On this page we compile information on activities that go on in the classrooms. The material presented here will gradually build up. Check again from time to time.
Primary Colours Art Workshop
As a follow up to the visit at Hyde Bridge Gallery where the children saw the Primary Colours Exhibition two art workshops took place in Deirdre’s classroom. Michael has written an account for us:
On Tuesday, an artist came to our school. His name was Wayne O Conor. Wayne told us that he designs video game characters. He told us about himself and how he decided to become an artist. He always loved drawing since he was a child. He used to draw on the walls when he was small.
We made a book about ourselves. Wayne gave us tips about drawing. We even did blind drawing where we drew with our eyes closed. It was fun.
I drew a girl character from a book that I am writing. I also drew Knocknarea and a picture of my family. I am looking forward to meeting Wayne again. He is coming back to do another workshop with us.
In SSP we have multi-grade classes, that means children of different age groups are together in one classroom. It also means that the children work very much at their own pace and when it comes to the traditional subjects it is rare that large groups of children do the same thing at the same time. In educational theory such a learning environment is called “differentiated”, but it is a very simple idea: each child does what they are capable of at a given time. Hence, when you come into a classroom you may see different activities going on all at the same time.
Duplo, Lego and K-nex
We have a large amount of Duplo, Lego and K-nex in the school and the children get opportunities to follow instructions to create things as well as creating their own pieces using their imagination. The benefits of these toys to children’s education and development have been documented for a long time. We are proud to say that nearly every child at SSP will at some stage learn to follow a technical drawing and a manual in building a model car, ship, spaceship, house etc.
But most of all, they have fun while learning valuable skills.
Carmel’s class started to use lollipop sticks for arts/crafts. They made little bowls from the sticks in a simple format. But simple or not, the results were so nice that the older children tried it also.
On two occasions we had Mo Robertson with us. She worked with Deirdre’s class showing them the decoupage-technique. This is a decorating style that can be used to up-cycle older items and to give them a new look. The children thoroughly enjoyed the activity and the results.
This is not really an activity in a classroom – it is more that the classroom is too small for it and therefore we simply extended the classroom by using the yard. So, what is it about?
We tried, and succeeded in constructing circles by using a string and chalk as our only tools. Once we got the idea it was actually quite easy and we played around with the figures.
And as far as concepts are concerned, we learned about radius, diameter, circumference, and that there is a strict connection between the values of those three whereby the radius is always half of the diameter, and the circumference is always 3 times as long as the diameter; actually the exact ratio between diameter and circumference is expressed by the number pi, an endless decimal number. The first few digits are 3.1415926535 – and whoever likes to know more about the number pi, or simply likes playing with numbers may have a look here.
As part of the maths program Carmel went back doing pictures from 2-D shapes, this time with the younger children.
Deirdre’s class has recently learned about electric circuits. The most exciting part in it was obviously the hands-on stuff. Will it work or not …
Does anyone of the adults still remember Patti Smith?
here I go and I don’t know why,
I spin so ceaselessly,
’til I lose my sense of gravity…
The results are now exhibited in Carmel’s classroom.
Babies and Bathwater
It started as a scientific exploration about capacities, litres, containers, bottles and their volume, but science is anything but dry matter …
… so it developed into an array of other areas, balance, grace, height, weight …
… until eventually the babies called for attention, which was duly granted …
,,, and after having them all cleaned they were dressed and fed …
… while the bathwater remained for more scientific exploration.
There are many nice things that you can make with and from play dough. It is a fabulous material to shape, easy to handle and even colourful.
How do you learn about magnetism? Read a book is one way … read a book and try it practically is probably a better way.
Recently Carmel realised that some of the children in her class might benefit from activities that include developing fine motor skills. One of the things that she offered was ornamental names. This is a very simple idea whereby the children stick small cuttings of glimmering paper into the shapes of the letters of their names. And like most of the activities in the classroom, not only the few children who triggered the idea in Carmel wanted to do it but all children got into ornamenting their names. Some of the results:
Carmel’s class brought some beautiful autumn leaves from their recent trip to the chestnut tree with them back to school for leave rubbings. The technique is simple, but the results are truly nice:
The school garden has a large supply of rhubarb so the children in Deirdre’s class decided to make rhubarb crumble. They cleaned and chopped the rhubarb and made crumble to go on top. The result was delicious with custard!
For those of you who like to try making it at home … Anna has put the recipe together and you can find it here.
The Witches (Novel)
The children in Deirdre’s class recently finished reading the Roald Dahl novel, ‘The Witches’. They enjoyed the story and have come to appreciate the talents of Roald Dahl as an author. Many of the children are reading other books by this author now. We even got some of his books during World Book Day. Now that many of the children have joined the library, they have access to a huge range of books by a variety of authors. They have also learned how to write a book review.
There is in fact a large selection of books by Roald Dahl available in SSP. We frequently use his material in class because we find that children in general like the sometimes quirky humor in his books. For those of you who want to follow up on The Witches, you may check on the Roald Dahl webpage directly by using this link.
Snakes and Ladders
All of the children have been learning to play Snakes and Ladders. Board games teach us about following rules, turn taking, winning and losing and they are fun to play. Carmel’s class decided to make their own Snakes and Ladders games. Some of the younger children got help from the children in Deirdre’s room during Buddy time.
Saint Brigid’s Crosses
Tom brought in some rushes from his field and we made some Saint Brigid’s Crosses. Her Feast Day was on the 1st of February. They were quite hard to make but we managed it as you can see. We learned about Saint Brigid’s Cloak too.
Anna’s mum, Jenny, kindly brought in her machine for making hot chocolate and treated us all to delicious hot chocolate with marshmallows. Thanks Jenny!
We are fortunate to have a wide range of reading material in the school. Classrooms have well stocked libraries and we also have a school library with many more titles to choose from. The children love to relax and read. Developing a love of reading in the children is something teachers strive to do, with much success as can be seen from the photographs.
Recently, the older children were studying the work of Pablo Picasso. The children’s paintings have been inspired by the artist. In particular, the children looked at ‘cubism’ which was practised by other artists also. The paintings contain cubes and other shapes and are often colourful. The shapes and colours are very effective.
Playing board games is not just an opportunity for the children to have fun. It is an opportunity for the children to learn about following rules, taking turns, winning and losing and of course socialising. In Sligo School Project, the children are taught to play various games and in the process, they develop valuable social skills. Very often, the older children teach the younger children how to play.
This is part of the ‘Buddy’ system that has been operating in the school for many years now. Buddies often play board games together but they also read together or complete art projects among other activities. Because the younger children spend time with the older children, they develop and very healthy relationship with each other. This ensures that we have an atmosphere of mutual respect in the school.
The children are writing narratives for the Reading Day. Many of the children are typing their finished stories and in doing so, they are learning valuable computer skills. Many are adding pictures from the internet to make their presentations even more interesting. We will put the stories on the website when they are finished. We hope that you are able to come along on the day to hear the children read their stories as they are very proud of them.
Siobhan has been working with the older children on the topic of Ancient Egypt. Siobhan has a large amount of resources on this topic. In particular the children have been learning about a child pharaoh named Tutankhamun. His tomb was discovered in the early 20th century and it had never been looted by thieves which meant people could see the vast treasures that were buried with pharaohs at the time. There is an interesting page accessible online with biographical information on Tutankhamun. If you like, see here.
The children recently experimented with pottery clay and as can be seen from the photographs, they thoroughly enjoyed the process. They made pinch pots, coil pots, heads and many very creative pieces. Once the clay dried, the children painted the sculptures.
The children recently experimented with a variety of materials in science to determine which substances would dissolve in warm water. They learned about dilute solutions and concentrated solutions. In most cases the children predicted correctly which substances would dissolve and which ones were insoluble.
The children enjoy cooking and recently made homemade vegetable soup. They had learned about nutrition in science and learned about the importance of eating plenty of vegetables as they are full of vitamins and minerals. For some children, it was the first time that they peeled and chopped vegetables. Everyone enjoyed the soup and we even had some bread rolls too!
This is a popular interactive game with many of the children. They can practice addition and multiplication tables in a fun way. We use the interactive whiteboard for it. Children and adults can have a lot of fun trying to beat their own scores as well as competing with each other. If you want to try it at home, follow this link.
The children were leaning about weather and climate in Geography and they made their own rain gauge using a plastic bottle, some stones, tape, a ruler and a marker to draw the scale. Quite a lot of rain fell the following days but unfortunately, the strong wind knocked over the rain gauge spilling the water which had collected in the bottle. They are considering putting the bottle in a hole of some sort to make it more secure next time.
The older children took part in an online maths programme called ‘Mangahigh’ which they enjoyed. Various activities were presented to the children and they progressed at their own pace. The challenges became progressively harder.
We also use other online-sources like nrich.maths – check it out if you like. It is great fun to solve the various problems on the page, you can pick the level of difficulty yourself.
In science the children discovered that oil and water do not mix. As a follow on lesson, they did ‘Marbling’ in art class. This involves mixing some oil paints with white spirits and dropping some of the mixture into a basin of water. Since the oil won’t mix with the water, the colours floated on the surface. The children then dropped a page onto the surface of the water and the paint was transferred to the paper with amazing results. The effect looks like marble, hence the name for this activity. The colourful paper can be used for decoration or even for wrapping paper.