22.03. 17 Real visit – Real excitement!

I knew the children would have fun today! Naomi’s real visit once again would cause great excitement. Fun things would happen.

It’s amazing how much a stimulus a plain old cardboard box can be! But when that is x15 it’s a sure recipe for fun and laughter, encouraging conversations and sparking imaginations.

The boys and girls worked in pairs so willingly listening to the other ones ideas. ‘IMAGINE if……’ was announced more than once.  The class got busy drawing on their boxes. They walked around for a while, clutching their box tightly, owning it, until they noticed either a larger box or an interesting word jumping out from the side of one.

The items Naomi cleverly picked seemed to bring us full circle. Things we had seen many times:

The spider plant, the flower press, books about plants and that big warm blanket that also came the first day to our class!

In the afternoon part we allowed the children to investigate special places normally out of bounds. That alone caused such a buzz. Being given access all areas , doesn’t usually happen!

Naomi hadn’t made it that easy to gain access. Firstly, they would draw on the covered door or cupboard what they imagined to be hidden inside.

The doors covered in brown wrapping paper included the principal and the staffroom doors. This in itself generated interest among other staff members and pupils from other classes.

Mrs Hinds was happy to oblige and let a little snooping take place in the principal’s office. She particularly liked the drawings of herself

This final drawing activity would be remembered for a long while by the children. The few marks from the permanent marker still on the staffroom and principal’s doors would also remind me of the fun activities undertaken with our very own artist Naomi.

They make me smile and cheer me up!

Soon they will be replaced by new doors and sadly this class’s journey will soon be replaced too.

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8.03.17 Hidden inside

Naomi had forwarded me the net cube shape which would be part the activity for this lesson. Naomi had her box made.   It was great to see how well the class were managing with their cutting skills. Three adults were there to give support if needed to fold and stick the boxes.

The class were receptive to the instructions given. They were much better listeners now. They had to draw on the yellow or blue sticky label and place on one of the cubes faces.

The descriptions given by the person owning the boxes varied greatly.

If it was difficult to guess with the first clue, the next person could use the                                  drawn illustration and another verbal clue to hopefully guess correctly.

Full participation was observed at each table as they passed the boxes back and forth across the table

By changing the colour of the sticky labels made it much easier for the children to remember which of the images they had drawn.

The children really engaged in this activity and thought a lot about how they would describe what they had drawn inside the box.

The opening of the box was the best bit.

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22.02.17 Our precious things

It was the day we were exploring precious things and spaces they were kept in.  I realised how precious the relationship I had build up with Naomi was.  It felt a little strange welcoming someone new into our special space.

Fortunately it was a chance meeting at an Art course over lunch with Vanessa, that I was first introduced to Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership and The Virtually There project.

Vanessa had let me share her Virtually There session for a morning and now I was sharing my precious Virtually There space with her.

I had observed, what appeared to be, the effortless relationship between Vanessa and Andrew, the artist she had worked with for many years on the project.
A similar relationship I think is building between Naomi and myself.

Vanessa slotted right into the class activity and was sharing her precious object with the class. As the lesson unfolded it was lovely to have another enthusiastic person interacting with the children. Vanessa had so much time with the children and was so encouraging. Mrs Patton videoed conversations with the children on the ipad.  Another dimension was now operating alongside the familiar exchanges with Naomi at the microphone.

It’s good to have Vanessa in sharing the class experience.



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31.01.17 Cornflakes 2 Design safe places

Naomi gave the order to use the treasure map again to find if the golden treasure was still where they had placed it. A great buzz was filling every inch of the classroom as they retraced their steps with their maps in hand.

Naomi was quick made aware that some weren’t there! Oh No!

No there definitely wasn’t a mouse – just our cleaner doing her job well and hovered or dusted away. We would check this all with our caretaker just to be sure! Others exactly where they were placed the week before.

Naomi and I planned to make little houses to keep a cornflake safe. We did not expect the creative little spaces they came up with.

The class had shared with Naomi many different fabrics and materials that protect things the week before. I gathered up as much of these as I could for this week’s session.  Bubble wrap tissue paper, lids and tubs to name a few.     Junk materials in abundance the children would first plan what they would construct to house the cornflake safely.

Such thought and care was evident even at this stage.

The delight the children took at explaining in great detail to either Naomi or myself.

  • Soft nest like houses with the cornflake safely tucked away.
  • Envelopes folded with lids attached – which lid was the cornflake under?
  • Elaborate tubs and tubes attached together!



Children talking about and modifying their own work.


They responded so positively as they walked around the class and viewed their friends’ equally impressive safe little spaces.
Golden treasures housed in very original, safe little spaces.

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25.01.17 What is Fragile? What is Precious? – The Cornflake Part 1

How could we convey to five and six year olds the notion of preciousness? What is precious to them? How do you look after it? How could they experience taking care of something PRECIOUS or DELICATE?

Special things that can break. I have an idea for the class that Naomi also thought would be fun to try. The delicate thing given to each child to mind was a single cornflake.  They had to look after it during their break outside. How would they fare? Did they keep it safe?

Sounds quite an easy task!

Delicate‘ A new word for the class. I wonder  what the polish equivalent is?

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30.11.16 Get in close!

My favourite session this year!

Once again I was having issues with my whiteboard. It was ok though. Getting the class up close to the small computer screen actually added to the close observations we were planning to undertake around the school.

Descriptions- Naomi gave lovely descriptions of what she could see out of her window.  It was dull and foggy, a bit like here!  Listening carefully we tried to guess what Naomi was describing.    Then Naomi popped up the image of her description- yes an animal- two donkeys in her back garden- imagine that!

Could we go outside and observe, then describe things in our playground  to Naomi? We needed some help to scribe for us. Five willing Primary 7 pupils, with clipboards in hand, ready to record the children’s descriptions.

This was all very interesting to Harry and Aoife. Wow! The P2 boys and girls are doing this very cool stuff! Plenty of questions from the older children finding out about the type of artist Naomi Draper was.  It was a fresh November morning – the last day of the month, the last session before Christmas.

Once again I stopped to think what learning was goes on a Wednesday morning marked ART/UICT on my timetable. What else could I include on that tiny space on the grid?

Literacy -of course such quality exchanges every session.  Quiet pupils finding their voices, growing in confidence as the weeks progressed.

World Around Us -as we explore our own familiar environment and find out more about Boyle, Co. Roscommon, where Naomi lives.

Mathematics – Lots of shape and counting opportunities. Net cubes to follow shortly!

Thinking skills – at the heart of every lesson, with chances to work collaboratively with their friends coming so naturally!

Active Learning – Connected Learning – at its best!

The children made their viewfinders – coats and scarves on – ready for exploring the very familiar spaces. So engaged in the activity that they continued to focus their attention on the task even after the bell for break had sounded.  Seeing the spaces differently with their viewfinders. All classes  in the school should try this too!

The Primary 7 pupils had offered their services for any other Virtually There sessions happening in the near future.

Back in class once again the roles were reversed as Naomi had to guess what it was we were describing. We drew the things we looked closely at.

Naomi gave another set of instructions to help us draw  something. I was an active participant too! The penny dropped- I started to laugh – The children laughed seeing their teacher laugh. We all laughed.

“Did you listen well Mrs Cross?”



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23.11.16 Observing Space

Again we planned to be busy. We were on the move  for the session. We were prepared already!  The printing  station  already set up in the  temporary  classroom.-  the Primary 3 classroom.                                                                                                                                                   Problems needed to be fixed on my Interactive  Whiteboard

The Year 3 class, who had fun working with Naomi last year,   would love to have stayed on with us in their classroom  and had another lesson with their artist too!

Naomi wasn’t in her studio space –  an image of her studio  was placed on the Collaborate page   which encouraged close looking.  They knew what to look out for. They were starting to spot familiar things they knew were important  and special to Naomi . They remembered sitting in the studio n the classroom floor. What did Naomi bring up with her?
The pupils looked and traced round things the spotted.  A friend watched on closely in case anything was missed. Another friend,with eyes glued to the computer screen, also examining the scene presented to them on the white board. Waiting, watching, thinking.

Mrs Hughes our classroom assistant got busy with the printing. We all got busy today.
I realise how lucky the pupils and myself are to get to work so closely with such an inspiring and gentle person.

It’s quite a surprise to me how calm I actually be on a Wednesday morning.

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16.11.16 A Better Connection –without a doubt!


More energy as we waited excitedly for Naomi to join us! The children seem to have a sense of the experience being  a special one  and  it was coming to life.  They know Naomi now.

I wanted to utilise the interactive whiteboard more in the sessions and particularly wanted to get using the drawing functions during the class activities. We both decided to give it a go.

As well as continuing to work on our books, we would also be making print plates with circles  and lines

This would be the focus on the Collaborate page too.
SPOTS DOTS, LINES  AND  STRIPES as Naomi  called it.  This time the children would give Naomi  instructions as to where she should place the spots and stripes. I showed them how to enlarge the dots. They loved this!

Activities running alongside one another’                                                                                                       Dots and lines were moved round the whiteboard while at the same time they were being placed with great thought onto their printing plates. Naomi was chatting to individuals a lot during the session.

I am amazed that during one Virtually There session so much was going on and I had planned and willingly agreed to it!
I suppose that’s the thing with V.T. You wait and see what happens and how it all goes.  You try not to curtail things – instead observe  how the children manage and then respond to  where they  want take us next.
BUSIER BUT SLOWER There was a nice easy flow to the session.


Another work space  had been created up at board.

Happy to be getting the hang of it again.

Yes, a better connection established.



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26.10.16 Let’s meet our artist

Naomi arrived up in Belfast to meet her new recruits and cement this new relationship with the Primary 2 class. They were incredibly quiet as she was brought up to our class by our principal. How did she get here?

Then came the big smiles as they headed out for break.

Transported to Boyle !

On arriving back into class we were in a new, unfamiliar space. A large white sheet on the ground  was the space we were to occupy all day.





The children knew the space now we had moved into – Naomi’s studio, right there in our own classroom!
Fantastic listening, chatting, guessing, thinking,  waiting,  making.
We loved all the books Naomi had made.   Excitement as they wondered what would be inside a box called SNOW- White fluffy stuff soon filled the floor space along with spots and dots and blue and sunshine materials that would be added their own books.
A busy, happy class listening how to fold and make their own books.

The biggest smiles of the day belonged to Naomi and me. We were more confident now and ready to get going on this new Virtually There experience.

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19.10.16 A Drawing Recipe – Draw a dot

I knew what we hoped happen during the lesson  what we needed  was gathered ,

but we hadn’t chatted the way we usually do.

The board still hissing.

The children lively. Anxious to get busy and doing!

A great activity all ready to go.  Yet  I didn’t quite feel on top of it.

Children drew the most lovely flower images using basic spots and lines on tracing paper as they followed the drawing recipe step by step –

A dot , dots around the dot connected by lines. The same words given to all by Naomi.

I am delighted  to see how they interpreted  these instructions so differently.  None look the same.

I hope I get time along the way to expand this I would love to keep adding to it through the year.

This is a different class at the start of their Virtually There journey.   I think we have forgotten what it was like at the beginning last time.  The class are younger  as it is only October – we need to slow it down.

Maybe less words for now.

I feel a bit deflated. I hope this class connect with Naomi and vice versa.

Naomi’s calmness will be the constant, I’m sure!   The class I hope, sense this on the new journey they embark on.

Despite it not quite being as we had anticipated, the beauty of the children’s own veil makes me feel excited.

We are just getting connected to Naomi and what she does in her studio- far, far away in Boyle.
A real visit is planned.

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