of our school. We then got a trundle wheel to measure the length of the various walls around the school. When we returned to class the children made a drawing of the floor plan of the school with the measurements in their booklets. Here we have an example of bringing the strand unit measures to life and making it relevant. We will do some more work on drawing plans to scale in the near future.


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Ardfert’s Project Begins

Our project began on January 22nd 2015 with a visit from our artist Vanya. The children had been looking forward to her visit since virtually meeting her at the launch of the Virtually There Project on the 24th October in the Tralee Education Centre. During the three intervening months I was often asked the question ‘When will we be starting our art project?’

So the 22nd of January finally arrived for the twenty eight enthusiastic third class children. The children were delighted and full of anticipation when Vanya walked into the classroom. After the introductions the class began their first activity – making a book! Vanya told them that she was a book binder and they were all going to make a little booklet that they would use to record details of their ‘Virtually There’ project. This was something that was completely new to all the children and they were delighted with the thought of it.

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making a booklet2The next thing was what would we put into the booklets??

I had spoken to Vanya about picking a start point for the project and seeing where it might lead to so the area that was chosen was the strand ‘Local History’, strand unit ‘My school’. I felt this was a good starting point as our school is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

Our school is an amalgamation of four schools in the parish – the old Ardfert school, Banna School, Barrow School and Tubrid School. The old Ardfert school is situated very close to our school – about ten minutes walk. Vanya expressed an interest in buildings and architecture so this seemed to suit both sides.

It was a lovely morning so everybody welcomed the opportunity to go for a walk! The old school is situated very close to the middle of the village and next door to the church. The old school has been renovated in recent years but the exterior is as it was when it was used as a school

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We all had a good look around and even counted our steps to get an idea of the distance around the building. The children also counted the windows on the front of the building and their attention was drawn to the number of trees growing on the site. They looked at interesting and unusual features such as the object in the next picture….

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Many questions were asked and answers suggested by the children.

After all that investigating we returned to the school. Vanya spoke to the children about the estimated measurement of the perimeter of the old school. She also showed them an instrument for measuring the length and width of a room. It had a laser on it. She measured the classroom and the children drew a rough diagram of it.

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Vanya then introduced the class to origami! She showed them how to make a box using a square piece of paper. Some children found this difficult but they were assured that with a bit of practice they would all be able to manage it.

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And that concluded our first session and Vanya’s visit.


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