April 10th 2017
Aim: To plant an outdoor willow dome that will grow with the children as they journey through primary school.
7.30am I was heading to Belfast travelling on a coach on a beautiful sunny day. I had with me over 50 willow cuttings that I was slightly worried were sweating in the plastic bag. I had planted the other 50 willow cuttings with the senior infants class in St. Raphaela’s N.S. in Stillorgan. Together we had planted a 3 metre circle and would hope the cuttings would take and grow over the next year. Ideally both groups of children will be the caretakers of the two domes. It would be wonderful if the two classes could visit each other in a few years time……
Ms. Harriott was waiting for my arrival and had the children reading their pieces to complete the cuboids we had been working on over the last couple of sessions. Seeing Ms Harriott’s adapted cuboids I was immediately taken with how beautiful they were. The sides of the cuboids held portraits of each of the children and the bases would display the maps of their journey to school. I had brought extra acetates and overhead marker pens with me. It is surprising how quickly these pens run out especially as they are very expensive and very hard to get. People rarely ever use overhead projectors, it is all digital. I myself still have a reel-to-reel machine and a 35mm slide projector. Most people reading my blogs would have no idea what these are. I shall take a photograph.
We initially got started on the maps but the weather threatened to be torrential hence we headed outdoors to find our planting spot. We walked over much of the schools grounds and eventually decided on a flat green area in front of the school. This area also will allow for tunnels to branch off if we want to do so in a couple of years. It was all very physical to mark out the precise dimensions of the circle base of the dome. The ground was quite hard hence the children returned to the classroom whilst I pushed 50 holes in the ground where the children would plant the willow cuttings.
It was wonderful to be out of doors together with the children getting dirty planting the willow cuttings ensuring we had them the right way up (I am not a very experienced gardener!). We did our work quickly as we were racing against the rain and a group of very satisfied novice and hungry gardeners returned to the classroom.
After lunch we worked on completing the maps of our routes to school. I had initially thought the each cuboid group would create one map but every child made their own. We were not able to use all of the maps but I placed two on top of each their and attached them to the bases of the cuboids. The day over for the children I stayed to install the completed pieces in the school. A very bright area of a main corridor was identified and we suspended the 7 colourful cuboids from the ceiling. They move beautifully in a gentle breeze and display such wonderful characteristics of many of the children is attracted many viewers and lovely reactions from so many people children and adults as they walked by.
I felt very happy and contented as I headed of for the bus journey back to Dublin in the late afternoon.