Ronan and Laoise have the parcel which Helen showed us last week.

In the parcel Helen enclosed a variety of materials for today’s session. She also sent one cardboard ‘plate’ for everyone ( including ME).


We have become so accustomed to the great weather that today is disappointing….the rain is back. Helen told us that this morning she cycled Reuben to school, in the rain and got wet!

We have a new pupil in our class, so we introduced Paul to Helen.


Paul told her that he has a Mum and Dad, two brothers, a cat called Lightning, and a dog called Sammy (who sniffs).


Everyone had an opportunity to show Helen their VT homework:

Tia: Her picture shows when she made her First Confession.


Ciaran: He drew Jesus. Jesus is a VIP. He is a very important person.


Sophie: Mary was the Mum of God and every day was happy. She would not let any harm come to her people.


Sophie also drew her First Confession day, and included her friend Sarah too.

Tia (again) She made a daisy chain and wanted to show it to Helen.


Charlie: He wrote that Mary was kind and she spread love. Jesus was generous, helpful, good and charitable.


Ryan: He said that he drew a picture of his First Confession. He  remembered that Jesus was born in Bethlehem.


Conal: He reminded us that Jesus will always love us, no matter what we do.


Stephen: He wrote these words to describe Jesus: holy, faith, merciful, saviour, disciples, risen, Son of God.


Sarah: Jesus needs help to spread the word of God’s love. 


Caitlinn:  She says prayers to Mary every night. Mary is the mother of God. She is very nice. She is careful.



Cliodhna: May is the month of Mary. This is Mary.

I have an Aunt Mary and she has kids and a pet dog.


     Eimear: God loves us every day. She wrote words about Mary – holy, love, grace and     glorious.

She also drew her memory of First Confession.



Aoife: She said she was very proud of herself at First Confession. At first she was nervous, but she felt happy afterwards.


Laoise: She wrote – Jesus, God, love, Mary, pray, forgiveness.


Olivia: She thinks God is generous, courageous, smart, kind, caring and loving.


Ronan: He enjoys going to church because he thinks of all the people in his family who have died. Sometimes he looks at the stained glass windows, the stations of the cross and the statues.


Darragh: He told the priest about the times when he didn’t show love, The priest told him not to do it again and to cheer up.


Oisin: He drew a picture of God making the world.


Helen spoke about today’s activity and showed the children some prints she had made previously (Blue Peter style).





For the practical part of the session we concentrated on preparing the ‘plates’ for printing.

(This is the SCIENTIFIC part): not found in WIKIPEDIA, but in Helen’s notes!

The ‘plate’ is a term used in most printmaking techniques. We are going learn how to do ‘Collagraphic’ prints. These are done on cardboard or hardboard. A collage of different textures are glued onto one side and printed using one or two colours. Other print techniques such as etching and dry-point, use plastic, zinc, steel or copper as the basis for their plate and either cut into or use acid to burn an image into the plate. Screen-printing uses stencils and lithograph uses a large stone. 

MATERIALS we need today:

  • PVA Glue
  • Pre cut cardboard squares
  • Glue brushes
  • Rice/spaghetti
  • Textured paper/card
  • Embossed wallpaper
  • Bubble-wrap
  • Lace
  • Corrugated paper
  • Sandpaper
  • Wool

Helen’s communication:

“I am going to ask the children to take their drawing as a starting point for a collage for their ‘plate’. Some children may wish to recreate a figurative image and others may choose to create something more abstract.

I have to tell the children that if they want to use text it must be written backwards.

Ideally the ‘plate’ needs to filled with a range of different textures of similar thickness.

Do not layer up the textures on top of each other and make areas of the plate too thick as it won’t print properly.

When the ‘plates’ are finished the children will need to add layers of PVA glue to the plate to ensure everything “stays put” during the printing process. I will visit again to do the printing itself.”

These are the finished plates:


                                          Everyone was happy with the plates. 


                                          Charlie                                             Carl


                                           Ciaran                                              Olivia


                                         Oisin                                                 Stephen


                                            Paul                                                   Darragh


                                            Ronan                                                   Sarah


                                       Sophie                                              Cliodhna


                                           Caitlinn                                               Aoife


                                           Eimear                                               Tia


                                         Laoise                                                   Conal


TEACHER: Some children had difficulty understanding the concept of making the collage. Even though Helen and I explained the process, and what they were going to do with the finished plate next week.

  • One child was using a colouring pencil to draw a picture on the plate.
  • Another child specifically wanted to use black corrugated paper.
  • Another child wanted to add layers of wool on top of the plate

I explained that the materials stuck to the plate had to be the same thickness for the print to work. I also told them that colour did not matter as the plate would be covered with just one paint colour in the next session.

During the forthcoming week I will let these children make another plate and they can see how both their plates print (or not, as the case may be.)

The PUPILS’ thoughts about the activity:

  • It was interesting.
  • I made a collage before in P2, but I didn’t make a print with it.
  • I enjoyed picking the things to stick on the plate.
  • It was messy.
  • I just wanted to use the crinkly paper like a window in the church.
  • The string was hard to stick on to the card.
  • I can’t wait to see what it will look like (the print).
  • Helen’s print looked really good.I
  • I don’t really know how it is going to look next time.
  • I made Jesus on a cross.
  • I put hearts on mine. I like hearts. They make you happy.
  • The wallpaper was good.
  • The mesh was very hard to stick on.
  • I didn’t think mine was good, but Helen said it will make a good print.

ANOTHER SESSION COMES TO AN END……………..Everyone is looking forward to the next one to see how the prints turn out, so HASTA LLUEGO SENORA.



Helen had hoped to have time to complete the work on the circles from Tracy’s visit.

  • Cut the roll of paper into four pieces. A piece can be placed onto each cluster of tables. (The tables will have to be cleared completely.) THANKS HELEN. (again)
  • The children will use the side of the paper that the circles have been drawn onto. Each group will choose one large circle on the paper to begin with. They will thicken the outline of this circle with a marker to identify it clearly for everyone in their group.
  • The children have to write and draw in this circle their perception/memory of the sacrament they have made recently – (First Confession). They can draw their ideas or mix words with images.
  • As their ideas develop they will be asked about the sacrament that they will make next year – (First Holy Communion).
  • The children will be asked if they have any ideas of other beliefs/cultures.
  • When the circle is full, each child will find a space outside the circle and draw a picture of the ideas they have been filling inside the circle. These pictures will be painted.
  • The paint will be applied in thin layers so that the colours can be built up, almost like using the sheets of coloured cellophane/ layering the colours on top of each other, giving lots of different new colours.

Look at these images Helen.

Say what you see. (It’s like Catchphrase)




                                   A cloud                        and                         a cuckoo.


You are living in cloud cuckoo land!

We didn’t get that activity completed.







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Session #14: When is a plate not a plate? PRINTING AND PARTING.

Wednesday 7 June, 2017.

Helen’s “real” visit and the last VT session of the school year.

We went outside to look for signs of Summer, and to inspect the contractor’s work in our grassy area in front of the Dinner Hall. The grass has almost disappeared, as there is going to be a fabulous adventure/play and learning area constructed within the next 14 weeks.



As we returned to our classroom we spied Helen coming towards us with what looked like a very heavy bag. The children were delighted to greet her. When we got to the classroom we told her what we had been doing outside, just before she had arrived. She said that she was thrilled to see that the willow shoots had taken so well and that they had already produced lots of leaves!

Cliodhna showed Helen the book she had made about her family. 

We asked Helen about her journey. She told us that she had an early start, but managed to sleep on the train. Reuben is at school and Samhrain is at Nursery today.

Then we talked for a short while about what was going to happen in the session.

Break time arrived. When the children went out to the playground, Helen set to work. She opened her Mary Poppins bag and a variety of exciting things were brought out.

She took out the fabriano paper (very expensive and Italian) and dampened it with a water filled sponge. Making the paper moist is crucial to the printing process, as this will help the ink to be absorbed evenly. She had blotting paper to absorb some of the water. She put the sheets of dampened paper back into a bin liner in preparation for the return of the children.

Then the inevitable happened…………………ALL the chairs had to be removed and ALL the tables had to be reconfigured. Thanks once again Helen!

Just enough time for a very fast cup of tea, and the children came back.

A RECAP of what we did in the last session:

Everyone made a plate in preparation for the collagraph printing.

  • What is a collagraph? It is a collage of textured materials on a plate for printing.
  • Collagraphy is a printmaking process in which materials are applied to a rigid substate – board or wood.
  • Collagraph comes from the Greek word koll or kolla, meaning glue,  and graph means “the activity of drawing.” The resulting print is termed collagraph/collograph.

Helen wanted to demonstrate the printing process to the boys and girls.

First things first.

She put on her apron, and prepared a table…….I mean “station.”

  • Her “plate” was placed on the table. She had shown this to us in our last VT session.
  • Next came a roller and a tray to hold it.
  • Then she put some blue ink a plate (a paper one) with a plastic knife.
  • She put an A3 sheet of paper on the table, and covered it with a sheet of sticky-backed acetate/plastic.
  • Finally a rolling pin and a wooden spoon with a flat side were placed on the table too.

I asked Helen if we could use paint another time as a substitute for ink. She replied that the ink is thick and sticky and ideal for the job, and that paint would not be at all successful. She said that each large tube of ink costs about £8 and lasts for quite a long time.

(1).   Set-up preparation.


(2).  Helen spread the ink on to the A3 sheet and rolled it to cover a large portion of the paper.


(3). The instruction was: Roll the ink onto the paper, not the desk!


(4). Make sure there is enough ink on the paper.


(5). Roll the ink onto the plate.


(6). Make sure all the raised surfaces are covered with ink.


(7). Move the inked plate onto the table……..”station” for printing.


“Just a minute………………while I get the fabriano paper.”(It’s Italian, and very expensive you know!)…………..It costs £4 per sheet, but you can get 6 pieces from each sheet.


 (8).   Carefully put the fabriano on top of the plate and secure it to the table with tape on four sides.


(9). Rub the paper gently with a flat bottomed wooden spoon, or….


                                                                       a rolling pin.


(10). Very carefully, lift a corner of the paper to reveal the print.



     Helen enjoyed that so much, she decided to show the children just one more time:



Helen had previously explained that if you want to write a word, you have to make it back to front on the plate…….Tia said, “Like a mirror.”

                                  Helen prepared two more stations, pink and green.


            Then it was time for the boys and girls to have a go, and they were very excited.

                                                                  Kella was first to go.



           Helen showed her how to roll the ink into the corner of the plate.




                                                               Rolling, rolling, rolling.

                                                                 The moment of truth:


                                                                             Well done Kella!

Everyone had an opportunity to choose his/her favourite colour and then it was ALL GO!


Stephen is very industrious!


                                         Great job Caitlinn!


                                            Conal chose green.


Laoise held the paper (Fabriano and very expensive.) for Olivia.


There were a lot of industrious children all over the place making super prints.

The plates looked just as good as the prints!!




 Ciaran wanted to use green.


             Look at Caitlinn‘s reaction to the double colour print!

Such organisation. It went like clockwork: ROLL the ink over the plate – Place the fabriano on top of the plate. Tape it in place. gently rub or roll. Lift the paper off the plate, and hey presto! Another great print. 

Finding a big enough space to leave the prints to dry, was difficult. However, we managed to find a suitable area “down the corridor.”



Helen said that it could take up to 4 days for the prints to dry.


Wow! Look at that amazing creation. Fabulous! Did I mention it was mine?

Then Helen showed the children what a print would look like by adding one more colour to the plate, so the process started all over again. (Just as well that I found that large drying space, wasn’t it?)

This is Cliodhna proudly showing her plate and print:










Everyone got a chance to make another print. Children who had finished their second print, made themselves busy by helping other children to carry the wet prints to the drying space. Then we had some super help from a band of excellent tidier-uppers. The furniture was moved back into its original position, and we had our Plenary.  

Just before we started, we had to mention some facts about Pirates. This is our last WAU Topic this year, and everyone is now a pirate expert, as Helen soon discovered! After the boys and girls startled her with surprising facts about Grace O’Malley etc, and scaring her with facts about Blackbeard, we decided to have a think about what we had learned and enjoyed in today’s session – #14.                                                                    

                    PLENARY  SESSION:

What was your favourite thing about today?


SARAH: I liked the double print, using pink and blue.

KELLA and TIA also liked using two colours.

CAITLINN: I loved being allowed to roll the ink onto the print. I enjoyed the rolling action.

STEPHEN: I enjoyed learning about printing.


SOPHIE said she had lots of fun and enjoyed making her prints. 

RYAN: I liked using the ink. I never did it before.

PAUL: I liked making the plate.

TEACHER/ME: I loved learning a new skill today. The prints lying on the floor to dry, look like a lovely, big patchwork quilt.


What was your favourite session – activity – theme during the VT year?

CONAL: I liked making the portraits. 

CHARLIE: I had fun making the bridges. I really liked joining all the tables with them.

AOIFE liked making the bridges too.

EIMEAR: I liked making the cuboids that are hanging on the ceiling. It was like problem solving and discovery.

LAOISE: I liked making the den with the tables and chairs and tubes and glittery thing (material). I liked making the hands on the tables too.

OLIVIA: I liked the construction and working in groups.

OISIN: My favourite was the bridges.

RONAN: I liked making the sculptures with spaghetti.

EVERYONE liked making the willow circle!

HELEN said that she liked the session when everyone talked about their beliefs. She said that it is difficult for younger people/children to explain their ideas about God, Jesus, church, praying etc. She loved the words the children used to describe their feelings.

                                                                    Image result for cross image kids clipart           

Helen asked everyone to take care of the willow circle, as she wouldn’t be back to St John the Baptist until the new school year starts. We promised to send photos of how it is growing.   


We presented Helen with a card and a gift, and wished her a lovely Summer, and a safe journey back to Goatstown.  She told us that she has just taken occupancy of a new studio, and showed some photographs (to the teacher). It looks very beautiful, with amazing windows which will let in lots of light.


Image result for FIREWORKS IMAGE
We all want to congratulate Tracy on the arrival of her new baby son. He was recently seen in Church, wearing  a lovely outfit with a bow-tie!
                                                                                      Image result for baby boy congrats image clipart

Friday 9 June, 2017.

We wanted to find out more about Collagraphy and Fabriano, so the teacher went on to YouTube and found some very interesting videos, images and information.


                                        Look at how the leaf veins are so perfectly printed!

                      Related image

                                                           The texture is so beautiful.

                                     Print by Angie Mitchell:  

                                                        What a beautiful print by Angie Mitchum.

                   Image result for fabriano town image

                                         This is what the town of Fabriano looks like!

We discovered this quotation in a very old book:

                                                            ” Rags make paper,
                                                               Paper makes money,
                                                               Money makes banks,
                                                               Banks make loans,
                                                               Loans make beggars,
                                                               Beggars make rags.”

            Related image                                          

    We found this really old image of how paper was made (from rags) long ago.


                                                  Hanging the paper to dry.

Image result for paper making in fabriano images

                                                Making paper in the traditional way.

       Image result for paper making in fabriano images

                   Related image

                     Related image

We also watched some tutorials on how to make paper and prints. We saw an old map showing where Fabriano paper making started, and how it got sent to other countries.



We were so happy to find that all the prints were dry. What should we do with them?

  • Put them together to make a giant print collection.
  • Put each one in a frame and display them together somewhere in the school so that everyone can see them.
  • Frame each one and give them to Dads, Grandads, or Uncles, as a gift for Father’s Day. (Next Sunday – 18 June)                   



Image result for JOANNA HARRIOTT

LOTS MORE TO COME IN 2017/2018! 


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   The children had a day of creativity before the Easter holidays began. They used their imagination (and a lot of scrap material and goodies from the local Pound shops) to create Easter bonnets and hats for our Easter Hat Parade in the PE Hall.      




Hundreds of eggs, rabbits and chicks were used, but no animal was harmed in the process. 






Everyone enjoyed a lovely Easter holiday and our next session with Helen took place on Friday 5th. May……………………Isn’t time flying!

Helen’s latest communication contained plans for the next three sessions.

We HAD planned to find out the children’s perceptions of Faith, God, and their encounter of religion (as much as 7 year olds can explain their thoughts and feelings). Then these ideas were going to be drawn and written on the paper we had used in Tracy’s visit.

Our plans had to be curtailed as the school had a visit from the Director of MS N Ireland. The entire school community had gone on a sponsored Walk for MS before Easter, and the Director had come to congratulate the children for the huge amount of money that had been raised. She spoke about the work which the charity does locally, and she also distributed certificates.



        This is Mrs. Morgan, our Acting Principal, showing everyone the cheque for MS.


Today’s session was a short one, but lots of ideas were recorded and will be used next Friday. Our school is named after St. John the Baptist and we have a metal mural in our foyer which has been on display since the school opened in 1973. There is also a lovely stained glass window in St. Brigid’s Church, Belfast, depicting the Baptism of Jesus.



 Every pupil in our school is encouraged to achieve his/her potential.


                        PLAY TOGETHER IN HARMONY.

                        PRAY TOGETHER IN FAITH,




As a Catholic school, there is a sacred space in each classroom. We use “Grow in Love,” which is our RE programme and pupils have a knowledge of the materials in this relatively new scheme. 

Some of our pupils come from different faith backgrounds and we are respectful of our differences and happy to celebrate our similarities.


There are many displays and posters on the walls throughout the school.


                                 Pope Francis is a great leader and a good man.

Last year we celebrated the Year of Mercy and all the pupils in our school had many opportunities to talk about showing love, empathy, forgiveness and friendship to each other.


Every pupil in our school knows that there is a Child Protection teacher and a School

Councillor teacher, plus other adults to help them if they have a problem.


                                                              Our Primary 3 Friendship Tree.


Primary 7 pupils made their Confirmation earlier in the year, at the beginning of March. Their lovely art work is on display for everyone to see.


               Each month we focus on a “VALUE.” This month it is LOVE.


                                                        We learn how to be good people/citizens in

                                                  PDMU and PATHS PLUS lessons.                       


  We made St Brigid’s crosses with paper straws.


   We change the things in our sacred space depending on the season and focus.

This is an icon of Our Lady of Guadaloupe. It is in our sacred space in the classroom.

                                                       We like reading stories from the Bible.                              


   We have lots of interesting illustrations in our Grow in Love books and flip chart.           


            We heard many Easter stories about what happened to Jesus long ago. 


                        We learn stories about Jesus’ life, and they help us to know him better.


We brought in photographs of our own Baptisms and some children have told us about celebrating their cousins’ baptisms too.

GOOD MORNING HELEN and welcome to a beautiful sunny day here in Belfast!

We told Helen that we had made a sign for our willow circle. We wanted everyone to know that it is very important to keep it safe by not walking through it or jumping over the cuttings.


            Helen showed us a model of a willow dome which she had made in her studio.


                 She showed us the parcel which she is sending to us for our next session.


She told us what she has put inside it, and asked us to bring in some embossed wallpaper.




She showed us materials which have different textures (smooth/rough) and we will be using these in a collage next Friday. There is also string, feathers, and leaves in the parcel. She mentioned a plate for printing, and everyone thought that sounded mysterious!

Then she asked the children about the big celebration they had before Easter – making their First Confession. She also asked them to tell her words which would help her understand what they think about God, the church, and their experience at the First Confession service.


This page from our Grow in Love book show other children making their First Confession.

Tia said that she was nervous at first, but the singing and prayers made her feel more relaxed, and she enjoyed making her first confession.


She said that when she goes to the church she likes to look at the statues, pictures and the Stations of the Cross.

Darragh said that he liked the singing in the church.

Eimear said that she thinks that God loves us all.

Charlie told Helen that when we went to the P3 / Parish Mass yesterday, he and Tia brought up the gifts to the priest – the wine/water cruets and the bread discs. He was proud that he had done a super job.                                                            


When the Mass was finished, he and Tia went into the sacristy and thanked Father McIlhill for being so lovely at the Mass and making everyone feel so relaxed and welcome. They gave him a big hug too. Father Mc Ilhill is very old and he had to hold the handrail when he walked down the sanctuary steps. He told a funny story during the Mass and everyone laughed. We thought that God must be inside the priest because he seemed so kind and loving!

Sarah said that Jesus helped spread the Good News about God the Father. The Apostles helped him too.



Conal (with a new haircut) said that he thinks God is caring and kind to everyone. He said that even if you do something bad, God will always love you.

Cloidhna (wearing fancy sunglasses on her head) said she wanted to tell some things about the Passover celebration that Jesus had with his friends. He knew that someone was going to abandon him, but everyone said, “No, no never!” Then he went to a park and fell asleep, and then a light shone on him and cruel people took him away. They gave him a tee shirt that said, “You’re the King.” They were all very mean to Jesus. He got hanged on a cross.

Then more children came up to the microphone to tell Helen their memories of the Easter story.

Sophie said that there was a wee place (the tomb) and Jesus started to come back to life. He spread the Good News that he was alive.


Charlie also described how the tomb opened and Jesus came out.

Carl said that he can say his prayers. We said the Our Father at Mass.

Helen wanted to find out more about praying.

Caitlinn said that her Daddy was involved in an accident. He got his leg broken by a truck, so she asked God to make him better. She said he got a new left knee cap and he still has a wheel mark on his leg. He needed crutches at first, but he is getting better.

Laoise said that when she goes to bed she says the Hail Mary, and asks God to take care of her family. She says prayers for her Granny, who has just got out of hospital.

Olivia said that she talks to God and asks him to help her and her family.

Oisin said that he has asked God to help his Daddy who got an infection from a cut when he was in England. The doctor came to his house and put medicine from a hanging bottle into a tube like a fire house into a needle in his Daddy’s arm.

Mrs Harriott (me) said that she is always losing things and she is constantly praying to St Jude to help her find things. When she finds things she says, “THANK YOU GOD!”

Helen said that she talks to God and asks him to give her more patience. She said that our story about the elderly priest at Mass made her think that God is in Father Mc Ilhill, and everyone who shows love, and care to others, just her Nana, (who is in heaven, and who was very funny.)

Mrs Harriott thinks that God is inside us, wanting us to spread his love, just like the Apostles. So when we are generous and think of others, we are doing God’s work.

 The conversation continued with: What do you think God looks like?

                                                             Where is God? 

We did not know quite where this would take us, but read  on …………………..

Ryan said that he didn’t know exactly what God looked like, but he thought he might be like an old man.

Helen said that her son Reuben thinks that God is like the sun, beaming with light, rather than a person.

Darragh had thought a lot and had plenty to say: He said that he thinks Jesus has a short beard, brown eyes and that he wears a tall crown made out of thorns. He is the King of everybody in Jerusalem…. a kind King to everybody. He also said that Jesus wanted everyone to remember him. He got bread from his body and wine from his blood. He had a cape on his head and everybody knows who he is. You won’t remember heaven when you die. You’ll say, “Why did I die?”

Tia said that God is everywhere.

May is Our Lady’s Month and we put a statue of Mary in our sacred spaces.


 Sophie said that Mary is Jesus’ Mummy and she helps people. When someone dies, she wouldn’t want you to feel sad because she (Mary) is in heaven looking after the people you love.


                                       This is a May display in the Link Corridor.


 Each child in our class made a Mary for the display wall in the corridor.

Sarah said that Mary has brown eyes and brown hair. She wears a lovely blue dress.


Then we mentioned that when we pray we sometimes thank God for all the gifts has given us, and sometimes we ask for his help.

Ronan said that his Aunty’s dog Dug died and he included him in his prayers.

Olivia, Tia and Eimear spoke about people they know that have died, and they have asked God to look after them in heaven.

After a short break, we spent 15 minutes with Helen before attending the MS Assembly. She gave the children a little homework for next week – She wanted everyone to think about our session and draw a picture and /or write something to illustrate their thoughts about what we had discussed. This will be incorporated into our practical activity. 

Lots of soul searching in today’s session.

I can’t wait to see what it looks like on paper!                                                           







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It’s MONDAY and Helen came all the way from Goatstown on the bus to be with us today. She had to get up REALLY EARLY and brought a bag of willow cuttings and some soil with her.

 This is Helen with a willow cutting and shoots.

She explained that we were going to plant the willow cuttings which her Aunt and Uncle gave her. They would be planted into the soil in a circular shape and through time they would grow taller. Then we would be able to take cuttings from the originals and plant them to make the circle thicker/denser. Helen will come back to our school from time to time to check on the growth of the willow and she will weave them into a dome shape. This is a long-term project, but before we could start, we would have to go for a walk around the school grounds to find a suitable place to plant the willow.

Before our WALK OF DISCOVERY, Helen wanted to see the maps which the boys and girls had started drawing on acetate. (These would be attached to the bottom faces of the cuboids later in this session).


                   Cliodhna’s map.                                                               Kella’s map.


                           Ronan and Aoife.                          Laoise, Olivia, Tia and Caitlinn.


Helen was very interested in everyone’s maps. She thinks the boys and girls could easily become cartographers!



We all went outside into the lovely sunshine, and after a lengthy search, and taking lots of factors into account (space for the willow to grow, a place in which there would not be much “people traffic”), we decided on an area at the front of the school in which to plant the willow cuttings.   

          This area is used for sports and games, so it was not a suitable space for planting the willow.                             


                                         This is the chosen area for the willow cuttings to be planted.

  • The boys and girls had to stand together to make sure the area would be big enough for a class to fit into. 
  • Helen used the same method to mark out the circle which the children had practised the week before………string attached to a peg, but she used paint spray to mark the grass.
  • Then she had to make 50 holes in which the willow cuttings would be planted. 







 PHEW! That was exhausting!

Helen had to make 50 holes for the willow cuttings to fit into, so we went back to class to continue with the maps while she did all the hard labour! We returned when she was ready for the children to plant the cuttings. Everyone planted 2 or 3.















The rain began to fall, just in time for us to return to the classroom.

Once inside, everyone finished off the maps on the acetate, and two of each were placed on top of each other and attached to the bottom face of the cuboid.

Helen volunteered to hang them at the top of the Link Corridor. This is a passage which connects the Key Stage 1 and 2 part of the school to the remainder of the school building. There are many windows along each side of it, and an ideal place to hang the cuboids.















                                              A view of the bottom face of the cuboids.


The LUNCH TIME bell rang, and so ended another great session.

Helen has promised to make another “real” visit before our Virtually There year ends.

The teacher (me) and Helen discussed a few ideas which may be implemented in the time remaining…………we’ll have to see. 

Meanwhile, all the children were very proud of the work they had completed, and were delighted with the many compliments they received from other pupils and staff.

THANK YOU HELEN!! We are looking forward to our next session.



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SESSION # 10 – VIRTUAL and REAL at the same time!

Today we had the pleasure of having Tracy join us for our session. She appeared at our classroom door with a big smile, and caught us on finishing a very quick symmetrical art / scissor activity. As she is a Maths expert, I was hoping we wouldn’t let ourselves down, and I think we just about got away with it!

She went round each table talking to the children about what they had done, giving me a chance to get organised for the session.

Shortly afterwards Helen appeared on the screen, and the boys and girls told her that we had a visitor. They supplied her with a few clues which were so good that Helen was able to offer the right answer!


Conal: Her name begins with T.

She has yellow curly hair with bits of black in it.

She is a lady from “Virtually There.”

“SHOW AND TELL.” This week there was another wide selection of items which the children wanted to show Helen.

Darragh wanted to tell her about his experience at “We are Vertigo” on the trampoline. He hurt his foot and it was swollen.

Kella had a squishy Moshum.

Cliodhna had her Elf on a Shelf. Apparently he moves about on Christmas Eve.

Sarah showed her shimmering dragon.

Eimear couldn’t wait to show her bird book, and there was a page about starlings. (Remember the murmuration?)

Sophie had made a pretty paper butterfly.

Ryan had drawn Peecho.

Olivia had a press of plastic nails which take on the shape of whatever is pressed into it. (I had a metal one in the 1970s!)

Tia showed her book about Bread – (our current WAU topic). She had made a pizza at home using naan bread as a base. (I said that was cheating!) The toppings were cheese. pepperoni, pineapple and mushrooms. I began to feel quite hungry so we moved on swiftly!

Aoife had a great story book called “The Stray Dragon.”

Helen told us that she had been to the beach on Sunday as it was a sunny day. The tide was out and everyone enjoyed jumping about in their wellies. She also told the children that she has been busy during the week making egg decorations for an Easter tree in her house. She showed us two ENORMOUS eggs which she painted gold and silver. She said that the insides of the eggs were sucked out! She attached string to the eggs so that they can hang from the branches which she put in a container in her living room. It will look beautiful when it is finished.


She showed us an image and asked what we thought it was.


The children had some very creative thoughts and suggestions:

Darragh said it looked like a huge dog toy.

Ryan thought it was a waterslide.

Sophie suggested that it was a “pippy” thing for water.

Sarah got the right answer! She said it looked like a rubber bath mat.

Helen told us that it was the underside of the bath mat, where you see the suction circles. She is involved in lots of projects, and one of them is a “boat” into which you can climb and rock backwards and forwards. Bells ring when the boat is in motion. It sounds intriguing and I want to have a go in it!


  • Attach the portraits (made last week) to 4 of the faces of each cuboid.
  • Each child/pair of children will make a map showing their journey to school. Two maps will be attached to the bottom face of each cuboid. TIME PERMITTING.


                                                                          This is Helen’s map.

  • In the Lunch hall or in an outdoors space, each pair of children will practise making a circle using a pen and string – (in preparation for Monday’s willow planting session). The children will write their thoughts about First Confession/faith inside each circle. TIME PERMITTING.
  • Helen showed us some photographs of a similar activity which she did with a class of 30 girls in a school in Dublin.


Helen also showed us images of a range of willow domes…one looked like an igloo with wood blocks for seats inside it (my favourite).




When the leaves come out on the willow dome it looks more like a den. Everyone loved the idea of planting the willow, taking care of it, and watching it grow to maturity. Helen said the boys and girls would be like Guardians.

Helen showed us the willow branches which she is bringing to school next Monday (10/4/17) on the bus from Goatstown. Her Uncle Tom and Aunt Iseult gave her the cuttings. Thank you to both of them.




                                            We could see shoots and little leaves opening up.

Helen also showed this image. We liked the star pattern which the 5 bodies made. She told us that children lay in the soil and other children traced around them. Then the outline was filled in with pebbles and other materials. They look like members of the Northern Ireland football team.



Then Helen showed us how she had attached her laminates to a cube. She stuck black paper to the two long sides and wrapped them over the top and bottom of the frame. We took a simpler approach by using sellotape!


Tracy and the teacher facilitated the attachment of the portraits to the cuboids and then it was BREAKTIME. Where does time go? TEMPUS FUGIT indeed!!!

The cuboids looked really good! The sunlight shining through was quite reminiscent of the stained glass windows which we saw in St. Michael the Archangel Church. (next door)








After BREAK we went to the Lunch Hall and pairs of children made a good attempt to draw a circle. on a very long roll of paper, using a pen and string. This was a tricky task for the boys and girls. Helen had drawn a picture to illustrate how to do this.



  • Keeping the string taut, and in the same middle position was very difficult.
  • How do you draw when someone is in the way?
  • How does the string holder manoeuvre around so that the pen holder can have access?
  • Can the circle end exactly where it began?



                                 Well look at what we did!

                  Eimear and Stephen worked as partners.

The children managed quite well, considering this was their first attempt, and the paper had a “sort of shiny” finish, which was a little slippery.



 Circles of different sizes were produced.

At the end of the activity, one of our P3 teachers arrived (Mrs Campbell) with her daughter and new baby boy. This caused a lot of excitement amongst the children!


At the end of this activity I asked the children to think of why the circles ended up being different sizes. Stephen said, “It’s because the string was different lengths.”  

Good thinking young man!

Back in the classroom, we had a “thought sharing“session about how the children felt about the circle making activity.


The representatives from each table came up to tell Helen how they found the activity.

Carl: It was a wee bit hard.

Darragh and his partner Laoise: It was easy.

Olivia and Conal: It was fun and “medium.”

Sarah and Sophie: It was super easy.

Ciaran and Tia: It was medium to easy.


  • The teacher started off by congratulating the children on good concentration and listening.
  • The boys and girls learned a new skill – making a circle using string and a pen.
  • They learned that keeping the string taut produces a better circle.
  • Sometimes things are difficult to do. but you just keep on going because practice makes perfect!

LUNCH TIME and time to get organised. We said, “See you soon,” to Helen, and thanked Tracy for her visit. 

We are all looking forward to seeing Helen again on Monday morning (in reality), with her bundle of willow cuttings.


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everal weeks have passed since Session #6 –  mid term break, amongst other things, came along, so today we begin again.

The session began with a blimp. We could hear Helen pottering about, but we could see nothing. She could see us, but couldn’t hear anything! After logging off and on several times, everything seemed to resolve itself, but precious activity time was lost.

The children wanted to tell Helen their news as they hadn’t “seen” her since the “real” visit.

Caitlinn showed Helen her bruised fingers.

Darragh brought in his Mc Donald’s Lego Batman cup which once contained fruit juice.

Cliodhna showed her panda ear ring.

Charlie had his squeaky beaver (which he got at Beaver’s.) He can keep it for a week and will show his friends photographs of the interesting places and things he has done with his beaver companion.

Kella showed Helen her Disney Moana book.

Sophie had a watch which her Aunt sent her from America. She gets gifts quite frequently, including perfume and necklaces!

Helen said that she has been to America twice. She recommended New York.

We talked about Storm Doris and Helen told us that a big tree had been blown down by the powerful wind in Goatstown.

Then Mrs Harriott showed Helen the crystals which had formed on the glass ………

Helen had a visitor to introduce to the class. Her son Reuben was off school for mid-term break. He was going to try the activities with us in his house. He is six, so he is the same age as some of the children in our class. He has lost some teeth just like our boys and girls!


                                                                HELLO REUBEN!


We received a parcel from Helen on Thursday, and when we opened it, we found some wooden garden sticks, sticky green tape, and  a mystery object with holes in it.                  

                                                                        ANOTHER MYSTERY PARCEL.

Now what a very strange coincidence……………….. This is the newspaper in which Helen wrapped the contents of the parcel:                                                                     


The date at the top of the page is December 15, 2010 – the year in which nine of our boys and girls were born! We thought that was COOL!


Some children told Helen what they thought the mystery object was:

Oisin – A cat’s bed.

Tia – Half of a disco ball.

Eimear – A stool.

Cliodhna – A fryer for frying food.

Charlie – A container for eggs.

Caitlinn – The top of a mushroom.

Ryan – A magician’s tool for making things disappear. Then he added, the bottom/hull of a boat.

Darragh – The top of a dome.

However, Aoife was very intuitive! – She said she thought it was a flower pot.

It was in fact the lining of a hanging flower basket in which Helen had cut out twelve holes.

Helen said that the holes in the liner were big enough for the insulating pipes to fit through, so we tried it out. Her calculation was perfect.



                                                                   Charlie demonstrating.

Helen explained what our first activity would be and then it was BREAKTIME.

Helen had read the children’s last blog and realised that they had really enjoyed making the dome construction. However, it had not been stable enough to stand upright without the support of attaching it to a washing line (which hangs across the classroom.) She thought of a way to make the dome more independently stable, and this was to be our first activity of the session.


             HOLD ON HELEN………………………..Furniture removals!!!! – My favourite!




  • 6 chairs
  • 12 x 2m insulating pipes
  • green dome/flower basket liner
  • Velcro straps
  • Lots of energy

After break we (I) moved all the furniture to the sides of the classroom, and arranged six chairs in a circle.


The children were given lengths of piping which they had to attach to each chair (2 to each chair).


TEAMWORK: Some children attached the pipes, while others got the Velcro strips ready.


                                The dome was placed on the floor in the middle of the chairs.


                                           Ronan made sure the green dome was centred.

                            Each length of piping was pushed into the hole in the green dome.


                                     Laoise was concerned about the stability of the structure.

       The chair circle had to be made smaller in order to enable the green dome to go higher.



Then the remaining piping was woven through the vertical pipes to help make it more stable. Velcro straps were used to strengthen these.


                              Cliodhna carefully making her way inside the structure.


                                     Nine children could fit inside the construction.


                     Another group of children took up residence inside the structure.



Even though the green dome at the top was tilted, the structure maintained its strength.

PLENARY: The green dome and the woven piping, with the Velcro, definitely added to the strength of the structure.


As time was limited, we decided to leave the structure in the middle of the room and continue with our next activity.



  • 14 garden sticks(per cube)
  • green garden tape
  • scissors
  • patience

This entailed the children working in groups of 4 to construct 2 squares each.

Helen sent lovely drawings to illustrate what the children had to do. I printed these and showed them to the children as Helen was not able to upload them onto the interactive whiteboard.



          Happy with their work: Tia, Kella, Aoife and Oisin.


                                    Everyone is pleased with their squares.


                                                         Aoife and Kella


Laoise has started well. “Now where is my partner?”                   Carl and Ronan.


Look at the concentration on Stephen’s face.           Sarah and Sophie always love to

                                                                                               work together.


Some children worked at tables – Eimear, Cliodhna and Caitlinn, while others were happy to hold the sticks for their partner – Conal and Stephen.

                Conal, Ryan and Stephen.


                    Helen and Reuben worked away and shared what they had done.


                        Then more garden sticks were attached to the squares to form cubes.


To make the cube more rigid, Helen told the children to make a cross with two sticks and attach it to the top of the cube.


Two cubes in total were made by the children, and unfortunately it was time for Lunch.


Helen told the children what they would do next with the cubes……………..It sounded very interesting and exciting!

PLENARY 2: The children said that they found it difficult at the beginning to attach the initial sticks together with the tape, but Helen gave them a tip to help with this. Wrap the tape around one stick first and then put the other stick on top and wind the tape tightly around both sticks.  


Another response was: “This is like Maths.” An excellent example of connected learning!





                                                            Congratulations Helen!

Here she is talking to a group of people at the Chester Beatty building, near Dublin Castle. A beautiful batik which she helped some ladies to make, is on display there.





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Friday 20th. January, 2017.


After yesterday’s Interim meeting at the Lough Neagh Discovery Centre, I was enthused with curiosity to see the children’s reaction to meeting Helen in person.

What a day to come to St John the Baptist!………… We had visiting children from 2 other primary schools, two ladies from Cancer Focus NI were coming to talk to the children about making healthy food choices……….and then Helen appeared in the middle of all this bustle.

Most of the boys and girls and girls greeted her with, “Good morning Helen, and welcome to our school,” but I also noticed several children with eyes wide open, looking at her in disbelief: THIS REALLY WAS HELEN! Everyone was delighted to see her.

Helen mentioned that the classroom seemed bigger when she saw it from her studio!

She got familiar with names and chatted to the children. She paid them a HUGE compliment. She told them that when she got off the train she used the information that they had included in their maps to help her find her way to the school. She remembered them mentioning a pylon, and when she came across a whole forest of them she knew that she was close to the school building!

Stretching and Helen’s signature yoga moves followed.

ACTIVITY # 1: In our last virtual session before Christmas, we didn’t have time to make our third construction with the chairs and insulation pipes. What better way to start our “real” session, than to create the domed structure together with Helen?



We pushed the tables to the sides of the room and made a circle of chairs. The children attached the insulation tubes to the chairs with Velcro.


                           Just look at the concentration on Sophie and Laoise’s faces!


             Then more Velcro was used to connect the two pipes together from each chair.


                                                             BUSY, BUSY, BUSY.


                                                      BUSY, BUSY, BUSY, BUSY! 


                                                 HOLD ON TO THOSE TUBES!



                                                  TIME TO SOLVE A PROBLEM!


We took down several of the numbers from the number line, attached a piece of velcro and connected the top point of the dome to it……a Eureka moment!

Then, how could the structure be made stronger? Some remaining pipes were woven through the vertical tubes.


                                     What about covering the dome with fabric?


The children decided to go inside the structure to see what it was like and then………………



                                           Patsy the caretaker went inside too!




Helen asked the children to tell her what they thought of the structure, where could we be?Eimear – We’re in “I’m a Celebrity.”                       Conal – We’re in a hut.

Ryan – This is like a base.                                           Ciaran – We’re inside a pot.

Aoife – It’s like an igloo.                                              Oisin – It’s a flying saucer, an alien ship.

Laoise – a stable.

Other suggestions: a cottage, a caravan, the dome/lid of a milkshake plastic container, a snack box. 

Helen said it was like a yurt  (that’s another good word for our VCOP wall). That is a nomad’s travelling tent used in the desert, and it is covered with animal skins.

Helen asked the children what materials they would use to make a den. Ronan suggested sticks and leaves. Caitlinn said that blankets hanging over a table would be good for a den inside your house.

                                                        TIDY UP and BREAK:

                 Who needs an I phone? Who knew that insulating tubes were so versatile?


Everyone had a chance to speak softly into the tube. The person at the other end could hear what was said!



                                                            TALKING AND LISTENING


                                                    This activity was great fun.


             Everyone enjoyed talking (whispering) and listening to eachother.


Now the boys and girls were ready for a new challenge.

They got into 3 groups and had to decide what type of structure/den they wanted to make together.

MATERIALS available:

  •  I table turned upside down
  • chairs
  • tubing and Velcro strips
  • fabric and pegs
  • polystyrene rectangle with holes in it

After a lengthy discussion they jotted down some ideas and sketched what they wanted to create.

  • Group 1 : They couldn’t make up their minds between the Titanic, Samson and Goliath and a space rocket.
  • Group 2: the Eiffel Tower, an evergreen tree.
  • Group 3: a den in the jungle





Planning over, everyone started constructing.

Mrs Morgan popped in for a visit, and true to form, she was amazed at how well the children were working together, and sharing their ideas and creativity.


                                                          All hands on deck!

                                                                                                   More tweeking needed?

                                                            Let’s just start again and make something else.

When construction time was finished, a spokesperson from each group was invited to tell the whole class about his/her group’s structure.

PLENARY 1, 2, and 3:



Oisin said that he liked the blue fabric that his group used to cover the structure, and that it had changed a lot of times. He said that the group figured it out together and found solutions to their problems.


Caitlinn said her group had made a den in the jungle. They also changed things a lot, and they needed lots of Velcro to make the structure stand up. She said they enjoyed working together and that they had fun working together.


  Cloidhna said that her group were space explorers. They had made a rocket house, with a steering wheel to help them get around. Inside it had a pretend kitchen, a bathroom to go to the toilet, a dormitory that was “ginormous,” with bunk beds. I said that it sounded like Dr. Who’s Tardis.

How was it to work in a group? It was fun and easy, but making the structure was “a wee bit hard.”

Kella said that her group changed their minds somewhere during the construction process and abandoned the Eiffel Tower and evergreen tree ideas, deciding instead to create the stable in Bethlehem. Sophie and Tia were good at finding solutions when things were “going a bit wrong.” There were differences of opinions in this group, but they came to a resolution in the end.

The LUNCH TIME bell brought the session to a close and Helen asked the boys and girls to tell her what they wanted to do in the next virtual session. Unanimously they said, “Construction!”

They said “Goodbye” to Helen, and went to the lunch and dinner halls enthusing about what they had done. 

Today they had so many fun learning experiences:. Isn’t this a wonderful way to spend a Friday morning.

Thanks Helen!






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Session #5: FURNITURE REMOVAL DAY and other stuff.

Friday 9th. December 2016.    –   THE LAST SESSION IN 2016.

Helen asked the children if they had any news to tell her. Darragh had been on a merry-go-round. Charlie had been to an ice hockey match. Tia told her about our Advent Promise Tree.

We talked about the movements in the dancing we had seen in the videos of Swan Lake and the Beach Birds, and how the dancers mimic real birds.

Show and Tell: Oisin showed Helen his scorpion dog with armour and Helen showed us a cube which had a smaller cube inside it. She asked the children to guess what it was made from.

Carl suggested plastic and straws.

Ryan – sticks

Darragh – 3D maker. (This initiated a conversation about the 3D maker. Tia said she made a Christmas tree topper with it. Oisin said he made a lighthouse with it and Sophie said she had made a Christmas ornament with it. Helen said she wanted one!)

Eimear – pasta

Stephen – spaghetti

ANSWER: black wire with a gold base.

WALT: To explore our construction ability by building small scale constructions in 3D as individuals and classroom size constructions as a group.

Helen asked the children about last week’s session, what they liked best of all, and what they found challenging. She asked them what else they might like to construct.

WORKING ON YOUR OWN – THE CHALLENGE: Use a lump of blu tac and several lengths of dry spaghetti to construct a 2D or 3D piece.

We had a chat about the properties of spaghetti. We talked about dry and cooked spaghetti and how different both are. Dry spaghetti has to be handled with care when it is used as a construction material.

Helen had sent some images of constructions which she had made earlier. I printed these out and passed them around for the children to get some inspiration. Another new word emerged as the boys and girls got to work. – BRITTLE – They found that the spaghetti easily snapped.






A lot of patience was needed as the children tried to keep the spaghetti together for more intricate constructions. This was a good activity as it catered for all abilities, and some less able children felt very pleased with the constructions they had produced.

When this activity was completed it was tidy up and break time, followed shortly afterwards by “let’s move the furniture time.”

Helen had sent a parcel to school. It contained Velcro strips and insulating pipes!


GROUP WORK: Each child received 3 short lengths of Velcro and they had an opportunity to “get to know it.” They put the strips around their arms. I gave them a length of insulation pipe and asked them to make shapes and experiment with it.










Aoife made a tennis racquet.

Stephen made a hot air balloon.

Tia made a candle flame.

Sophie said she saw the piping wrapped around scaffolding and it protects people when they are walking past it.

We also discovered that it is used to insulate pipes in houses. (That’s another good word.)


           Helen posted super images of what the finished piece should look like.


                                    Then it was up to us………and look at the results!!

The chairs were pushed to the sides of the room in preparation for the first construction.

CONSTRUCTION #1: Each child had to take one end of pipe and attach it to the leg of a table by wrapping the Velcro around the pipe and the table leg. This was repeated until all the tables are connected with little archways.

The children were delighted with this and enjoyed moving under the archways.










Then the tables were pushed to the sides of the room and ten chairs were brought into the middle – two lines of five chairs facing away from each other. 

CONSTRUCTION #2: Each child had to attach one end of their piping to the chair and the other end to the chair opposite, creating a tunnel of arches.

What a glorious construction. The children sang and travelled through the arches having great fun. It was a beautiful sight, like an archway in a garden.  
















CONSTRUCTION #3: Using the same 10 chairs, create a circle and attach one piece of piping to the chair. The other end of the piping has to be connected together in the centre creating a dome shape.   Unfortunately the lunch bell rang and curtailed this activity, but we will definitely return to it at a date in the very near future!

Thank you Helen for your wonderful ideas, support and friendship.

Thank you for the opportunity to remove so much furniture.

Happy Christmas to everyone in VT Land.

Nollaig Shona Duit.

Feliz Navidad.

God Jul.

Joyeux Noel.

See you (really) in the New Year!

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Friday 2 December, 2016.

Show and Tell Session: Sarah brought in a butterfly to show Helen.


I showed my musical box from China and Helen showed us her lovely music moving hands.


WALT: Explore our construction ability by building bridges linking our community maps together.

Helen liked last week’s group work so much that she thought the children could put together the maps with bridges and create a city.

We had a chat about cities. They are big. Lots of people live in them. They have all sorts of buildings, shops, offices, a Town/City Hall, skyscrapers, streets, houses, small roads, big roads, churches. Belfast is a city. Dublin is a city. London, New York, Paris are cities. 

We talked about bridges. People walk over bridges. Cars go over bridges. Trains and lorries go over bridges.

Why do we need bridges? To connect places and people. They go over rivers, streams, roads.

What makes a good bridge? It has to be strong.

What are bridges made of? Metal, wood, rope. We have a famous rope bridge in Northern Ireland called the Carrick-a -rede Rope Bridge.

Stephen said there is a famous bridge in San Francisco called The Golden Gate Bridge.



Helen showed us some images of different types of bridges around the world:

Sophie said that one of them was “an iconic tower bridge.” WOW.

We saw a wooden river bridge in Sri Lanka which connects houses. Everyone thought the people walking over it were very clever to cross without a barrier to hold onto. 

A bridge in Pakistan was made from tree vines which are very strong. We said that Tarzan uses vines in his films.

We saw photos of Brooklyn Bridge in New York.

We saw viaduct bridges in Ireland that dated back to Roman times.

We saw Skybridge, which is in the jungle in South America. Sophie liked the bushes and mountains around it. Tia, Sarah and Ryan liked the “massive forest of trees.”

We saw another bridge which is the longest bridge in the world and connects islands around China.

I said that in the Summer I had walked over a very exciting bridge in Kew Gardens, which is near London. It is built high above the tree line so that you feel as if you are walking on top of the trees.

Helen’s last bridge image showed a very unique bridge in London which can be rolled out over a canal and used as a footbridge. When a barge wants to pass by, it can be rolled back again.

Helen asked if the children thought some of the bridges were safe.

Oisin said that the bridge in the forest was safe to cross as it was made of strong wooden planks and it was not very high.

Olivia thought one bridge was dangerous because it did not have a barrier at the side and you could fall off into the fast river.

Eimear thought it could easily break.

Cloidhna and Ronan thought one of the bridges looked slippery so it was dangerous to walk on.

Helen made some bridges and let us see what they looked like. 





After all this discussion, the children got into groups and they had to work out what sort of bridge they wanted to make, and what materials they would need.

We talked about the importance of TENSION…that’s another word to remember.

Each bridge had to connect each table, not the maps themselves, and it had to be 2 foot long.

MATERIALS: I gave the boys and girls a selection of materials:

  • cardboard / paper 
  • sellotape / masking tape/ double-sided tape
  • string /wool
  • pipe cleaners / cotton buds
  • lollipop sticks / straws
  • corrugated paper / coloured sticky shapes
  • glue

The bridge making process required THINKING, DESIGNING, EXPERIMENTING and BUILDING.

It also necessitated me having to move a lot of furniture! But it was well worth the effort.










Another fabulous session came to an end.

Mrs. Morgan, the Acting Principal wanted to see the bridges connecting the “cities” before they had to be dismantled at lunchtime. She was gobsmacked when she saw them and said what a wonderful opportunity for creativity, improving thinking skills and general connected learning! 










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Friday 25 November, 2016.

CONTEXT: National Book Day – Come to school dressed as a character from a book!  

We had Harry Potter, several Disney princesses, Pokemon, Wonder Woman..

WALT: Explore our immediate environment within a community context.

Show and Tell session: During the week Oisin had said that he wanted to bring in an object which he said Helen would love.

Unfortunately he forgot to bring it, but he planned to bring in a BUG!

Helen’s Show and Tell – She showed the children a mask and asked them what they thought it was.


Ryan thought it was a monster. Other suggestions included a bear and the Gruffalo.

It was in fact a gargoyle. Helen had made it from paper and tar 30 years ago.(She must have made it when she was a toddler!) She had used watered down bitumen which made it waterproof.

Stephen said that he had seen one in “The Hunchback of Notredam.”

Then Helen showed us an aerial view of our school. We talked about maps and what you would see on a map: buildings, houses, roads, gardens.

Last week’s homework challenge: Each child had drawn a building in their VT Notebook and were called up to the camera to show it to Helen. A very bizarre thing that emerged was that many of them chose to draw St Michael’s Church, which is just beside the school. They also drew The BP petrol station, The Kennedy Shopping Centre, Ballyowen Health Centre, and La Casa Coffee shop with its lovely mosaic murals.

Charlie drew a picture of David’s (a corner shop). He wrote: “David’s is in Ladybrook. The building is made of metal and glass. It has a flat roof. They sell sweets and buns and muffins.”

GROUP ACTIVITY – Helen’s plan was for the children to get into 4 or 5 groups and put their sketches together, or, using the school as a central point, draw the buildings on larger pages in order to create a town or city. They had to draw and write about things that are needed for a town, or community, or city. These drawings would be the beginning of drafting up ideas of a 3D city which we could perhaps make in a few weeks’ time. That was the plan.

The children were given an A3 size page. They had to draw the school in the middle of the page and then, after a group discussion, make a list of buildings and amenities which are close by and draw them around the school.  That was the plan. What actually happened?



Each group had 4 tables to work at. Some children asked for more paper, and then more paper was required. The plans got bigger and bigger until the maps covered the entire block of 4 tables.

The children began with our school. Then came:

  • the terraced houses opposite
  • the road outside the school
  • the church
  • the traffic lights
  • the petrol station
  • the Health Centre
  • the streets nearby and the houses within
  • the bank
  • the Leisure Centre
  • St Genevieve’s Girls’ High School
  • St Michael’s Nursery School

They could have gone on forever! Time dictated that they had to stop, but the results were amazing. These 6 and 7 year olds had been completely absorbed in the activity and their enthusiasm was palpable……….map mania was clearly visible!





Helen had planned a chalk related activity for break. However the costumes prevented this from happening. 

I put some of the maps on the display boards outside our classroom and got immediate praise from staff passing by!!!

At the end of the session we said Goodbye to Helen and thanked her for the opportunity of having such a great experience!


During the week Helen had asked us to watch some dance videos and get responses from the boys and girls. We are hoping to incorporate dance movement in future sessions.

Swan Lake – graceful and sad.

Beach Birds for Camera – jumping, turning, running sideways, kicking legs and feet, fast, mad, different, crazy, unusual.

Vollmond (Luna Llena)..Una pieza de pina Bausch – rocks, water, arms splashing, mad kicking, arms swirling, rolling, spinning.

We also looked at Lilies of the Valley -Spanish music, sticks, rocks, boating.






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