Ms. Furlong

Weekly Reminders:

  • Seachtain na Gaeilge 2021 runs from March 1st to March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day. Check out Cúla4 ar scoil from Monday to Thursday at 10 am and 4pm.  
  • RTE online has great resources which can be found on https://www.rte.ie/learn/home-school-hub/ There are loads of worksheets and activities online and video links to watch.
  • RTE Home School Hub is on each week day on RTE 1 from 10am to 12am and a breakdown of what will be on and when can be found on https://www.rte.ie/learn/home-school-hub/2021
  • After School Hub is on each week day at 3.20pm on RTE 2
  • ISL (Irish sign language) versions of Home School Hub will also be on RTÉ Junior on weekdays at 1pm and these will also be available on the RTÉ Player.
  • The 67th Texaco Children’s Art Competition, 2021 is currently running and the closing date for our next Competition is Wednesday, 24th March 2021. You will find more information at: https://www.texacochildrensart.com/
  • It is important for children to get some exercise and stay fit and healthy. On Facebook Donna Dunne Fitness is doing 2 Kids Fitness 10 Mins Get Up and Move live workouts at 9am and 12am every weekday. Try and log on and join in if you can.
  • Take a photo of something that makes you smile or someone smiling or get someone to take a photo of you smiling and and then posted your photo to CovidPhotos@bunscoilris.ie
  • Don’t forget to post all the wonderful work you are doing to your portfolio on ClassDojo so we can see it. We love to see your work. If you want to email me any of your work or with any questions or anything then please do at rfurlong@bunscoilris.ie 

Mother’s Day Art and Last day of Home Schooling, 12th March, 2021

Happy Friday everyone!! I can’t wait to see you all in school on Monday and it will be great to have everyone back in school after Lockdown 2021!! You can all take a deep breath and then relax!! Have a relaxing weekend and take time to relax and get ready for school. I also look forward to seeing you all on our Zoom assembly at 11 and I am excited to see all your “Smile” photographs.

I know the books are being quarantined and you have come to the end of your home schooling but it is Mother’s Day this Sunday and I thought you might like some art ideas to make something to give to your Mam or Granny or Aunt or whoever looks after you at home.

Here is a link to a video on YouTube for a lovely art idea:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LIP1EkcLNog

I really like this art because you have a card for Sunday and then a heart to hang up after Sunday too!!

Here is another quite detailed Mother’s day card video if someone wants to challenge themselves today: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HygvLgpgJAo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HygvLgpgJAo

The internet has so many great ideas but you can always create something yourself from your own imagination. I am sure that whatever you do the person you give the art to will love it so much. Have a great Mother’s Day and make sure you let those women you love know it today and always. Be kind to your Mam or Granny or whoever looks after you at home so they enjoy their special day too!!

If you didn’t get your art from yesterday you could spend some time today or over the weekend enjoying it and don’t forget to upload pictures of your work for us to see on ClassDojo.

I am also adding this Balla Ceist for Seachtain na Gaeilge and it is a Question wall as Gaeilge. There are lots of questions here as Gaeilge for you to learn and use in your written and spoken Irish. You could print it out and if not you can write out the questions or at least some of them and learn them a few at a time. Some questions you will know already and some you will learn. 

Lots of everyday questions such as:

  •  Conas atá tú? How are you?
  • Cén saghas Lae é? What type of day is it?
  • Cén rang ina bhfuil tú? What class are you in?
  • Conas a tháinig tú ar scoil? How did you come to school?

Before I leave this I want to remind you that there are lots of great ideas both here and on others so please have a look through and maybe do some activities over time. These are not just home schooling ideas but ideas for use whenever you want.

Last but not least I would like you to have a look at this beautiful image from Facebook because looking after ourselves and those around us is so important:

Here is a simple self care recipe and all the ingredients are simple. We can also be aware of our friends and peers when we go back to school and maybe give some of the above to others if we see them struggling!!

Whatever you do this weekend I hope you really enjoy it, have lots of fun, get outside and get some fresh air and prepare your things for coming back to school on Sunday night so you are not rushing Monday morning.

Stay safe everyone and I will see you all in school on Monday, Ms R. Furlong x

Hot Air Balloons, Thursday 11th March, 202

Happy Thursday everyone and we have finally reached your last day of Zooming with your class for this lockdown!! Well done to each and every one of you and your family for making it through and especially for those who have engaged so well with all the school work and Zooms and projects and art and anything else you have done since Christmas. It is important to remember, we are all individuals and come from different homes so all anyone has been expected to do was their best and that will not be the same as anyone else’s best and that is okay!! Be kind to those around you today and be kind to yourself too!!

So today, make sure you are online for your last class Zoom and upload your work for today.

The first thing I would like to remind everyone to do is to take a photograph for the “Smiles” project as we have very few in and this is a great opportunity to have your photos looked at by a photographer and to maybe have them in the newspaper. Make today the day for photograph taking and submit by this evening for tomorrow’s assembly.

Then I would like you to have a look at the following posters from My First Focail to link in with Seachtain na Gaeilge:

I just love the one’ “Ainmhithe San Fhiántas” which are animals in the wild. It is a lovely poster and you should write the Gaeilge and English for them.

And this one has some items used for gardening so again write out the Gaeilge and English versions. From the various posters uploaded this week and last week you should have a good word store to use in your written and spoken Gaeilge!!

When I hear some people talk about Gaeilge/Irish and how they don’t like it because it is hard to learn they should read this poem and realise just how difficult English can be as a language and most of us have mastered English!

If we can learn English and be a confident speaker in English then we can learn Irish too and be confident in that someday but you have to put in the effort and learning to do so!!

When you have finished these I would like you to try this art project:

You will need a paper plate so I hope most people will have one or some cardboard to improvise with. This will take some time so it will be an activity to carry through to Friday and even the weekend.

Both are from the amazing website: https://www.darrellwakelam.com/downloads

For anyone who enjoys art this is such a fabulous website with some amazing ideas for art!! All the instructions for the project are included in the posters so give it a try. If you haven’t a plate and would rather try something else then go to the website and pick a different idea to try.

Here is a link for a lovely video on how hot air balloons work to watch too:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABsVP41-EeY Enjoy!

Whatever you do today I hope you enjoy it and find the art relaxing. Don’t forget to try and use your cúpla focail as Gaeilge.

Stay safe, Ms R. Furlong

Happy Wednesday, 10th March, 2021

I know I have used this picture in the last few weeks but when I saw it on my laptop it made me smile and made me think about the Covid Photos idea for this week. Mary Browne, photographer and David Looby, journalist will return to our assembly again this Friday and they will look at all the lovely photos you will send in and some will be chosen to be printed in The Standard newspaper next week. All you have to do is take a photo of something that makes you smile, take a photo of something or someone smiling or have someone take a picture of you smiling!! And when I saw this image above it made me smile so I used it again. I can’t wait to see how creative you all are with your photographs!!

There are so many things that make me smile; my family, my dog, being around the children and staff at school, things I see around me in nature, the birds flying around with bits for their nests, beautiful butterflies landing nearby, other people smiling!

Thinking about smiling also reminds me of the well-known poem:

 

I love this poem. “Infectious Smiles” or “Smiling is Infectious” is a poem purported to be by the late, great Spike Milligan that promotes the positivity of smiling. Read through it and try to remember the message it tells as you go about your daily activities. I would rather this sort of epidemic right now so start your smile on its journey around the Earth.

Today is supposed to be quite windy and wet and while any day is a good day to get outside today mightn’t be the day for you so I thought I could bring some wildlife to you where you can learn the Irish names for some common animals.

When you have attended Zoom and uploaded your work for today I would like you to have a look at the following posters.

Remembering that it is Seachtain na Gaeilge I thought these would be good posters to share. If you build up your vocabulary a little at a time before long you will have a whole lot to use in your spoken and written Irish.

They come from My First Focail:

I would like you to print them or just write out the English and Irish words in the back of your copy and learn them! Then try and put the words into sentences orally or write them on a sheet and put them somewhere you can see so you can learn them. It will give you more confidence to use Irish if you have a store of words you know.

I would also like you to try this fun activity:

Just read the instructions and try it! Can you pick the cereal box up using your mouth only? I have tried this here this evening and couldn’t believe how difficult this is to do bit I will not be beaten!!! I am going to keep trying this and practicing until I get it!! Is anyone else up for the challenge?? Why not get the other people in your home to try this too and see who can go the lowest!!

The last thing I would like you to do today is to start to think about Mother’s Day and maybe you would like to do some art for your Mam or whoever it is that looks after you at home. We did a lovely activity for Valentine’s Day which would also be lovely for Mother’s Day.

This is quite a simple idea:

  • Get 2 sheets of paper.
  • Get some paint or food colouring or beetroot juice or anything that can stain paper.
  • Get two containers and make 2 shades of your colour, one light and one darker.
  • Water down the paint if you are using paint.
  • Get something to put the paint/dye onto the paper such as a roller or a piece of washing up sponge or a rag.
  • Leave to dry.
  • Cut a heart from one sheet and stick it on the second sheet, if one sheet is darker than the other it should be easy to see the heart shape.
  • Get some pieces of coloured paper such as in a magazine, some tin foil or whatever you have to stick onto the heart. We dipped some tissue paper in the left over paint and left it to dry and then tore pieces off to add to the heart. we also added a bit of glitter. 
  • Write a message for your Mum, Granny or other important woman in your life.

Our sheets ended up quite similar in colour but it looks lovely just the same.

Whatever you do today I hope you enjoy this Wednesday and it brings you lots of smiles which you can pass on.

Stay Safe, Ms R. Furlong

Enjoying the Outdoors, Tuesday 9th March, 2021

Happy Tuesday everyone and I hope the sun shines again today as yesterday brought a wonderful feeling with sunshine and birds singing and spring blossoming all around us. Yesterday also brought great news for our school as we are allowed to open and return to school next Monday and hopefully we will never have to do home schooling again!! It is time to fill our school with the sound of children like it should be. I was in school every day last week and it was lovely to hear the children from the junior school laughing and playing at break times. It will be even better to hear you all out on our yard next week playing and laughing and to see you running around and having fun with your peers.

I’m sure now that we have definite news about going back to school there will be lots of mixed emotions in many homes tonight. Just know that we are doing everything at school to get ready to bring everyone back to school safe and sound. We will do the best we can to keep our school Covid free and to keep everyone safe going forward. It is okay to feel a little nervous and once we get back and settle in hopefully any nerves we have will settle and we will enjoy our time together.

On that note I would like to post this poster:

https://www.pinterest.ie/pin/680747299909849250/

It is a lovely poster of Na Mothúcháin as Gaeilge but what I love best is the fact that it gives how the Irish word sounds too. So how are you feeling? Take some time out today and think about how you are feeling and share those thoughts with a peer, sibling or adult at home because it is important that we talk these feelings out to help us make sense of them. If this is difficult to see then click the link above for the original. 

When you have attended your Zoom and posted your work online I would like you to try some things today which incorporate both Gaeilge and nature.

In keeping with Seachtain na Gaeilge I would also like to post:

I posted a poem about Ceisteanna as Gaeilge last week but this is also a great poster from My First Focail and it lays out the questions in Irish and English for you. If you can’t print this out it is a great one to copy!! I have said it before but it cannot be stressed enough how important it is to be able to ask questions as well as answer them in any language. Questioning skills are so important to holding a conversation in English and Irish and any other language you learn as no one likes a one sided conversation!! SO write or print these out and start practicing them on the people at home or your peers.

Cleachtadh a dhéanann maistreacht.

This is an old Irish proverb which means practice makes perfect and the best way to improve your Irish is to practice it. Lots of people give up on Irish and say they are no good at it but you can’t get better at anything without practice!!

When you have done this I would like you to get outside and have a look at the beauty spring offers us.

Get outdoors and have a look at the trees in your environment and in the 5km around you. Can you recognise trees by looking at the buds and leaves around you? Use the poster above to help you identify the trees commonly found in Ireland. Can you find other trees that are not on the poster? What are they? Draw them and try and find out what they are called.

While you are looking at the trees around you have a look for the flowers above. Some you will see and know as there are quite common such as daffodils, bluebells and primroses! Others you may not readily recognise and you will have to look at the poster carefully to try and identify them in nature. If you find other flowers which are not on the poster you can add them yourself and try to find out what they are by asking someone at home or google them. Have you many flowers in your garden and what are they?? Both posters can be found on www.wildlifewatch.org.uk  

When you are out and about don’t forget to take some time, find somewhere you can sit and listen to the sounds of nature. What do you hear? Touch things in nature. How do they feel? Smell the smells of nature. What do you smell? Remember to leave nothing behind you when you are out in nature except a heart print.

Whatever you do today I want you to enjoy your day and remember to use your Cupla Focail as Gaeilge.

Stay safe, Ms R. Furlong

Happy International Women’s Day, Monday 8th March, 2021

Welcome to the last week of home schooling, ever hopefully, and what better way to begin this week but with a day celebrating all the amazing women in the world; today, yesterday and tomorrow! To all the women who have been home schooling their children while keeping their homes going and maybe working too; well done!! (I know there are lots of amazing Dads and men out there too who have been home schooling and this is not to put you all down, it is just to celebrate our women today!!) All around the world today women will be celebrated today and we are all asked to Choose to Challenge!

Every year International Women’s Day has a theme and here is the challenge for this year:

‘IWD 2021 campaign theme: #ChooseToChallenge

A challenged world is an alert world. Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day.

We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world.

From challenge comes change, so let’s all choose to challenge.’

https://www.internationalwomensday.com/Theme

But what does this mean? This means that we all, male and female, men and women, boys and girls of all ages should challenge society we live in and call for equality. Equality for males and females and for girls and boys; girls and women can and should be able to do all the boys and men do and we have had so many inspirational women in our past history who have led the way. If we look at politics we can see that there are far more men than women as women have long been seen as housewives and mother who have stayed at home and looked after their families.

Inequality has always existed in Ireland and most other countries around the world. It has changed over the years and women have more rights now than before. For example: there was a marriage ban in Ireland on those who worked in the civil service which meant that female teachers who got married had to give up their permanent jobs. Thankfully this was lifted the year I was born and gave some equality for women in teaching. I am grateful to be allowed to work while being married and why not? What is god for men is good for women.

So for all of us, will we stand up and choose to challenge for equality for girls and women? I hope so!

https://www.internationalwomensday.com/Videos has some great videos online to watch so today when you have attended your Zoom session and uploaded your school work why not take some time to look at some of the videos.

Another important aspect of International Women’s Day is to honour and appreciate the different achievements that women have accomplished around the world, including successes in society, economy, politics and culture.

The second thing I would like you to do today is to research some women who have had such accomplishments in history and find out some new facts about them. Then write a report on someone who inspires you for their achievements in the past!! Then I would like you to look around you today at your immediate family, extended family, neighbours and friends and choose a woman in your life who inspires you by their actions and achievements. Write a report on this person too explaining what they do in life and why they inspire you.

Have a look at this video and you will find some inspirational females that you will already know: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=usFpfoFYpzU&t=1s

And this is really good: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzhlp8T9s5c

International Women’s Day 2021 is also a time when we can remember those who still go unheard, females who have no voice and continue to be prevented from reaching their full potential as basic rights like health and education are still not recognised for some women around the world. The last thing I would like you to do is to research some such women and write a little about them. In what countries are females still treated like second class citizens to males? In what countries are boys chosen to go to school while girls stay at home uneducated? What can we do about this if anything? Can you use your education to help those females less fortunate?

While a lot of this may seem like issues for adults to deal with it is actually up to all of us to educate ourselves on what is happening and to be able to choose to challenge the happenings which do not allow equal opportunities for females and males alike.

Finally, I am including a link and the printable above is from this page:

http://www.momentsaday.com/international-womens-day-activities-free-printables/ This website has some lovely printable sheets to print or try and copy and colour to celebrate today. I love the one above as it shows gender equality among children but have a look at the others and you can always design your own to colour. I would love to see the work you do today so don’t forget to post on ClassDojo.

Whatever you do today enjoy International Women’s Day, be kind to the females around you and Choose to Challenge always.

Stay safe, Ms R. Furlong

Tomhais Cé atá Ann!, Friday 4th March, 2021

Happy Friday everyone, I look forward to seeing you all on our Zoom assembly at 11!! Second last week of online learning done and after today we only have one week left and then we get to go back to school!!  We can see the light at the end of the tunnel and almost touch the end now. Make the most of the rest of the time we have at home doing our online Zooms and learning through home schooling. You have all truly being amazing and I for one am really proud of all of the pupils of Bunscoil Rís and the staff. We have worked together to help us get through this lockdown and most of you don’t know quite how great you are!!

When you have attended assembly and uploaded your schoolwork you may want to have a look at the following poster:

This was on Facebook, shared by Le Cheile Online Learning and yes I know yesterday was World Book Day 2021 but the ideas above are great to do any day!! I really like this poster as there are so many great ideas on it!! Some are art ideas, some are a bit of maths while others are writing ideas. I love the Extreme Reading idea where you take a photo reading in the strangest place or position!! Maybe we will see some photos like this at our assembly as we did ask for photos of your favourite book or of you reading! I wonder what is the strangest place or position you can think of to read in?? There are 12 ideas above so you could try and do one a day and you would get a lot done before we go back to school!!

As it is Friday and we are heading into the weekend I thought I would share a game to try that would fill in some time for you and someone at home. The activity comes from https://snag.ie/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Tomhais-C%C3%A9-at%C3%A1-Ann.pdf which is the Seachtain Na Gaeilge le Energia website.

This is the link to the game Guess Who which we love to play in The Nest and you can now play it as Gaeilge as Tomhais Cé atá Ann!! This is the first time I have seen this game as Gaeilge and I will be printing it and laminating it to use in The Nest when we return to school. I am linking the pages below for you to have a look at. This is a great game in English to develop your questioning skills and it will help with the same in Irish. The sheets also have the instructions in English and Irish and what I love is the Foclóir Úsáideach or useful vocabulary. It gives lots of descriptive language in both languages to help you and these can be used going forward in you Irish writing so it is a win-win all round!!

I hope you will try and print this game out and play it as Gaeilge today or over the weekend and try and learn some of the Foclóir Úsáideach each day and you wouldn’t be long learning it all.

Below are the sheets for the game to have a look at and you can then get the PDF from the website to print out. You could make this game on card if you haven’t a printer but it would take some time. The website also has lots of other games as Gaeilge if you don’t like this game!!

I also just wanted to remind you also that today is the last day of STEPS Engineers Week 2021. A great way to celebrate this week and learn something new, especially from home if you haven’t access to much equipment, is to have a look at some of the recommended videos. The Mission Unstoppable episodes which are available to watch online are recommended and these include Episode S02 E09 · Extraction, Electricity, and Engineering! Actually there are episodes from lots of different science areas for those with an interest in science and engineering. If you are interested just type in Mission Unstoppable Episodes into Google and you will see all those available and then you can pick and choose what you want to watch.

Whatever you do today and over the weekend I hope you enjoy it and get to make some new memories of your time in lockdown. Take time to get out into the fresh air and hopefully the sun will shine on us. Take time to exercise and it will help you feel better. Take time to do something kind for yourself and others.

Stay safe!! Ms R. Furlong

World Book Day, 4th March, 2021

Happy Thursday everyone and happy World Book day 2021 to you all! We have an unusual World Book Day where some pupils are in school and others are learning from home. We would usually see the characters of books walk our school corridors today but instead hopefully we will see them grace our screens at Zoom sessions. I miss days like this at school where there is a real air of excitement, there usually is when children and staff are dressed up for some event or other. However, we can still read; it isn’t restricted! In fact it is encouraged even more while we are out of school and this time offers us a perfect opportunity to take a book, and find somewhere relaxing and take some time out for ourselves to read.

 This is something I strongly believe in and would argue this point with anyone!! You mightn’t enjoy reading, you might find yourself too busy to read, you might avoid reading at all costs but one day you will pick up the right book and it will change your life forever!!

‘World Book Day changes lives through a love of books and shared reading. Our mission is to promote reading for pleasure, offering every child and young person the opportunity to have a book of their own. Reading for pleasure is the single biggest indicator of a child’s future success – more than their family circumstances, their parents’ educational background or their income. We want to see more children, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, with a life-long habit of reading for pleasure and the improved life chances this brings them. Designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, World Book Day is marked in over 100 countries around the globe.’ https://www.worldbookday.com/about-us/

So what way will you celebrate World Book Day 2021? When you have attended your Zoom session and completed and submitted all your schoolwork you could enter the following competition:

All you have to do to enter is click on this link: https://www.worldbookday.com/competitions/design-a-national-book-token-2021/ The best thing about this competition is you could win hundreds of pounds worth of books for yourself and our school with this design a book token competition. To take part, you have to design a brand new National Book Tokens gift card. There will be a winner and runner-up selected in each of three age categories: up to 8 years, 9-12 years and 13-16 years. So get out those colours and get designing today!! If you get tour teacher to submit the entry then he or she will also get book tokens to buy new books!!

Another great activity is a World Book day scavenger hunt! There is one on the World Book Day website above for older classes which looks great. You will need lots of books and maybe you could pair up with a friend online if you don’t have many. Here is what it looks like and you can download it or copy it from the website:

Twinkl.com also have one that might be easier to use for younger children and it could be changed depending what books you have available to your children.

You could create your own either, swap and challenge some friends to find the things on your scavenger hunt.

Whatever you do today I hope you read and enjoy World Book Day 2021.

Stay safe, Ms. R. Furlong

World Book Day Events, Wednesday 3rd March,

 

Good morning everyone; I hope today is a fun filled, book filled day for you all. While World Book Day is tomorrow, 4th March 2021, there is actually a live event on today. If you go to the website https://www.worldbookday.com/events/ you will find the following:

‘Look forward to a star-studded cast of authors, illustrators and hosts – all here to help you celebrate the most exciting booky day of the year!

Our exciting line-up includes:

Wednesday 3rd March, 10.30am – Books that Make you LOL!
Starring: Humza Arshad, Alex Bellos & Ben Lyttleton (Football School), Jonny Duddle and Zanib Mian

Hosted by Kenny Baraka, motivational speaker’

If you scroll down further you will see the interactive box to click into this event. Unfortunately for some, you will be busy doing your online Zoom but for all other pupils this will be good to log into. They have asked for children to submit questions for the authors in advance and these will be asked during the session.

The website is also full of amazing resources for all ages from toddlers through secondary school with reading recommendations, fun activities to try at home, free audio books, share-a-story-corner video books which are links to books being read online and so much more! For example, one activity is Football School Activity Kit about playing football on Mars which some of you may enjoy doing. It is definitely worth clicking onto the website today or tomorrow and checking out all the resources available.

In keeping with World Book Day 2021 I would like you to get into the spirit of things by making a book mark today. I just love books so much and I always have done and for me there is nothing as bad as getting a book to read with all the corners turned down where people have marked the pages!! Yes, it is great that people are reading and it is great to see a much loved book enjoyed but I don’t like the corners turned down and a lovely book mark saves that!

There are so many templates for lovely bookmarks available online but really it should be unique to the reader. And all you need is some card from a box or some paper which can be laminated later, some colours and your imagination. Usually book marks are rectangular in shape but they do not have to be. If you want to add some wool or something that hangs out over the top of the page to make it easier to see the bookmark in a book then that is even better.

Design your book mark, you can design the back and front if you want and stick them back to back; just make sure you cut 2 pieces of card or paper the same size before designing.

If you are not sure and want some ideas there are loads of free templates and designs to help you online. For example, if you want something inspirational why not try one of these:

The website is on the picture so click in and check out other options for bookmarks.

If we were in school some of you would be planning and creating your costumes so you could dress up as your favourite character. I hope some of you will join Zoom dressed up. But I know it will be different this year. Usually the costumes would be on sale in the local shops and my daughter and I would have a look at them and chat about the ones we recognise and the ones we don’t but this year there are none out for sale. But a really cool art idea I saw was to make your favourite book characters from toilet roll holders!! What is your favourite book and who is your favourite character I wonder? Could you create them using a toilet roll or kitchen roll holder?

Le Chéile Online Learning shared this on Facebook last week and I loved the idea as soon as I saw it:

I hope you will try this activity today and I would love to see some of your favourite characters portrayed this way at our Zoom sessions tomorrow for World Book Day 2021 or a in a photograph sent into covidphotos@bunscoilris.ie with your favourite book for assembly this Friday!! We may not be able to dress up and get together in school but we can share and celebrate World Book Day 2021 in our own ways!!

Before I finish I would like to share this with you:

Again, this was shared by Le Chéile Online Learning on Facebook and it is a great resource to use. All 10 websites on this poster are free to access for all children of all ages, some are reading and some are maths, some about animals, science and geography. These are great websites, not only during lockdown when we are out of school but they are so useful and beneficial all year round. If you were to have a look at one a day each day you would have looked at them all before we return to school on the 15th of March and pick which ones are suitable for you!!Some you will like and some you won’t and that’s okay too.

Remember to log on for your Zoom sessions to keep attendance high over these last two weeks and submit all work on your portfolio on ClassDojo. And get outside for some fresh air and exercise while keeping to your 5km restrictions.

Whatever you do today I hope the sun shines on you all. Stay safe, Ms R. Furlong

An Oidhreacht san Earrach, Tuesday 2nd March, 2021

Happy Tuesday everyone, have a beautiful day and enjoy the outdoors when the sun shines. To start with I just want to draw your attention to the fact that it is STEPS Engineers Week 2021 which takes place from Saturday, 27 February – Friday, 5 March. This year, STEPS Engineers Week is going online due to the pandemic and there is lots of information on the website: https://www.engineersireland.ie/schools/engineers-week

If you would like to get involved in STEPS Engineers week just scroll down and click on the orange Primary Schools box and you will find a step by step explanation on how to plan your activity, register your activity, promote your activity and record your impact.

There is also a selection of suggested activities and resources that the STEPS team have gathered for primary school level which looks great. When you have some time this week after completing your school work then you should have a look at some of the activities on the list. I like the look of Hex Allen’s Guide to Defeating Monsters!! It reads: “The Engineers Ireland STEPS team have paired up with Jasmine Florentine, author & project illustrator of Hex Allen and the Clanksmiths, to share Hex Allen’s Guide to Defeating Monsters! Join Hex and her friends as they use science and engineering to get out of a bunch of scrapes, and make some fantastic gadgets in this special and exciting activity.”

I also wanted to post this today as some people are struggling with the lockdown and I know that some days I find harder than others. I want you all to be aware of the people around you and be kind. Do some random acts of kindness just to show those around you that you care. Be the person that puts a smile on someone else’s face today. And if you are feeling down then be kind to yourself too!!

March and Springtime

This always causes debate, when does spring begin in Ireland?  Traditionally speaking, spring generally starts in March and continues through April and May. However, Ireland’s Gaelic calendar is quite different than what most people consider spring to be. On the Gaelic calendar, spring or Earrach, spring starts on St Brigid’s Day on February 1st, celebrating the end of winter. https://www.wildernessireland.com/spring-in-ireland/

Either way, we are now in March and definitely in Spring so get out and about and look at all the signs of spring around. The last two days have been such lovely days that I wanted to suggest some outdoor activities and I saw this:

Keeping with Seachtain na Gaeilge, 2021, I thought this was a lovely activity sheet that you can do and tick off over the next 2 weeks until you come back to school. It comes from https://www.biodiversityireland.ie/ An Oidhreacht san Earrach,  Líosta de na rudaí ba cheart tabhairt fúthu; The Heritage of Spring, a list of things you should do.

There are different types of activities to do such as:

Éist le which means ‘listen to’

Foghlaim which means ‘learn’

Tarraing which means ‘draw’

Déan which means ‘make’

Maisigh which means ‘decorate’

Cuir which is ‘put’

Féach ar which means ‘look at’

Téigh chuig which means ‘go to’

Téigh sa tór ar which means ‘go in search of’

Déan taighde faoi which means ‘do research on’

Coinnigh which means ‘Keep’

Tabhair faoi deara which means ‘observe’ or ‘make notes’

Fág which means ‘leave’

While you are doing this you can be learning the verb list above and then try and use them in your Irish!!

The above website also has some great sections including the Hedgehog survey. If you see a hedgehog you can record it here as they are trying to build a greater understanding of hedgehogs across Ireland. Remember though they are nocturnal and come out at night. There are other research areas also so have a look before you venture out and you may be able to add to the research of Biodiversity Ireland.

Whatever you do today I hope you have fun and that you try and use your Cúpla focail. (Words or phrases in Irish!)

Stay safe, Ms R. Furlong

Seachtain na Gaeilge 2021, Monday 1st March, 2021

Fáilte go seachtain nua agus Dé Luain sona gach duine.

Seachtain na Gaeilge 2021

March 1, 2021 – March 17, 2021

‘An fhéile Ghaeilge is mó in Éirinn agus ar fud an domhain!

Is féile idirnáisiúnta Ghaeilge í Seachtain na Gaeilge le Energia, atá ar an gceiliúradh is mó dár dteanga agus dár gcultúr dúchais a bhíonn ar siúl in Éirinn agus in go leor tíortha eile gach bliain.’

The biggest Irish language festival in Ireland and in the world!

Seachtain na Gaeilge is an international Irish language festival with Energia, which is the biggest celebration of our native language and culture that takes place in Ireland and many other countries every year. This is taken from this year’s website can be found at: https://snag.ie/

Seachtain na Gaeilge is a non-profit organisation in Ireland which promotes the Irish language during a two-week (1st of March to the 17th) festival held at the beginning of March every year, just before Saint Patrick’s Day on March 17.

It begins today and had we been in school we would be doing lots of fun activities and games in Irish and there is nothing stopping us from doing the same at home!!

The first poster I am going to add is to help you with your Gaeilge:

It is a great resource to help you with asking questions in Irish!! To hold a conversation in any language it is important to be able to ask questions as well as answer them!! Spend some time reading through the poem above and maybe try to learn a verse each day this week and you will be able to ask questions in Irish by the end of the week!!

Also, I hope you got an opportunity to use Friday’s sheet to chat about how you are feeling around home schooling and returning to school and I’m adding a second sheet with chat ideas on it and maybe you can talk to those around you or your friends over the next few weeks before returning to school.

When you have attended your Zoom session and done all your schoolwork and uploaded it to ClassDojo, I would like you to do the following activity today in connection with Seachtain na Gaeilge 2021: What do you think are the good things about holidaying in Ireland? Design a poster or leaflet to encourage people to visit Ireland! Remember to tell people what there is to see and do while they are in Ireland. Make sure you add some images to draw the readers eye and make the poster or leaflet attractive.

We do have a group called Fáilte Ireland which is responsible for encouraging and promoting tourism in Ireland. It used to be called Bord Fáilte initially but changed in May 2003. Have a look at their website: https://www.failteireland.ie/ to see how they promote Ireland as a tourist destination both at home and abroad.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ireland

Tá súil agam go mbeidh lá iontach agaibh uile inniu.

Fan slán, Ms. R. Furlong

Thoughts to finish the week and some puzzles, Friday 26th February, 2021

Well here we are at Friday again and I look forward to seeing you all at our online Zoom assembly today at 11.00am. It is always great to see so many faces looking back on the computer screen for these assemblies and well done to everyone who logs on to join in. It is also great to see your photographs from the week and to hear the news from all your classes. Thank you all for sending in your photos and pictures of your work for us to see.

Next week sees the Junior School returning and lots of you will have siblings going back to school. Are you happy to have some time at home without them or will you miss them? Are they a little nervous and upset about going back and what can you do to help as an older brother or sister? Are you a little jealous as you are missing school and friends and you wish it was you going back first? For all families with children returning to school next Monday I wish you all well. Enjoy the weekend together and make some special memories.

So how do we all feel about returning to school in the next few weeks? I know from talking to children and families that there are a lot of mixed emotions and sometimes the best thing to do is talk about and name them because it is healthy to do so. Also, when we name emotions it can help us to feel better and feel closer to those we talk to. We should do this for positive and negative emotions and for little emotions so that when we have bigger, scarier ones we are already used to talking about them and it will hopefully be easier.

 I am putting this sheet in here as I feel it is a great way to start the conversation now and over the weekend about going back to school and how you are feeling about it. It is also important to acknowledge the good and bad from lockdown (if there is any of either) and look at what you have learned along the way. I found it on Facebook and have seen several different versions but they are all similar and the idea behind them all is to get us all talking about how we are feeling.

You will need someone to talk to, an adult or an older sibling at home maybe. You could chat to your teacher during Zoom sessions or by sending them a message and my email account is on the top of the page if anyone would like to email me and I am happy to help out and talk about any of these with any of you. I am also on ClassDojo. You could also chat to your friends or peers but remember it is ok to feel different to your friend as we are all individuals and we have all had a different experience of being at home and learning from home. But first you might want to read through these and take some time to think them over. You may want to write some things down and you can always print this sheet or copy it out and fill in some answers if you want but you do not have to. As the sheet states these are chat cards and are best used to start a conversation with someone else about how you are feeling. You can do this today, over the weekend, or over the next few weeks before we head back to school.

Another thing I came across and I love are the Where’s Wally type puzzles that are on the internet at the moment. Many different illustrators have released such images. I thought you would like to have a look at these and find the hidden characters. For example:

This illustration, created by Max Knoblauch, features a potato hiding among a number of hamsters in various states of happiness, with a few dressed up in wacky costumes to throw off guesses. Can you see the potato?

Here is cartoon by the Hungarian cartoonist Gergely Dudas who goes by the name Dudolf. Can you find the panda among the snowmen?

Here is another similar cartoon by Dudolf. This time you have to find the Easter egg hidden in this group of bunnies!

These sort of puzzles drive some people crazy when they cannot find the hidden item but they are very good at helping you to concentrate and focus. Doing puzzles also help you to build and reinforce connections between your brain cells and improve your short term memory and mental speed. The more of them you do the better you should get at them. The same is true for lots of different puzzles so I am going to add some more for you to do today and over the weekend if you are looking for something to keep you occupied for a while.

You might want an old copy with a few sheets to figure this out!!

How well do you know your animals?? This might be tricky!!

And finally I am adding this picture which has some Disney movie characters or objects hidden in it. How many can you find and can you name the movies?

You know anyone can create a puzzle really. If you look at the puzzles included here they are different and some are hard and some are easy. If you really want to push yourself this weekend you could come up with some puzzles of your own. Get someone at home to try them to see if they work and are doable and then send them onto friends to try. You can also send them to me by email or to your class teacher on ClassDojo so they can be shared.

Whatever you do today and over the weekend I hope you have fun, have a chat and challenge your brain with a puzzle.

Stay safe, Ms R. Furlong

Squeeze In a Read, Thursday 25th February, 2021

From New Ross Library facebook page

Happy Thursday everyone. Ireland Reads is a new national day to celebrate reading and today we are all invited to get reading.

Why? According to https://www.irelandreads.ie/ it is “Because taking some time for yourself to relax and do the things you enjoy (like reading) is important to help look after your mental wellbeing.” It is worth a visit and look at the great images too, some of which I have included below.

We all know and have seen and heard about the drive for everyone, from young children all the way up to adults to look after their mental health. This is even more important right now during a pandemic where we are in lockdown and are away from our friends and family. So why not decide that you are definitely going to read today and you can even make a pledge on the website above for how many minutes and hours you will read for today. We will also see how many minutes people all over Ireland will be squeezing in to read on Thursday 25 February. As of last night at 9.00pm the people of Ireland had pledged to read for 496,950 minutes today, Thursday 25th February, 2021. Why not go online and add to this and encourage those at home to do the same. You can take time as a family to do some reading; older siblings can read to or with younger siblings and you can read alone if that’s what you prefer.

It doesn’t matter what you read, where you read or how long you read for as long as you squeeze in a read somewhere today. I for one just love reading and I get lost in so many books. I am sad when I finish some books as I don’t want it to end and other times I just love to get to the end to find out what happens. I have laughed and cried at so many books and I have made friends with so many characters along the way. I love most genres and this love of books has come from my Mam and her Mam and I am delighted that my daughter seems to have inherited it too. I know lots of pupils love to read and some who don’t may find that if they read a little everyday they may learn to love it too!!

“Ireland Reads is a public libraries initiative, in partnership with publishers, booksellers, authors and others under the Government’s ‘Keep Well’ campaign.”

I know that some people may not have many books at home to read or you may have already read them during the lockdown. Luckily the internet offers us opportunities to find books online now too. The libraries themselves are closed at the moment and I know many pupils borrow from the libraries but did you know that you can borrow online? You will need a library ID or barcode if you are already a member and if not you can join up online now too.  The system is called Borrowbox and it can be accessed at Wexford County Council at: https://fe.bolindadigital.com/wldcs_bol_fo/b2i/mainPage.html?b2bSite=4838

You can borrow ebooks to read and audio books if you would prefer. You can have a look for recommendations on the New Ross Library Facebook page if someone has an account at home or go straight to the website above and browse. I also know that there are many other websites that also offer free online books for kids to read. Some of these are:

  • Oxford Owl
  • Storyline Online
  • International Children’s Digital Library
  • Open Library
  • Amazon’s Free Kids Ebooks
  • Barnes & Noble Free Nook Books for Kids
  • P’s Magic Library

These are just some and I am sure there are many more also available.

Also know that reading is not limited to books! Some children may prefer to spend time reading a newspaper or magazine. Some of you might like to read about animals, history of sports, world history, geography of different countries, fashion blogs and much more. Reading does not always come in book form so read whatever you choose, just read! And remember; this is not just for today for Ireland Reads but for every day!

Do you want to go places today? Do you want to take some time out and relax?

When you have attended your Zoom session and done your schoolwork for today my recommendation is to log onto the website up top and pledge some minutes and maybe even an hour to read, encourage everyone at home to do the same and then sit back and relax and find some magic in a book!! Take that time to look after your mental well being because you are worth every minute of it!!

Enjoy Ireland Reads and squeeze in that read today! Stay safe, Ms R. Furlong

All About Me, Wednesday 24th February, 2021

From Pinterest

Happy Wednesday everyone, hope today brings you lots of smiles. We are at the middle of the school week again and the end is definitely getting nearer with the announcements made last night. It looks like we will all be back in school on March 15th, just over 2 weeks. I know this will bring a whole lot of different feelings and emotions for lots of people. Some children will be so happy going back to school while some will be really sad, some will be a bit scared and some excited. The adults around you may feel different feelings and emotions too and this is all perfectly normal! What is important is that we will get back to school and hopefully stay safe there until the Easter holidays. So let’s hope we get some great weather the next few weeks while we are still at home in lockdown and we can all make the most of the remainder of this school closure.

With this in mind I would like you to make a list of some things you would like to do before going back to school. Maybe you are a bit behind on schoolwork and you would like to catch up? Maybe you have a project you haven’t finished which you could do? Maybe you just want to do some things or spend some time with the people you care about at home and that’s important too. Make that list today and start to tick off the things on it as you complete them.

Next I was thinking about what you could do today when you have attended your Zoom, finished your schoolwork and had some time outside.

The last few weeks my own child has been asking me lots of questions about herself when she was a baby and young child. This got me thinking about when I was teaching different classes over the years and when we got talking about themselves lots of pupils didn’t know some information about when they were babies. In lots of cases they went home and asked lots of questions and came back into school to share what they had learned. I wonder how many of you know the answers to these questions? Some might know but some may not. Some may not be able to ask these questions and that’s okay too.

I thought that the time you are at home could be asked to sit down with the adults in your life and find out some of the following:

When and where were you born? When as in what time? Day or night?

Where did your name come from? Who chose it? Was it a family name or a name chosen for a reason?

What weight and length were you when you were born?

Did you have hair and what colour was it?

Who was there when you were born? Who was the first to hold you?

When did you crawl first? Walk?

When did you talk and what was you first word?

Were you christened and who were your Godparents if you were?

Who visited you when you were in hospital and when you came home? Or maybe you were born at home?

All these things are so personal to each and every one of us and not many can answer the questions for us so make sure you record any information you get to always have. You can use a diary, a page, a poster page to decorate or whatever you want to.

Then to finish I would like you to stop and think about the important people in your life. Some will be family and some won’t be! Some families are huge and some are tiny so the numbers will vary loads and that’s okay. Then I want you to get a sheet and draw a heart as big as you can.

On the top of the sheet I want you to write:

I am loved and cared for by…..

Then I want you to write the names or draw all the people you have in your life who love and care about you.

Then when you look at this you can realise just how loved and cared for you are. On the end of the sheet I want you to write:

“I, ______________ am so loved.”

These are all personal things so I am not going to ask people to share them as I usually do. But I would ask you to keep any information you find out about yourself safe and keep the love heart somewhere you can see it so you know how loved you are. And know that we are so proud of you all because you are all our heroes and have been right through this pandemic!!

Whatever you do today I hope it brings you new knowledge and happiness and lots of love. Stay safe, Ms R. Furlong

Mars landing, Tuesday 23rd February, 2021

Happy Tuesday everyone, I hope you all enjoy today, and if not the whole day then at least a part of it! I love the quote that says, “Every day may not be good but there is something good in every day.” Sometimes it is difficult to remember this and there can be a tendency to look at all our days right now as bad days and lockdown days. But we have to remember and appreciate that there is lots to learn and do these days and we have seen this since Christmas in all the amazing work that you have all posted online. Such examples are the amazing artwork, baking, projects, schoolwork, exercising and a whole variety of other things. You have shown us all the things you can learn and do from home and have shown us adults how great you all are. So remember today to stop every so often, and even if the day is bad have a look for the good things!! I know they are there.

Mars

I wonder how many of you know that NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover, pictured above, landed on Mars on Thursday, 18th of February, 2021. The main objective of this mission to Mars is astrobiology research. This involves a search for ancient life on Mars, collecting samples and studying the planet Mars like never before! I wonder what it would be like to visit Mars? I wonder has there been life on this planet before?

https://mars.nasa.gov/is the website to read all about this mission. It has some amazing images of the NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover and images that have been sent back to Earth from the rover. But my favourite part so far is the video of the descent of NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover onto the surface of Mars and the video is available to watch at the website above! The images of Mars from when the descent begins to when it touches down are so cool. Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun (Earth is third) and the second smallest planet in our Solar System. It is often called the red planet and so the images of the surface during the descent and on touchdown were not quite what I expected. I guess I expected it to be more ‘red’!!

When you have attended your Zoom and done your schoolwork today I would like you to have a look online and watch the video above, it is just under 3 ½ minutes. Then I would like you to choose something to do today connected with Mars.

Suggestions are:

  • Have a read of parts of the website above and write down some interesting facts about Mars and the current mission.
  • Have a look at Mars and the other planets in our Solar System and write some interesting facts about them all. Remember to compare and contrast them by size, distance from the Sun, gravity etc.
  • Get a large sheet or several sheets connected together and draw the planets in order from the Sun and make sure you show the various sizes of each and the moons or rings they have.
  • Have a look at and draw the NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover.
  • Imagine you get to visit Mars and you meet and inhabitant. What do they look like? Draw or describe them. Then come up with the 3 main questions you would ask them about life on Mars!
  • Write an interesting diary entry from your visit to Mars making sure to detail some of the following: the weather and temperature, sunrise time, surface information, what it is like to move around on Mars, what it is like to breathe and if you need equipment, where or what are you living in on Mars and what you are eating and drinking.
  • Imagine that you could create a new planet to live on. What would it be called and what would it be like. Again, have a look above and make it interesting!

You never know, one day some of you may get to travel beyond our planet and even live on another planet!! Wouldn’t that be so cool!!

Whatever you do today I hope you enjoy it. Stay Safe, Ms. R. Furlong

Arty Monday, 22nd February, 2021

Welcome back everyone and happy Monday. I hope you have all had a relaxing half term away from home schooling. I hope you have rested up and you are now ready to come back and start into the second half term. Hopefully you won’t be doing online schooling for the whole half term and will be back in school before you know it.

I know we hadn’t expected to be still in lockdown and still out of school at this stage of the school year. I know it is hard for lots of you doing home schooling, I know lots of you are missing school, missing your friends, missing your after school activities like soccer, hurling, dancing and swimming, missing being out and about with others, missing grandparents and other relatives right now. I know it can be really difficult and you need to be kind to yourselves right now. I saw this poster on Facebook and I loved it straight away:

It can be used by adults who see this with your children but it can also be used by children and young people themselves. You young people can say the 10 things to yourselves when you feel like crying!! Because, IT IS OK to be sad, It doesn’t feel fair, and It is really hard for you. For some of the others it is so important to link in with a parent or adult, or maybe an older sibling who can help you. It is so important right now to ask for help, to show this to the adults around you and say that you are struggling and that you need help in the ways above!! Because lots of us adults feel this way too!! Lots of us adults feel like crying and I have cried many times during this pandemic and I am sure that I will cry many more times before it ends!! There is nothing to be ashamed of in saying this and asking for help. SO please do ask for help and support if and when you need it. We must look after our mental health during these times.  

Another great way of looking after ourselves during this time is to get outside every day and get some fresh air. Get away from the school books every day for a period of time. Get out of the house and away from the Xbox, iPad, mobile phone or other gadgets and go for a walk, a run, a cycle, kick a ball or practice some hurling skills. It doesn’t matter what you do, just get outside. Connect to nature, look around and see the signs of spring around you. Splash in puddles on wet days and look for rainbows. Visit the woods or The Ponds!! This is important every day, not just today!! It puts a smile on my face to get out into nature. I wonder can anyone guess where I am in this picture?

Today I want to tell you a little more about 67th Texaco Children’s Art Competition. Texaco are now inviting young artists in Ireland to participate in a national celebration of Children’s Art as they mark 67 years of the Texaco Children’s Art Competition!!  This is the longest running arts sponsorship in the history of arts sponsoring in Ireland. Every year they receive so many entries and some of the artwork is just amazing, brilliant and superb!!

The closing date for this year’s competition is Wednesday, 24th March 2021. All information about how to enter, rules and the application form which must be attached can be found at: https://www.texacochildrensart.com

Also, please go to the website and click on Art Galleries in a yellow cloud shape to have a look at the artwork from the years gone by. I just love the variety of artwork at different age levels and it is so worth having a look.

The great thing about this competition is that it allows you to express yourself as you want to, because you can choose any subject that interests you and create art. No limits on the subject of your artwork.

Why not spend some time over the next few weeks creating a piece of art to submit? Also, some of you have some amazing art pieces already which you could submit either. If you are not in you can’t win!! There are certain rules around the size of the artwork so please check these out before you start so you know what to work towards.

And on that topic I would love you to try to create a piece of art today. When you have done your Zoom session, completed your schoolwork and gone outside for some fresh air and to connect to nature you can try and create some art!! And like the Texaco Art competition I am going to leave the topic, style and size of the artwork today up to you. The only rule is to enjoy expressing yourself through art!! And please post some photos of your artwork to ClassDojo and to the email address on the top of the page for Friday’s assembly, we love to see them all.

Whatever you do today I hope you enjoy the day and have fun making lockdown memories. Stay safe, Ms R. Furlong

February Half Term Holidays, Friday 11th February, 2021

Happy Friday and happy holidays to everyone. We have reached the last day of the first half term and we have next week off school. There will be no school work, no online learning and no Zoom sessions. Instead we will have a week off to rest and to enjoy. I have seen so much amazing schoolwork, art and baking, exercising and project work on ClassDojo over the last five weeks so I know that many of you are ready for a break. You have been working so, so hard and you should all be proud of yourselves. We have loved seeing you on daily Zoom classes and at Zoom assembly’s on Fridays. It has been difficult but so many have stepped up to the mark and got on with home schooling and we are so proud of you.

There will be a few special days over the week off school.

To start with this Sunday is St. Valentine’s Day and I hope it is a fun day where you get to share love with those special people in your lives. It might have to be on the phone, in a letter or card or some dropped flowers but the love will be the same none the less.

Next Tuesday is Pancake Tuesday and that is usually a fun day in school. We would be sharing pancakes in The Nest and trying different toppings. This year you get to enjoy the day and share it with your family instead. I have been Zooming with a fourth class and we have chatted about the toppings and chocolate spread seems to be the favourite but there were some others such as plain pancakes, chocolate and cream and strawberries, maple syrup, lemon, sugar and toffee sauce. I wonder how you will enjoy your pancakes? What toppings will you all use? I hope it is a delicious pancake filled day for everyone!!

Here is a great poster with some interesting facts all about Pancake Tuesday. Just click the following link and enjoy: https://www.wilsonhartnell.ie/client-news/siucras-pancake-tuesday-facts/

Do you all know why and when Pancake Tuesday began? Pancake Tuesday is also Shrove Tuesday which is the day before Ash Wednesday. It is usually observed in many Christian countries through participating in confession and absolution. Also the previous year’s Holy Week palms are burned and the ash used on Ash Wednesday for blessing. People made their final decisions about what they are giving up for Lent. People also eat pancakes and other sweet treats on what is sometimes known as Fat Tuesday. Why? The tradition dates back to 600 A.D., when all animal products were banned during Lent. Christians therefore made pancakes on Fat Tuesday to use up their supply of butter, milk, and eggs before Lent. For most Christians nowadays Lent is very different. Lots of people decide to give up something or to do something good for others but the banning of all animal products has stopped for most. This is why we eat pancakes.

The following day, Wednesday, is Ash Wednesday and begins the season of Lent. Lent is the time of year when Christians prepare for Easter. In normal times people go to mass and get blessed with ashes on the forhead. Usually the priest would come into school and anyone who wanted to receive the blessing would do so. This year there will be no blessing with ashes and no mass to attend. Instead people will watch mass if they want to on the live stream from the church and ashes can be collected at the church. It won’t be the same but then we are getting used to this. Lent lasts for 40 days. During Lent, many Christians fast, or go without regular meals in memory of Jesus Christ, who is said to have fasted for 40 days in the desert.

Some older people still observe fasting during Lent but I am not sure it has much bearing for you all as school age children. Even for adults times have changed and people now choose for themselves how they want to prepare for Easter.

When I was a child we went to mass every morning during Lent and then we went on to school. Most of my class would have been in mass too. We also didn’t have sweets during Lent and we were supposed to help more around the house.

There are three things Christians are encouraged to do during Lent:

  • Give something up that you don’t need or something you always do, but isn’t necessary.
  • Attend mass and pray.
  • Set a goal or goals to help those in need.

On the last one; I remember during Lent when I was in 6th class my friend and I were getting ready to make our Confirmation. We did chores to get some money and we bought sweets. Then we went to the old folk’s hospital each week and visited the residents and gave out the sweets. They in turn told us stories and we sang for them and I will always remember those visits. It was a lovely experience to remember and even though I was nervous about going to start with I am glad I did. I will have to have a think about what goals I can set this year.

Today, when all the schoolwork is done and you have attended the Zoom assembly or if you would rather do this over the weekend or early next week then I would like you to do this simple activity. I would like you to talk with those around you; parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles or older siblings and ask them what Lent was like for them when they were your age. I am sure grandparents would love to share their experiences with you on the phone or facetime or however you keep in contact.

Things you could ask them are:

Did they fast in any way and do they still do it? Did they give up anything for lent like treats? Did they decide to do kind things for others and if they did what were these things? How has Lent changed for them since they were your age? Maybe make a chart where you can ask similar questions to different people and compare the answers. Then have a think about whether you would like to do anything for Lent? Will you give up sweets or treats? Will you do more acts of kindness?

Stained glass window:

Another activity I would like you to do in advance of Ash Wednesday is to create a template for a stained glass window. The idea is you colour in a part each time you do a good deed during Lent, starting on Ash Wednesday and finishing on Easter Sunday. If you do not celebrate Easter and Lent you can still do the stained glass window and colour in a piece each time you do a good deed and complete the window as a reminder of those deeds. Random Acts of Kindness cross all religions and now and can be completed by all children.

Here is a basic template to show you:

Just draw an arch as in the picture or any shape window you want to. Draw in squiggle lines crossing each other to create many pieces in the window. Then colour one each time you do a good deed for others. Before long your window will be complete and you will have a record of all your good deeds and something beautiful to show for them.  

Bucket list:

Another activity I would like you to try is to make a bucket list. Over the next week I would like you to have a think about the different things you would like to do when restrictions ease. The days are getting longer and the weather will start to get milder and hopefully we will all be able to get out and about a bit more. It would be great to have a bucket list made of the things you would like to do both alone and with friends or family going forward. You might have things like read a particular book, watch a particular movie, learn how to cook or bake something, get to a certain level on a computer game, camp outdoors etc. The list is endless and the great thing is there are no right or wrong things to add. Your bucket list of things you want to do will be unique to you. Then decorate the list and put it somewhere you will see it and be reminded of the things you want to achieve. Then tick them off when they have been completed.

There are lots of other activities from arts and crafts to outdoor scavenger hunts described and explained below since January and from the last lockdown so if you are looking for something to do over the week off why not have a look down through and try some things.

Whatever you do today and over the week of school holidays I hope the good days outweigh any bad ones, I hope the smiles outweigh the frowns and I hope you get lots of rest.

Stay safe, Ms. R. Furlong

Chinese New Year Celebrations 2021, Thursday 11th February, 2021

Happy Thursday to you all and I am not sure if we will have snow today or not! Whether it is snowing or rain, cold or not I hope you will be someone’s sunshine today. If there is snow I hope you get out and enjoy it! Maybe you can complete some of these challenges:

  • Build a snowman or snow woman the same height as you are
  • Make snowballs and have a snowball fight
  • Build an igloo
  • Make snow angels
  • Make some frozen bubbles by blowing bubbles and watching what happens to them if they land on the snow
  • Create an ice sculpture
  • Have a snow picnic
  • Go down a hill on a snow sleigh and if you do not have one then make one using an old plastic bag or box

There are lots of things you can do in the snow and some snow fun would be good for everyone right now. Just make sure to wrap up warm and if you are taking clothes for a snow man or snow woman ask first.

Did you know the Chinese New Year Celebrations begin today!! They last 16 days in total but only the first 7 days are considered a public holiday (February 11th–17th, 2021). This is a brilliant website to have a look at the different traditions and celebrations that happen during this time. https://chinesenewyear.net/ It has lots of information such as:

Chinese New Year 2021 will be observed this Friday, February 12th, 2021. The Chinese New Year festival period is starting from Chinese New Year’s eve which is today, Thursday 11th to the Lantern Festival on the 26th of February. The Lantern Festival began over 2000 years ago. It apparently has many meanings and celebrates family reunions and society. It features ancient spiritual traditions. Some also call this the “true” Chinese Valentine’s Day. There are many activities including moon gazing, lighting lanterns, riddles, lion dances and eating rice balls. Some of the images of the lanterns released during the Lantern Festival are beautiful.

One lovely tradition is that of red pockets/red packets/red envelopes. This is where money is put into one of these and it is known as “lucky money” or “New Year’s money.” By giving the money to children, elders are hoping to pass on a year of good fortune and blessings. Another version is given by the younger generation to their elders as a blessing of longevity and a show of gratitude. In some regions of China, rather than between generations, married couples will give red envelopes to their unmarried friends to transfer some luck. These are usually decorated and very beautiful.

The lucky money tradition began in the Han dynasty. Rather than real money, they were small collectibles in the form of coins to ward off evil spirits. Auspicious phrases and symbols were engraved onto the surface.  These included “Worldwide peace”, “Longevity and fortune” and dragons and phoenixes were common.

https://chinesenewyear.net/

You may already know about Chinese New Year dragons. The dragon dance is often performed during Chinese New Year. They create formations to the beat of Chinese drums and cymbals. Chinese dragons are a symbol of China’s culture, and they are believed to bring good luck to people. The longer the dragon is in the dance, the more luck it will bring to the community.

To see more images and learn more about the Chinese New Year 2021 and all its traditions and celebrations visit the website above and have a look. It is great to learn some things about important celebrations to people in other parts of the world and indeed to Chinese living here in Ireland.

So linked to this I have an activity I would like you to do when you have done all your school work and Zoom session.

The Chinese Zodiac is based on a 12 year cycle that begins with the rat and ends with the pig.  After the 12th year, the cycle starts with the rat again.  Every year is represented by a different animal.  This year, beginning on Friday, it will be the year of the OX. Several different websites claim that the ox, in Chinese culture, is a hardworking zodiac sign. It usually signifies movements so, hopefully, the world will be less static than last year and get moving again in the second half of the year. I wonder will this be true!!

The Chinese Zodiac is based on when Chinese New Year begins and the Chinese calendar, not the calendar we use from January to December. There is a lovely story to show how the order of the animals came about on the link below.

http://mandarinforme.com/downloadable-resources/chinese-zodiac/

You can also put in your date of birth and it will calculate the animal you are on the Chinese Zodiac. Then what I would like you to do is to draw your animal and have a look online for some information about this animal.  

Here is my drawing from yesterday and my Chinese Zodiac animal is the Ox.

Whatever you choose to do today I hope you enjoy it. Don’t forget to send in some pictures if you do this activity as we love to see your artwork.

Stay safe, Ms R. Furlong

St Valentine’s Day Activities, Wednesday 10th February, 2021

Happy Wednesday everyone and I hope it is a great Wednesday. I can feel us roller coasting our way towards the weekend and half term break. I love the little love heart too as we roller coast our way towards St. Valentine’s Day too. I’m not sure when we will get on a real roller coaster again so this may have to do for a while. I wonder have you started working on some art for St. Valentine’s Day on Sunday? People often talk about sending cards to a boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, partner etc but we can send love to anyone who is special to us or important to us! If you haven’t already then maybe today is the day to send something in the post to loved ones that you can’t be around in person at the moment. Grandparents or an aunt or uncle or a family friend would all love to get a little something in the post from you. I know that An Post have given free postcards the last few weeks to family homes to send love as they state to others. They are free to post and a lovely gift to send and receive during these times.

 

Here are some images from An Post. If you have not received them maybe someone at home could call the post office and ask for some.

St Valentine:

St Valentine is the patron saint of love and young people. Valentine was put into prison when the emperor found out that he was performing marriage ceremonies for young men and women when marriage was banned. A story which we hear about St Valentine around this time is that while he was in prison he met the daughter of the jailer who was blind and he healed her.

https://theflowerfactory.wordpress.com/2015/01/22/was-valentinus-really-a-saint-the-tradition-of-valentines-day/

Apparently he fell in love with the girl, Julia, and before his death it is said that he had written her a letter and signed it “From Your Valentine”! This is an expression that is still used to sign secret valentine cards. We don’t really know exactly what happened as this was nearly 2000 years ago. Either way, gifting people love and cards or different things will be even more important this year when we think of this lockdown.

Writing activity for today:

So when you are finished your schoolwork for today I would like you to think about what you would write in your card if you are sending one or on your artwork.

We see lots of poems for St. Valentine’s Day every year. One that has been used since I was a child is:

Roses are red,

Violets are blue,

Sugar is sweet 

And so are you!

Of course when I was a child there was no internet to google poems and everyone just made up little poems. Today we have the world at our finger tips and we can find any poem we want online along with cards and images to print and colour. But sending a poem or a piece of writing to someone you love or care about should be as individual as the love you have for them! Today I would like you to write a poem or a piece of writing for someone for St. Valentine’s Day. Here are some ideas of different things you could write:

  • You could write a rhyming poem like Roses are Red above.
  • You could write an acrostic poem using a word like love:

L

O

V

E

  • You could choose to write a Cinquain poem which is written with five lines and follows the pattern below:

Line 1: one word which is the subject of the poem, in this case ‘Love’

Line 2: write 2 adjectives to describe the subject

Line 3: write three positive things about the subject

Line 4: write four words about how subject makes you feel

Line 5: write one word again which is the same word used in line one!!

  • You could write a biography poem which is a poem based on the person for whom you are writing it. This poem would describe the characteristics of that person and why you love and care about them.

Maybe you don’t want to make a card or a piece of art but you just want to do the writing part then I am sure the receiver will love it.

Today is a good day to think about the people you love, not just because it is St Valentine’s Day! Let those you love know and tell them what they mean to you in your own special way. This is important.

https://www.slideshare.net/naushadme/how-to-stay-young-and-happy-always/8-Tell_the_people_you_love

Whatever you do today have fun and enjoy your day. Know that we are thinking of you all and missing you all.

We look forward to the day we can all be back in school together.  Until then stay safe, Ms. R. Furlong

Valentines Art, Tuesday 9th February, 2021


Happy Tuesday everyone, hope you all have a beautiful day today. Wow, the days and weeks are flying in and it is hard to believe that we are on the last week before half term. And come Friday we will have a week off of school to relax, forget about home schooling and Zoom sessions and to forget that we are in lockdown. But we still have 4 days including today to meet on Zoom and to connect via the virtual word and to do our home schooling. This Sunday is Valentine’s Day, February 14th and I thought today is as good a day as any to start working on some Valentine’s art. But before we do we should read a little about St. Valentine.

St. Valentine was a Roman Catholic priest who lived in Rome in Italy in the 200s. The emperor of the time, Claudius the Cruel as he was known had banned marriage. He apparently did this because he wanted to go to war and he needed men to join his army. He believed that men would be more eager to go and join his army if they were not married. St Valentine apparently didn’t agree with the ban and he secretly helped couples in love to marry. He was martyred on February 14, in the year 278 AD. This means that he died for his faith and because of this we celebrate love on this date each year in his name. There is a great video explaining the story f St Valentine at this link if you would like to watch it and learn some more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxpFmnou_aQ

So what should we try and create today when you have done all your school work and Zoom sessions? People usually share cards and gifts on Valentine’s Day and I thought that today you could do the following art to gift to someone on Sunday.

This is a simple art project to do and could be done on a large piece of card or paper or on a smaller sheet folded into a card!! You can do it whatever way you want to.

It is simple really:

Get a sheet of paper or card from recycling such as a cereal box or other box! Draw a heart on the front and add the writing. This can be personalised to; I love you to pieces, We love you to pieces, We love you both to pieces etc. if you have younger siblings you can do this with them and give it from all of you!!

Then cut up coloured pieces of paper. Again, you may not have coloured sheets at home but you can cut up food wrappers or other paper from recycling in different colours and use these. (Be careful with scissors.)

Get some glue and stick the pieces of paper down inside the heart and leave to dry. You can then make it into a card or design a frame around it or personalise it whatever way you want to and keep it to give to someone you love on Sunday. Or you can send it in the post to grandparents or other people you love but don’t live with. And of course it can be sent to a secret valentine either!!

You can do this the opposite way too; you can write or colour inside the heart and stick the coloured paper pieces around the outside of the heart. It is all about making this your own.

Whatever you do today I hope you do something kind for those you love around you and act out love on the run to St. Valentine’s Day.

Stay safe, Ms. R. Furlong

Kite Flying Day Monday, 8th February, 2021

Good morning everyone. I saw this picture on Facebook and loved the image of all the children learning together because it gives me some hope and I hope it won’t be long before you will all be outside learning again together. I always love it when the weather is good and the children get to be outside more. Until then I look forward to another week of Zooms where we all get to be together apart. And today will be great.

The Six Nations Championship 2021:

I wonder did many children watch the rugby at the weekend? It was a disappointing start to The Six Nations Championship 2021 for Ireland unfortunately, as we were beaten 21-16 by Wales. But it is not over for us and we can still win our other matches. It must feel very weird and surreal for the players to be playing to empty stadiums. Another thing restricted in the times we are living in I guess and another thing that will come right again going forward. Another thing maybe we will all appreciate in the future; the opportunity to go to sports matches for some and to play sport for others. We will have to shout even louder next week when Ireland play France on Sunday afternoon.

Ireland’s Call:

If we were in school we would probably have heard Ireland’s call around the school in the lead up to the start of the Six Nations. Ireland’s call was commissioned by the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) for the 1995 World Cup. Most countries use their national anthem before a match.  A small number of the IRFU’s members are Ulster unionists from Northern Ireland and the use of the anthem of the Republic of Ireland “Amhrán na bhFiann”, “The Soldier’s Song” was regarded as inappropriate. So now when Ireland play rugby at home in the Republic of Ireland both anthems are sung and at away matches like today in Cardiff, Wales only Ireland’s Call is sung. If you do not already know both these songs then I would recommend that you take the opportunity over the next week or so when you are at home from school to and learn them. You will find the words online and videos of the songs on YouTube if you are interested.

A Minute Silence:

Another notable thing from the pre-match rituals from today and the other Six Nations Championship fixtures on Saturday was an important moment of silence as players, officials, and everyone involved in rugby stated their opposition to racism and discrimination in all its forms. It was great to see as a lot of people of all ages follow rugby, especially at this level, and therefore these teams and these fixtures offer an ideal opportunity to show such opposition to racism and discrimination.

GAA Anti-Bullying Campaign and art competition:

A little closer to home Wexford GAA launched an anti-bullying campaign as the county takes a stand against all forms of bullying. To help promote the anti-bullying campaign, Wexford GAA in partnership with People newspapers are running an art competition. They have asked young fans to design their own anti-bullying posters. There are two age groups (U13 and U17) for entrants and the winners will have their artwork displayed at Chadwicks Wexford Park and published in the local newspapers. I realise that these are older ages, especially for our younger pupils but it is still worth putting pen/pencil/colours to paper and have your say against bullying!! You never know but you could win the U13 section. When you have attended your Zoom and completed your schoolwork each day this week then spend a bit of time working on a poster. To enter, you need to send your anti-bullying poster in JPEG fil format to wexfordphotos@peoplenews.ie by Friday, 19 February. Make sure to include your name, address and a contact number of a parent or guardian. For more information click the attached link: http://www.wexfordgaa.ie/2021/01/wexford-gaa-delighted-partner-people-newspapers-raise-awareness-issue-bullying/ It is great to see sports groups, national and international, coming out against bullying, racism and discrimination to try and stamp them out.

Kite Flying Day 2021:

Lastly, did you know that today is Kite Flying Day 2021 worldwide? I am not sure whether the weather will lend itself today to flying a kite but it will lend itself to making a kite. And the nest thing is most people should have materials at home which they could recycle to make a kite.

https://www.budgetdumpster.com/blog/how-to-make-plastic-bag-kite/

There are many websites and videos on YouTube describing how to make a home-made kite but this one above is the one we are going to try at home. Lots of times when I go to the shop I forget to bring my bags to put my groceries in and have to buy a new one and therefore I have lots of plastic bags at home. This website makes kites using recycled plastic bags so we turn a bag into a toy!  My main idea I would like you to try today is to make a kite and then fly it if the weather is suitable. If not you can make a kite and fly it on the next suitable day!! Warning: Do not fly kites anywhere near overhead power cables or pylons as it is dangerous. And as usual I would love to see some of your kites and the fun you have with them in pictures on ClassDojo so do post them. Also, if you get a chance have a look at kites online, there are some amazing kites from around the world to see.

Whatever you do today have some fun and get outside into the fresh air. If it is cold wrap up warm and if it is wet then put on a coat and wellies or old shoes!! There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes!!

Stay safe, Ms. R. Furlong

Superhero Project for Children’s Mental Health Week, Friday 5th February, 2021

As we begin another Friday let us celebrate the week that has passed, let us be thankful for all the good in it and let us hope that our families are safe and well. I hope that some children will have watched the various videos on expressing yourself as the theme of Children’s Mental Health Week 2021 and got something from them. I hope someone did something this week to express themselves in a way that makes them feel good; through art, dance, music, writing, poetry, making videos, sports, coding, creating games or whatever you enjoy best. And here I am above doing my happy dance, expressing myself and my delight that we have made it through another week of home schooling and of lockdown and no school and we are one week closer to our new normal. So happy Friday to each and every one of you and I hope you will all make it a great Friday and a great weekend!

I was in school yesterday and when I arrived the gates were locked, the school was locked and it was all in silence. It was opened up and we went in and the quiet was overwhelming!! Not a child in sight or a sound to be heard. I went for a walk around the school and the light came on one behind the other as I passed through the corridors and then off again after me I am sure. The place is silent. But all your art is up on the walls and some Christmas decorations are still up and I could see you guys everywhere and it made me smile. It won’t be long hopefully until you are all back walking the corridors with us and we will welcome you all back with open arms and be delighted to see you all. We miss you, I miss you and especially the children who visit The Nest and I can’t wait to see you all.

You will have great stories of these times to pass on one day to children, grandchildren , nieces, nephews etc and they will be amazed with the stories of lockdown and online learning and home schooling. You guys are all living in a time that will be written about in history books and you are part of that ‘history’. So do lots, create, draw, write and record moments. Take photographs and keep diaries and have things to talk about and tell about these times in the future.

Assembly:

I look forward to seeing you all on Zoom today at 11. It was so cool last Friday to go from screen to screen and see all our staff and so many pupils joining in from home. Let’s make the number attending today even higher so be sure to join us and encourage your siblings and friends who are pupils at our school to join us too. And remember; Cameras on so we can see you all!!

Superhero activites:

When you have finished your school work and been to our assembly then I would like you to check out this link: https://www.place2be.org.uk/media/w0rjhn5u/the-art-room-at-home-superhero-project.pdf

I have written before many times how much I admire all our pupils and young people as you are all doing such a great job being at home, missing school and friends, learning and doing your school work at home and not complaining, well not too much anyway! I know you will have some days that are harder than others but we will all get through this and better days will come. When I saw this on the website in connection to Children’s Mental Health Week I had to recommend it as an activity for today and this weekend. It is a multiple part project so it will take some time and commitment and is a perfect project to do over the weekend too.

The project comprises of three different activities and you can choose to do 1, 2 or 3 of them. All the materials you need are paper or card paint, crayons, pens or pencils recycled items string, glue or tape. Hopefully most children will have all or most of these at home and if not maybe you can find something else to do the job instead.

Activities:

1 Create your own superhero

2 Searching for a sidekick

3 Your superhero adventure

These are pretty self-explanatory but please use the link as there are some great ideas on it to help with each activity and a full explanation for each activity too. There are some amazing superheroes to look at and some great art. Don’t forget to send in pictures of your superheroes and sidekicks for us to see on ClassDojo.

One image which you will see on this project Bansky’s ‘Game Changer’ which depicts a boy playing with a Superhero Nurse. Banksy is a pseudonymous England-based street artist, political activist, and film director who has been active since the 1990s. His artwork appears on streets, buildings and bridges around the wall and his work usually just appears in public places. Bansky remains anonymous because his art is usually graffiti street art.

Back in May 2020 the artist left the above painting in a corridor at Southampton hospital with a note for hospital workers, which read: “Thanks for all you’re doing. I hope this brightens the place up a bit, even if it’s only black and white.” It remains at the hospital but will be auctioned to raise money for the NHS in the UK and is expected to sell for over £5 million! Have a look at some of his other work when you get a chance, there are some great pieces.

I hope whatever you do today and this weekend you have fun and enjoy your time at home with your family.

Stay safe, Ms. R. Furlong

Chores and Children’s Mental Health Week 2021, Thursday 4th February, 2021

They say we never really know how others are feeling and it takes nothing to be kind. This week Mr Moran asked for everyone to help out at home. Do some chores, clean your room, sweep the floor, set the table and clear away after a meal, help with the dishes, help with hoovering, help with younger siblings if you have any, take care of pets etc. There are so many different things that each and every one of you could do to help at home. He asked to get a photo of you doing this and send it to the email above for Covid photos so we can see them at assembly on Friday. 

Helping at home is so much more than just doing chores!! It is taking a little pressure off those that look after you at home. It is doing a good deed. It is showing you care for those at home. It is showing understanding that the adults or older siblings at home are under pressure and need some help. It is standing in someone else’s shoes and showing empathy. I have found this week quite tiring and I know that many other adults are feeling the same way. Home schooling can be really difficult, even when you are a teacher and it can last for ages. Some days I just wish someone else would do the chores. I wish someone else would wash up. I wish someone else would sweep the floors.

Help out at home:

Lots of adults are finding this time when schools are closed quite difficult so today I would love for you to do random acts of kindness at home. Be the kid who puts a smile on the face of an adult at home. Be the kid who shows kindness. And then let it become a new habit so that the smile lasts throughout the week, into the weekend and far beyond. And maybe your adults will have more time to do things with you when they do not have as much household tasks to do. Also, you will feel good after you have helped out at home. It is good for your mental health to be busy and do things for others and share the workload. When we give a smile to others it usually comes back to us too.

Squiggle Game:

When you have finished doing your school work and doing some chores to help out maybe you will check out this short video in relation to Children’s Mental Health Week. It is a 1 minute video for a Squiggle Game and it would be even better to share the experience with your parents or the adults looking after you. Here is a link for it:

https://www.childrensmentalhealthweek.org.uk/parents-and-carers/

Scroll down the page to the orange box that says Squiggle Game and click Watch Video. I am giving this link first as it has other activities and some parents may find it useful to have a look at the other resources on it.

All you have to do is watch the video. All you need is pen and paper and then squiggle as shown. And then you look at your squiggles closely and see what you can see within the squiggles.

We did this at home on Wednesday evening. My girl found loads in her squiggles while all I could see were balloons! All I could hear in my head was the song ’99 Red Balloons’! I’m not sure if you know it, if you don’t maybe google it and play it. The really cool thing about this activity is there are no right or wrong answers!! It is just about what you see within the squiggles. Easy as that! We played some nice peaceful music while we coloured and it was relaxing and enjoyable. It was also a great way to take some time out of the day to spend some quality time with each other.

Whatever you do today, I hope you enjoy it and relax and start some new habits.

Stay safe, Ms R. Furlong

 

Children’s Mental Health Week 2021 and The Feast of St. Blaise, Wednesday 3rd February, 2021

Before I go back today to Children’s Mental Health Week I want to talk about St. Blaise. Today, 3rd of February is The Feast of St. Blaze. He is a Christian saint in the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox churches and is the patron saint of throat disease.

St. Blaise was a bishop and in 316 Emperor Licinius gave an order to kill Christians and Blaise was arrested and thrown into prison. While he was on his way to prison, a woman brought to him a boy who was choking on a fish bone that was stuck in his throat. Blaise said a blessing over the boy, who spat out the fish bone. Because of this he became the patron saint of sore throats. Blaise was questioned and later he was killed for his faith. This means he was a martyr.

If we were in school today the priest would usually visit the school and bring with him 2 unlit candles which he would place around the throat and pray a prayed to St. Blaise. ‘Through the intercession of Saint Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from all ailments of the throat and from every other evil: + in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.’ It is believed that this helps to protect the throat for the year.

This year, 2021 there will be no blessing of the throats in the church or school for The Feast of St. Blaise. But that doesn’t mean we cannot remember him on his feast day and say a special prayer to him ourselves. You could spend some time reading about him online if you want to know some more.

Children’s Mental Health Week continues today and I wanted to post this poster again below. It is the first thing I posted on the first lockdown and is a great poster to promote positive mental health.

This is a lovely poster as it shows us how we can feel; good and bad feelings, and what we can do with those feelings or to help us with those feelings. If you can print it out it would be great to have somewhere to look at it as a reminder when you might need it. And remember, nothing lasts forever, not even these feelings.

I have been looking at the https://www.childrensmentalhealthweek.org.uk website at the various sections and ideas on mental health designed especially for this week and I really like the videos. There are 5 ‘I Express Myself Through … Virtual Sessions’ based on Art, Dance, Creating Content, Writing and Acting and each of them is worth watching. They are each about 12 minutes long.

Today when you have finished your schoolwork and you would like to learn more about expressing yourself in different ways I would recommend watching these videos. I really enjoyed the Creating Content one and found it so interesting. Making videos and video games is something that was unheard of by kids when I was younger due to a lack of technology. However, today it is so different and I see short videos made to present projects on ClassDojo and I know lots of pupils enjoy making videos and enjoy watching YouTubers and bloggers. I know others enjoy coding and computer games. Even if you haven’t had any interest before some of you might find this video is worth watching anyway. The other videos are also interesting and some you will relate to more than others, and that’s okay.

Here is the link for the videos: https://www.childrensmentalhealthweek.org.uk/news/i-express-myself-through-virtual-sessions-on-creative-expression/

All you have to do is click into each video when you are ready and enjoy. One thing to remember is that expressing yourself doesn’t mean you have to be the best at something; you just have to enjoy it and use it to help you feel good about yourself. So dance like no one is watching, sing like no one is listening and do things that make you happy.

Stay safe, Ms R. Furlong

Children’s Mental Health Week 2021, Tuesday 2nd February, 2021

Good morning to you all and how is everyone today? Good I hope. This week is Children’s Mental Health Week which is taking place on 1-7 February, 2021 and the theme for this year is ‘Express Yourself’.

I know this initiative started yesterday but I felt it was important to acknowledge the feast of St Brigid yesterday and I hope you all enjoyed the day, and so I decided to talk about this today instead. As I’ve written about numerous times during the last lockdown and again during this one, we are all feeling so many different feelings. We thought about this when pondering the book; My many Coloured Days by Dr Seuss and we thought about the colours we may feel on different days and how we may experience many emotions in any given day. Feeling lots of different emotions during this time is totally understandable and expected. It is important to acknowledge these emotions and learn how to deal with them in a positive way. We need to learn how to look after ourselves and not let negative feelings and emotions get us down and feel bad.

The theme of Children’s Mental Health Week this year is to express yourself and your emotions in some creative way that makes you feel good. For some this is dance, for others it is art, for some it is writing stories and others poetry, for some it is drama and others it is singing. The important thing to remember in all of this is that how you express yourself is personal to you and there are no right or wrong ways to express yourself.

Yesterday I watched the Children’s Mental Health Week virtual assembly which included BAFTA Kids and Oak National Academy and some well-known faces discussing the theme of ‘Express Yourself’. I found it really interesting and I hope you will too so I am posting the link here: https://www.childrensmentalhealthweek.org.uk/news/watch-our-children-s-mental-health-week-assembly-with-bafta-kids-and-oak-national-academy/

It lasts about 25 mins but even if you watch up to the part where the children show their hats which they have made, and other things which people use to express themselves. (Around 12 minutes)

Then I want you to spend some time thinking about how you express yourself? What makes you ‘You’? What makes you unique? What are your signature clothes, hats, scarves etc that you like to wear and are proud to wear? The one thing I love about no uniform days and now Zoom meetings is that all of you are out of uniform and in your regular clothes. It is great to see who you are behind the uniform. We can see more of your personalities shining through.

So one activity the children or young people on the video assembly had done was to create their own hats! They just had to think about what kind of hat really expressed them and their personality and then try and create it. Have a look at the ones they created on the video. I love them and I love how they are all different and show the personalities of the young people involved.

I would like you all to try this activity at home. I’d like you to have a look at the things you have at home such as recycled materials and then some personal items and create a hat that expresses you and who you are! I would love to see some of these hats posted online on ClassDojo when you are finished. We love seeing all your creations, whatever they may be.  

When you’ve finished I would like you to spend some time expressing yourself in your favourite way! What things do you like to do that help you feel good?? Because that is what this is about; doing things to help you to feel good!

For example; my girl loves dancing and especially Irish dancing and she was lucky on Monday to do a dancing Zoom session with her dance teacher. We also put on some music and just danced around the house for a bit and loved it. This is what we often do at home; we laugh and smile and have lots of fun dancing and singing along to music and it makes us feel good.

It is good for us all and for our mental health to spend some time doing this; expressing ourselves in a way we enjoy. So think about how you like to express yourself and then spend some time doing this. Forget about school work and the news and everything, get into the moment and just be you and enjoy.

I found this on Pinterest and wanted to share it today just so you know:

Stay Safe, Ms. R. Furlong

Fhéile Bríde, Monday 1st February, 2021

As we head into February let’s all look forward to a new month, new opportunities for learning, and especially for those who found January difficult, let’s leave the old month behind and look forward to new beginnings.

I am posting today, Sunday 31st January for the 1st of February because I want to talk first about St. Brigid’s Day and an old tradition. Tomorrow, Monday is the feast of St. Brigid. Saint Brigid of Kildare or Brigid of Ireland lived from 451 – 525. She is one of Ireland’s patron saints, along with St. Patrick. There are many legends and folk customs associated with her.

One of these traditions is to put out a cloth or scarf tonight on St Brigid’s eve and it is believed that it will be blessed by the saint as she passes. Known as a ‘Brigid’s Mantel’ or ‘Bratog Bride’ in Irish folklore, this scarf or cloth can then be used as a cure for headaches or sore throats. So this is the main reason I am posting today for tomorrow so you can put out your Bratog Bride this evening sometime before you go to bed. Make sure you have permission to put out whatever you choose and it will be wet tomorrow so will need to be dried!

I know you will have learned about St. Brigid in school before but let’s remind ourselves of the Legend of St. Brigid’s Cloak:

Oil on Canvas by Barry Maguire, Ireland

The legend of Brigid’s cloak is often told. It’s the story about the manner in which she came to acquire the land to build her monastery at Kildare. It is often regarded as one of the first miracles associated with her

She approached the King of Leinster requesting the land on which to build her monastery. The place she selected in Kildare was ideal. It was near a lake where water was available, in a forest where there was firewood and near a fertile plain on which to grow crops. The King refused her request. Brigid was not put off by his refusal. Rather, she and her sisters prayed that the King’s heart would soften. She made her request again but this time she asked, “Give me as much land as my cloak will cover.”

Seeing her small cloak, he laughed and then granted this request. However, Brigid had instructed her four helpers each to take a corner of the cloak and walk in opposite directions – north, south, east and west. As they did this the cloak began to grow and spread across many acres. She now had sufficient land on which to build her monastery. The King and his entire household were dismayed and amazed. They realised that this woman was truly blessed by God. The King became a patron of Brigid’s monastery, assisting her with money, food and gifts. Later he converted to Christianity. It was on this land in Kildare that she built her dual monastery c.470. (https://brigidine.org.au/about-us/our-patroness/legend-of-st-brigids-cloak/)

One activity you could do today is draw and decorate St. Brigid’s Cloak.

Imbolc or Imbolg

Another fact about the feast day of St. Brigid is that it falls on the ancient Irish festival of Imbolc or Imbolg. This was a festival which celebrated the beginning of spring in the old Irish Gaelic calendar. It starts on the evening of Monday the 1st of February and ends on the evening of Tuesday the 2nd of February. Some traditions of St. Brigid’s Day are connected to old Irish culture, and the old goddess, Brigid, who shares St. Brigid’s name. When Ireland was converted to Christianity, some of these old traditions got incorporated into feast day celebrations for St. Brigid.

St. Brigid’s Cross

Probably the best known tradition is making St. Brigid’s crosses. Now I know that most people won’t have reeds at home but if you do there are many videos online to show you how to make these. Here is one such link to watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bq0ci42PnLc.  You could also use pipe cleaners if you have any at home? If not though you could draw a St. Brigid’s Cross and decorate it.

St. Brigid’s Prayer

 https://www.catholicbishops.ie/2019/01/30/resources-for-the-feast-of-saint-brigid-1-february-2019/

To finish St. Brigid’s Day here is a prayer to her. It might be nice to share this prayer with your family today and maybe write it out and draw St. Brigid, and display it for the year in your home.

Whatever you do today I hope you will spend some time watching a video on St. Brigid maybe or doing some art related to her or saying the prayer to her. I hope you will incorporate her somehow into your day as our female patron saint.

Beannachtaí Lá Fhéile Bríde

Stay safe, Ms. R. Furlong

Dóchas, Friday 29th January, 2021

This week, from last Sunday to next Sunday is Catholic Schools Week 2021 and it is the first Catholic Schools Week out of school. It too was limited by the pandemic. The daily themes were as listed above; Faith, Learning, Love, Resilience and Hope. These are the themes chosen to represent the qualities that make up our schools. But as we near the end of Catholic schools week this Friday let us have Hope. It is ironic actually that the week should end of the theme of hope because today we should be bidding farewell to home schooling and school closures and lockdown restrictions but alas that is not meant to be. So we need you all to continue to stay at home from school for the moment. You will have to continue with home schooling for the next few weeks at least and you will have to continue to be our heroes!!

We live in in certain times right now and I am sure lots of you are asking when we can go back to school. Or maybe you are asking when we can go back to hurling or football, dancing or horse riding, birthday parties and family get togethers. The answer for the moment is we do not know! But one thing we can be sure of is these uncertain times will end. We will get to return to school and training and parties and sleep overs. We just have to live in hope that it will be soon.

So today we will gather together at 11am for our Zoom assembly online and we will pray together and join together to celebrate the week that has been, to share your work and your photos and to pray your prayers you have sent in this week. And united as a school community we will be strong and hopeful for a better tomorrow.

Dóchas means hope in Irish. Most times I’ve seen it is has been connected to Ogham art.

Ogham is the earliest known writing in Ireland. It didn’t use letters as we do today but instead it used a central line with smaller lines carved off of it. Usually these markings were made on stones called Ogham stones and some of these can still be found today in Ireland. Here are the pictures of one which is in Ferns Castle Visitor Centre but it was found on the Great Saltee Island. You can see the markings on both pictures.

Apparently someone tried to rob it to sell it on for a lot of money but when they were sailing from the island they sailed into a gale and dropped the Ogham stone into the sea. Luckily it was rescued from the sea and can now been seen in the summer when the Ferns Visitor Centre is opened. (http://www.megalithicireland.com/Ferns%20Castle%20Visitor%20Centre,%20Wexford.html) There are lots more of these Ogham stones to be seen at http://www.megalithicireland.com/Ogham%20Stones%20Page%201.htm

Today and over the weekend I would like you to spend some time looking at the different Ogham stones around Ireland on the website. There are some really interesting ones and even a male female pair of Ogham stones in Co. Wexford!!

When you’ve looked at these I’d like you to have a look at the website for The National Museum of Ireland. They have a pdf with all the information about these Ogham stones in Ireland and all you have to do is click the link below and have a look:

https://www.museum.ie/getmedia/20be02ca-d1b9-4bf1-9d77-fe203c05eada/Ogham-Code_EDIT-(003).pdf

You can print this or just have a look at it online. On page 3 of the link above you will find the Ogham code or markings made to represent the different letters. The interesting thing is Ogham is written from the bottom to the top.  

When you have finished get a sheet of plain paper and card and use the code above to write your name in Ogham and maybe the names of people in your family. These could then be decorated and given as a gift. 

Can you now write Dóchas in Ogham? Let’s have hope and keep believing that we are getting closer to better days. I would love to see your Ogham art when you finished so please post to ClassDojo when you’ve done it.

To finish Catholic Schools Week 2021 I pray for happiness for us all and for brighter days ahead. I pray that Covid 19 stays away from the homes of all in our school community and if it should enter that no one gets too sick. I pray that we can remain hopeful, even on difficult days.  And I pray that we will all be back in school together soon and until then we enjoy our Zoom sessions with our classes and our Assembly Zoom sessions.

Whatever you do today and this weekend I hope you get to make some good memories with your families. Remember, we are thinking of you all and missing you all and we look forward to seeing you all at assembly and in school really soon. Stay safe, Ms R. Furlong

Stand in My Shoes by Bob Sornson, Thursday 28th January, 2021

We have been thinking and reading about feelings and I’ve asked you to think about how you feel and what coloured days you have linked with the book, My Many Coloured Days By Dr Seuss. Now I want you to change this and to think about those around you at home. How are the people around you feeling? Do you know? Do you take time to notice?

It can be really hard, especially when we are all at home and home schooling and out of our usual routines to notice how others around you are feeling!! Have you siblings? How are they getting on at the moment? Are they upset about being out of school and away from friends? How are the adults getting on in your home? Are they enjoying Home schooling with you or is it difficult and a struggle for them?

I wonder how many of us know the answers to these questions and how many of us only know how we are feeling but not others?

Stand in My Shoes, Kids Learning About Empathy

Here is the link to a lovely book: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pS4p-7JVs00

Click on the link and it will take you to YouTube and I would like you to watch the video of the book being read aloud. I think it is a lovely book and it shows how different we view others and what is going on around us when we look outwards at the feelings of others instead of just inwards at our own feelings.

Do you like the book? How does Emily feel when she reaches out to others and realises their feelings and emotions? How does it feel to stand and walk in someone else’s shoes and to imagine how would you feel if you were them?

I want you to stop and think about this and to check with yourself if you show empathy to those around you? Do you offer to help others? Do you ask the adults in your home how they are feeling? How they are doing today? I know we are out of school at the moment but when you are in school do you see the others in your room? I mean really see them? Do you notice the child who eats without talking to anyone? The peers who walk to school alone? Those who stand around the edge of the yard alone? Do you see the others waiting to use the toilet or to wash their hands? Do you see those who need help or do you just think about yourself?

This is a hard topic for us all because we are all probably guilty of some of the above sometimes; of putting ourselves first, of forgetting the feelings of those around us!! I know so many of you are so amazing and thoughtful and kind already. But sometimes we just need a little reminder about empathy. How do we show empathy? Do we really listen to others? Do we connect with others? Do we offer help to others? Do we help those who we may not like? Do we offer to help those we don’t really know? Some situations are easier to show empathy in than others.

Follow up activities:

1) Now I would like you to get a sheet of paper and list the different times Emily shows empathy in the story. Try and remember the story and the examples of empathy as they occur in the story.

Have a look back at the video above and see if you got all the different scenarios where Emily tried to stand in someone else’s shoes.

2) Can you write a simple definition of what empathy means?

3) Next I would like you to write an acrostic poem for Empathy. This means you write the letters of the word Empathy down the left side of a sheet and you start each line of your poem with a letter from the word. See below:

E_________

M________

P_________

A ________

T_________

H_________

Y_________

The poem can be just simple words for each letter above or sentences for each letter.

4) I would like you to decorate your poem. Try to make the imagery on the sheet match what empathy means.

5) Last but not least I would like you to try and be more aware of the people around you, not only today but every day. Ask people how they feel! Ask at home if there is anything you can do to help! Try and be kind and considerate of the feelings of those at home! Try and stand in their shoes and see how would you feel and what you need to help you and feel better. Then try and do these things for them. I’m going to leave this here to finish up with:

Treat others the way you want to be treated

Whatever you do today have fun and take time out for you.

Stay safe, Ms R. Furlong

My Many Coloured Days, Wednesday 27th January, 2021

Happy Wednesday everyone, I hope you are having a good week and if not remember; it is never too late to start over again. If it has been a good week so far then brilliant but if it hasn’t why not take the time today to reflect on what has been going wrong. When you know what has been going wrong you are in a much better position to fix it or leave it behind and start anew.

Some people find Wednesday the hardest day of the week. According to www.dictionary.com Wednesday first came to be known as hump day since at least the 1950s. The expression figures Wednesday, the middle of the workweek, as the hump people get over to coast into the weekend. Throughout the 20th century, Wednesday was especially referred to as hump day in an effort to liven up the drudgery of the workweek. The term Hump Day apparently originated in North America but it is often used here now too. 

Like the puppy stuck on the hurdle last week in my Wednesday post, lots of people find today a difficult day. Me, I like Wednesday because once it is done we are on the downhill journey to the weekend so happy Hump Day everyone.

My Many Coloured Days

I wonder how many of you know the book; My Many Coloured Days by Dr Seuss?

My Many Colored Days is a children’s book written by Theodor Geisel under the pen name Dr. Seuss. It was originally published posthumously on August 20th, 1996 by Alfred A. Knopf, after Geisel’s death in 1991. I have to say that it is not a book I have seen much of over the years but it is a lovely, rhyming book.

If you have a copy of the book at home I would like you to take it out and if not then here is a YouTube link for it being read aloud: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lum83DLPXIw

Before you read or watch the clip I’d like you to predict how you feel this book might connect to emotions and to my post yesterday on the Emotions Body Maps. What colours do you expect to be used to show emotions? What colours do you relate to your emotions? What colours did you use if you drew your own Emotions Body Map to represent different emotions in your body?

Have a think about these for a few minutes before you start and write down some thoughts if you want to.

Then I would like you to read the book or watch the video of it online. There are several video clips; I like this one but you may prefer to find your own clip to watch.

Having watched it once maybe you could go back now and have a look at the colours and the animals connected to those colours in the book! Did you notice these the first time round? Can you relate to any of these animals? Which animal are you today?

Can you name the different emotions and the colours associated with them?

Can you think of a time when you’ve felt the different emotions in the book?

Do you have a favourite page in the book? Which coloured day are you today?

When you’ve thought about these things and named the emotions and the animals connected to these in the book I’d like you to draw what animal you are today or what coloured day you are having today. It is important to remember that all emotions should be acknowledged; there are no good or bad emotions!! It is what we do with the emotions or how we regulate our emotion that’s important. Maybe put on some calming music and relax for a while, sit with your emotions and then do the drawing. There will be no right or wrong way to do this, just your way.

When you have the drawing done you can put it up on ClassDojo for us to see or email it to me as I would love to see your work.

Here is my favourite page at the moment:

I hope you enjoy the book and the activity. Whatever you do today I hope you take some time out to just relax and be in the moment at some stage.

Stay safe, Ms R. Furlong

Emotions Body Maps, Tuesday 25th January, 2021

Happy Tuesday everyone! I saw this poster of Facebook on Sensory Friendly Ireland UK and wanted to share it as I just love it. If you read very little today but you read this poster then you will have done well. I’ve said it in many posts and will say it again but for now have a read here:

Emotions

Emotions body maps are a great way for children to identify where in their body they feel emotions. Looking at the poster above, we can see so many negatives for children at the moment. I know children are not feeling all these emotions all the time and there are positive feelings too. However, it is so important for emotional development for children, and adults, to recognise their emotions, name their emotions and recognise their bodies reacting to these emotions. Children who can do this are more likely to be able to control these emotions also and learn healthy coping skills which are so important under current circumstances. At school we use emotions body maps to map out the emotions we feel. These look like this:

https://hes-extraordinary.com/coping-skills-for-kids

The types of feelings or emotions you should then think about are feeling: angry, sad, happy, jealous, nervous, guilt afraid or scared. You can add others too if you want to.

Today when you have finished your school work and would like to try this then you can do one of three options:

Option 1: print out the sheet above

Option 2: draw out the body on a sheet of white paper and you can change it to female by adding hair

Option 3 and this is one I hope you will try: get a large cardboard sheet or paper and make a large sheet and lay down. Then get someone to draw your outline on the sheet.

So; feelings or emotions are something we feel in our body and we feel different feelings in different ways and in different parts of our body. What I want you to do next is show the places you feel the feelings or emotions on your body! You can use colours to do this or images. For example: I always get butterflies in my stomach when I am nervous. It feels like there are butterflies fluttering around in there. So if I was doing this I would draw butterflies in the stomach area!

Then you can stick the poster, big or small somewhere in your room or where you can see it more often and when you feel something you can use it to identify those feelings. You should also chat to the adults in your life about your emotions and where you feel them in your body as they will see some things that you may not see yet. 

I would love to see some of your posters on ClassDojo and I hope you will try this activity and enjoy it. Whatever you do today have fun, be aware of your emotions and know that we are so proud of you all as you are our lockdown heroes.

Stay safe, Ms R. Furlong

Play, Monday 25th January, 2021

And so another week of home-schooling begins and I am starting to get Déjà vu! It was so great to see so many of you on the Zoom assembly on Friday and I really enjoyed it. So much positivity and so much talent on display via the artwork shown and the music we heard and it was brilliant to see all the photos of you all out and about getting exercise. We are blessed as a school to you all as our pupils and we miss seeing you all in person so it was great to see you online. I miss all the pupils who come to The Nest and I look forward to seeing you all in school soon.

I hope you all enjoyed the weekend and especially the snow. It was so exciting to see the snow fall on Saturday night and to be able to play outside in on Sunday. We had snow here on Friday too and there was fierce excitement. Snowmen filled the internet and photos of children and adults wrapped up in warm clothing were plenty. Lots of people shared photos on Facebook and the one thing I noticed was most people were smiling; children and adults alike.

The weekend brought a break from home-schooling, a break from the worry and stress all around us and the chance to play for us all! I know we had great fun playing in the snow. And play is so important for children of all ages:

Play allows children of all ages to develop their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. It allows them to use their creativity. Play is really important to healthy brain development and children use play to engage and interact in the world around them, especially young children. Play is the work of children and includes any activities that involve self-amusement and is for enjoyment and no other reason.

So with that in mind I would like to recommend play as an activity to do today when your Zooms are finished and the school work is done.

Play

Draw a hopscotch and play.

Get a pack of cards and play Snap, 21, Go Fish or Matching Pairs. Build a Jenga and play with someone else at home. How high can you get it before it falls?

Get out any board games at home and play. Maybe you can learn a game you haven’t tried before.

Get a football, rugby ball, tennis ball and racquet or hurl and sliotar and go and play outside for a while.

Build something from your imagination using Lego.

If you have an old appliance such as a phone or toaster which doesn’t work you could take it apart and have a look at the parts inside. You could try building something with the parts.

Set up Dominoes and enjoy watching them fall.

Draw or create something arty and enter it into the This Is Art competition on RTE.

Set up an obstacle course for a pet if you have one.

Take a picture of you and your pet doing something exciting and send it to Covid Photos at the email address up top.

Try a science experiment like building a rocket.

It doesn’t matter what you do, it doesn’t matter if you play alone of with family members, it just matters that you take some time to PLAY.

Whatever you do today have fun; smile and laugh and enjoy it. Stay safe, Ms R. Furlong

Simple Recipes, Friday 22nd January, 2021


Welcome to Friday everyone. Another school week is just about done and we get to see you all on our Zoom assembly at 11am today. The link will be up on ClassDojo.

Rules for the Zoom today are:

  • Cameras must be ON. No camera, no entry.
  • No walking around, please sit quietly.
  • We want to see all pupils on their screens.

Have a look at the poster on the home page of our School ClassDojo for further information.

I wonder how many people drew their food plate yesterday and had a look at the different foods they eat and how much of each food type they eat. I wonder were people surprised by the results. We often do not realise what types of food we are eating, what amounts or quantities of each food type we are eating and whether we are getting enough protein, carbohydrates, fats, dairy, fruit and veg, vitamins and minerals and water or fluids.

The next thing I would like you to do is to start thinking about the meals you eat. Who is cooking at home? Do you already help to cook meals or is it always an adult? I know from the last lockdown that we had lots of children baking and cooking and we saw lots of yummy things that you cooked. I have seen some lovely bread baked and a delicious looking cake this week baked by some of our students. However, I also know that some children do not cook and this lockdown is a perfect opportunity for children to get cooking. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or extravagant as long as you are learning the basic skills. Always remember to stay safe around a cooker and ask for an adult to help if you need it. Food from the microwave is usually piping hot too so be careful.

Some of the simple foods the children cooked or prepared last year in The Nest were:

  • Pancakes with different toppings
  • Beans on toast
  • Scramble eggs on toast
  • Boiled eggs with soldiers
  • Noodles
  • Porridge with different toppings
  • Cheese toasties
  • Hot cup with bread

Now some people might think that everyone can do these but they can’t and that is ok. This is the time for you all to learn. So I want you to chat to the adults at home with you and start practicing some simple foods so that you can make a lunch or supper for yourself and maybe your family and give the adults a break.

In The Nest we also liked to cook things like gingerbread cookies at Christmas and oatmeal cookies but our absolute favourite was chocolate brownies. We made these several times and they always went down a treat. If you have the right ingredients at home why now try to bake these today or over the weekend.

Recipes are a great example of procedural texts which we learn about in English. Weight is studied as part of maths so this is a great way to do some English and Maths, and you get yummy brownies to have as a treat at the end.

Simple Chocolate Brownies

Equipment:

Digital or ordinary weighing scales

A freestanding mixer or hand held mixer or a wooden spoon

A large mixing bowl

A square or rectangular shaped baking tin

Measuring cups

Ingredients:

275g (1 1/4 cups) softened butter

375g (1 7/8 cups) caster sugar

4 large eggs

75g (5/8 cups) cocoa powder

100g (3/4 cups) self-raising flour

100g (2/3 cups) plain chocolate chips or a bar of chocolate

(We sometimes doubled the ingredients to make double the brownies when we made them for birthday parties.)

Before you start you should pre-heat the oven to 180c or 160c for a fan assisted oven. Prepare your baking tin by spreading some butter around it with a piece of grease proof paper or kitchen roll also works. Cover the tin with greaseproof paper, cutting it to fit it into the corners.

Directions:                            

  • Weigh all your ingredients into separate bowls
  • Cut the butter into small pieces
  • If you have a bar of chocolate, cooking or ordinary, then cut that or break it into smaller pieces
  • Add everything into one large mixing bowl and mix them with the mixer until the mixture is smooth. If you haven’t an electric mixer you can mix it with a wooden spoon until it looks smooth.
  • Pour the mixture into the baking tin and spread it evenly into the corners and smooth off the top so it looks level.
  • Place it into the pre-heated oven for 40 to 45 minutes.
  • Take it out and stick a skewer or knife into it. If it comes out clean then it is ready but if it is not then pop it back into the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes.
  • If the top looks like it is getting too dark to quick then cover it with tinfoil to stop it from burning or going too hard.
  • When cooked you can leave it in the tin until it is cool.
  • When cool cut it into squares. You can size them as you want. Also, some people like to spread chocolate on top but again that is a personal choice.

Remember to clean up after you finish and take some photos and send them to us on ClassDojo! Lastly, enjoy warm or cool.

If you haven’t these ingredients at home maybe you have ingredients to try bake something different. Or your family might bake already, so maybe you can try a family favourite or something new.

For those of you who attend The Nest we miss you guys and we look forward to baking these and sharing these with you all when we get back to school.

Whatever you do today and over the weekend I hope you enjoy your time as best you can. Remember to get out and get some fresh air and some exercise but make sure you follow social distancing guidelines.

And don’t forget to rest and recharge your own batteries after a long week of home-schooling. 

Stay safe, Ms R. Furlong

Healthy Eating, Thursday 21st January, 2021

Happy Thursday everyone. I hope this finds you all well and having a good day. If it’s not a good day then talk to someone, take time to relax and rest, maybe get some exercise or do something that helps you to feel better. If that all fails acknowledge the sadness or other feelings you may have and realise that it is okay to not feel happy all the time. We wouldn’t know what happy feels like if we didn’t have other emotions to compare it to. And like all else, these feelings will pass.

Today I thought I’d look at healthy eating. I see Operation Transformation is back on telly and it is a health and fitness programme on RTE 1 which is trying to inspire us all to lose weight if needed and to exercise to get fit and healthy. I am not writing this to say that any child or indeed adult of our school community need to lose weight. I am talking about it as part of it is based on food plans.

When it first came on and I heard food plans my first thought was ‘diet’!! I thought it was a dieting programme.

But I decided to have a look at the website and watch the programme and realised that it is not as much about diets but about educating people to eat healthy foods and to make homemade meals which are healthy. Part of the website when I googled it has food plans and I was pleasantly surprised by some of the simple recipes online which many of you pupils could make at home for yourselves and others!! I’ll come back to recipes tomorrow.

First I wanted you all to have a look at this:

 

https://en.islcollective.com/english-esl-worksheets/grammar/nouns/healthy-eating-eat-well-plate/56157

This is a Healthy Eating or Eat Well plate. It is like a plate version of the food pyramid which we learn about at school. It shows us the amounts or portion sizes of the different food types we should eat each day. Can you name the different food types? It is important to know that this does vary somewhat depending on the stage of life the person is at.

For example:

When you are growing lots you need lots of Protein. This would be especially important for any of you that have reached puberty especially. Foods that have lots of protein are lean meat, fish, chicken, eggs, beans, lentils, chickpeas, tofu and nuts. These foods are important for your growth and muscle development and they contain other useful vitamins and minerals like iron, zinc, vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids.

Protein also helps your brain to send messages to the rest of your body, and helps create special chemicals in your brain that make you feel better.

Carbohydrates are your body’s main source of energy and these are grains such as rice, pasta, cereal, bread, potatoes etc. They help fuel your brain, kidneys, heart muscles, and central nervous system. They also help you to use fat and protein to build and repair tissue.

Lots of people think we shouldn’t eat fats but good fats are an important part of your diet when you are a child and a teenager! It helps to develop your brain and helps you to reach your maximum growth potential. Fat is also used in the body as fuel so it gives you energy if you don’t have enough carbohydrates and helps your body to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins, A, D, E and K.

Milk and dairy products are an important part of your diet as you can see from the plate above. They’re a good source of energy and protein, and they have vitamins and minerals, including calcium that young children and teens need to build bones and keep teeth healthy.

Fruit and vegetables also give you important vitamins and minerals needed to keep you healthy. They also give you fibre that helps you digest food and helps you feel full so you don’t end up snacking all the time.

And most importantly is water! Water helps us to stay hydrated and to function properly. It helps with digestion, it flushes out toxins from the kidneys and for children it helps you regulate your body temperature. The amount of fluids you need depends on your age, their gender, the heat and what physical activity or exercise you do, but generally you should try to drink about 6-8 glasses of fluid per day. That may be water, squash, milk, juice etc.

So now if you go back up and look at the plate you can see that you  need about a quarter of your food to come from the carbohydrate section, about a quarter to come from dairy and about a quarter to come from fruit and vegetables. The last quarter is mainly proteins from eggs, fish and meat with some treats added in.

I wonder if we all drew a large plate for ourselves and put in all the things we eat each day would the sections look like this? I know that since Christmas and lockdown my plate wouldn’t!! I can honestly say that I have not eaten all the right food over the last month up to last weekend! The portion of treats has been much higher and all the others have probably been lower than they should be. I had to really look at it this week and try and start to make changes to my food plate to try and get it back on track. I want to make sure I am getting all the right things from my food to be healthy, to have energy, for my brain to be able to work as it should, to be able to concentrate on what I am supposed to be doing.   

 I don’t want to take all the treats out of my diet but I do want to find a better balance of food types to eat.

Today when you are finished your school work and had some exercise outside I would like you all to read through the different food types explained above. (I know some will know lots of this, some will have learned it in school or at home, some may be doing it as part of your school work now! That’s okay. It is still worth reminding ourselves regularly about it all.)

Then I’d like you to get a sheet of paper; a cereal box or other box at home and draw a large plate on it. I would like you to draw or write in the different foods you eat throughout a day by grouping them into protein, carbohydrates, fats, fruit and veg and dairy. (Some children may have dairy or meat substitutes so fill in whatever you eat.)

When you’ve done this I want you to section off the plate according to the amounts of each you have eaten and compare to the plate above. Have a look at it with an adult at home. Do you need to add in more of anything such as fruit or veg? Do you need to cut back on anything?  Also take note of how much water you are drinking in a day. The answers to these questions are for you and whoever looks after you at home to look over and answer.

This exercise is about becoming educated and aware for yourselves of what you are eating each day. It is about you taking responsibility for yourselves now so you can grow healthy through childhood and the teenage years. It is not about dieting or losing weight! It is about being as healthy as you can be and feeling as good as you possibly can.

I hope you enjoy sharing the activity with an adult and maybe other children or teens at home and that you learn something new.

Whatever you do today I hope you stay safe. Ms. R. Furlong

Viewfinder Art, Wednesday 20th January, 2021

Good morning everyone. I hope people are not finding the week too difficult, but if you are feeling like this little guy then hold strong! You can make it. I personally love Wednesdays, especially if it is a difficult week, a long week or maybe a tired week as once Wednesday is done then the rest of the week seems to fly in.

I’m feeling tired this week; not sleeping great and home-schooling have added to this but I know this too will pass. A few more early nights and a few less coffees and I should be right again. It is hard as parents to do it all; work from home or at home and home-school, all the while thinking of what is going on in the world and all the uncertainty that this pandemic brings. I am sure children are feeling and sensing some of this too. Remember to be kind to all around you today, a simple thing but it can make all the difference to others. And remember to be kind to yourself too and do your best and know that that is all you can do and that is enough. You are enough.

I was thinking back to the last lockdown and I remember coming across the website: https://www.bbc.com/news/in-pictures-52743922 Have a look at this site if you can and have a look at the pictures submitted.

It is lovely to see the different views from the windows of different people. I think especially for older people right now, it may be the only view they are seeing and will see for a while yet. I wonder how often you all look out your window. I mean really look out your window! And what do you see? How does it change over time? Have you noticed the position of the sun changing? Have you noticed the moon go through its phases? Have you noticed plants come and go as the seasons change? I wonder how many of us take time to really look and see what is happening out our window. This made me think about some art I’ve done before and I know that the children loved it when I did it.

Using a viewfinder to help create art:

When we moved to the new school I remember looking out the window of our classroom and there was so much to see. I wanted the children to look out and really see it too so we decided one day to make view finders. I thought this is something you could try today at home when you’ve finished your schoolwork and had some time outdoors!!

To make a view finder you will need some cardboard and a scissors and some sellotape or glue. (Ask for help with the scissors if needed.)

  • You can get a rectangle of cardboard such as the back or front of a cereal box and cut out a rectangle window from it.
  • If you haven’t got a box you could use some lengths of card which you lay over each other leaving a rectangle opening in the centre and stick or glue the 4 corners together.
  • Some people may prefer to make two L shapes with cardboard and move these over each other to give the preferred size rectangle opening. Whatever you decide, you just need a frame to look through.

Then we decided to use the viewfinders to create some art.

  • All you have to do is find somewhere near the window where you can sit comfortably for a while and draw or paint.
  • Put the viewfinder up to the window and have a good look at what you see within the frame. Move it about until you are happy with what you see.
  • Then tape the frame to the window and sit and draw what you see within the frame. Don’t worry about all the things outside the frame.
  • The view finder helps you to focus on what is within the frame. It helps you pay closer attention to what you are drawing and avoid the distractions around it.
  • Some people may want to paint what they see and that is personal choice.

I hope you will enjoy doing this activity if you choose to do it. I hope you get some time to sit and focus and concentrate on what you see. It can be done out of any window you choose at home and will be different each time you go to try it due to changing weather and seasons etc. Don’t forget to post some pictures of your work on ClassDojo as I’d love to see them. 

Whatever you do today I hope you get some exercise and some time to relax, and I hope there are good moments in your day. Stay safe, Ms R. Furlong

Paint-free marbling Tuesday, 19th January, 2021

I hope your week started on a positive note yesterday and a good start to the week often makes it. And if not then this is a great day to start over again for this week. I wonder did many of you get out and do some outdoor exercise yesterday? If you did I wonder did you take and upload a picture yet. If you did well done! I look forward to seeing them all. If you didn’t then have a look at the ideas I posted yesterday, get out and get some exercise and get a photo to upload. The weather was dreary yesterday and I have to admit that we didn’t get out for as much as a walk so today is the day that we will put on the wet gear if needed and get ourselves outside. There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. Today is the day we start our new year exercising!!

When you’ve done your work and had some exercise I am hoping you might try this activity. It is one we came across during the last lockdown and loved it. Having a 6, nearly 7 year old girl means we have lots of nail varnish around the house here. I hope that everyone might get their hands on some nail varnish at home and remember to ask permission before using this on your Mams, sisters, aunts, grandmothers or whoever may have some at home.

This activity is called marbling with nail varnish.

Marbling is great – you get quick results and you get artwork which is different to what you might create by hand. What is different about this activity is that the end result is a surprise. When you’ve tried it out a few times, you will want to marble everything around you. Again, remember to only marble things that you own or have asked permission to use at home.

You will need:

  • Some nail polish in a few different colours if possible and the runnier it is the better.
  • A tub or bowl of warm water, around half full. The nail polish will float on the water and so shouldn’t damage the bowl, however you’d be best to use something old just in case.
  • An old cloth or newspaper or something to put down on the table or counter top you’re working on to prevent it getting damaged or marked in any way.
  • Some clean objects that you can marble such as a plastic pot like a yogurt pot, a plain cup, a plain flower pot or maybe a candle. Maybe start off with things from recycling such as the yogurt pot and then when you have gotten used to it you can move on to other objects.

 What to do:

  1. Put your bowl of water on a flat surface. Make sure the surface is protected and have some kitchen roll or an old cloth beside it to wipe up any drips and to put your marbled objects on to dry when you are finished.
  2. Using the brush part of the nail polish, swirl different colours of nail polish into the water. If you only have one colour to start with that’s okay too.
  3. Take the objects you are going to marble and slowly dip them into the water and let the nail polish catch or stick onto them. You will need to swirl them around so that you’ve gathered the nail polish on the sides. You might want to wear rubber gloves for this stage, just to protect your hands from the nail polish. Try to roll any flat surfaces on the water first, rather than dipping in corners or points.
  4. You will need to add more nail polish after each dip, depending on how big the items are and how much nail polish they attract. Experiment with different colours and patterns on the water to see how they marble onto different surfaces.
  5. Make sure to take a picture of your art and post it to ClassDojo so we can see all your marvellous, marbled creations.

If you want to watch a YouTube video here is a link to one I like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQAk8Md7Wtk

Here is an image of a beautiful pot from the video above to give you an idea of what it might look like:

Isn’t it beautiful? I think so. I hope you will give this activity a try and if not today then you can always come back to it at a later stage.

Whatever you do today I hope you enjoy it. Stay safe, Ms R. Furlong

Welcome to a new week, full of possibilities Monday, 18th January, 2021

Happy Monday; I hope this is a positive week overall for everyone. No matter what happens this week I hope the good outweighs the bad, the happy moments outweigh the sad and everyone enjoys some parts of the week and if you haven’t already, then maybe you will find a routine that works for you. Our assembly by Zoom last Friday, our first lockdown full school assembly was great overall and it was soooo good to see so many of you online. It was also a moment in history and it was great to be part of it. We spoke about the importance of routines to help everyone settle into home schooling and it is good for our mental health. I’m just going to do a reminder on routines from a post I did last April as I feel it is really important:

‘I really like this sample schedule especially and I have changed it slightly since last time as we are now all doing a Zoom session every day. You can alter it to suit the Zoom you are doing with your class. I’m going to do it for 4th class as I zoom with a fourth class. For those of you who didn’t look at the timetable here it is:

Routine is Key to Happy Children

8.00am-9.00am Out of bed, get dressed, make your bed and tidy your room

9-00-10.00 Have breakfast and do chores

10.00 – 10.45 Zoom  

10.45am-12.00am RTE Home school hub  

12.00am-1.00pm School work 

1.00pm-2.00pm Lunch and play time 

2.00pm-3.00pm Outdoor exercise time

3.00pm-4.00pm Creative time-reading, art, dance, music, drama, baking or more school work for older children

4-00pm-5-00pm Free play time or limited TV

5-00pm-6-00pm Project time: a time to work on a specific project like writing a book, painting, a specific project in an area of interest etc.

6-00pm-7-00pm Help prepare dinner and tidy up

7-00pm-8-00pm Family activity time-board games, limited TV etc.

This schedule or a similar one makes things more structured at home for children and they know what to expect and when to expect it. If you don’t already have one in place it is well worth trying it this week. Children need structure and routine in their lives, especially if we want them to be able to learn in this new home schooling environment. I like the one above and it is achievable for most people. I do understand that some parents are working and this may not suit so make a plan that does suit your times for work, getting up, food times etc. any routine is better than none. And it is so important to have a set bed time and getting up time as it helps children and young people to get enough sleep and be ready and able for learning during the day.

You are our Heroes!

I hope everyone has had a good weekend. I know it has been hard and it is hard not to be out and about with friends, not being able to go shopping to Wexford or Waterford if that it is what you enjoy and basically any activity that you are missing right now due to lockdown!! It really is a case of us all trying and doing our best by staying at home and staying safe, no matter how hard that is. I am sure that lots of you are missing loved ones, maybe grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins?? Or maybe friends and family friends if you don’t have many relatives nearby?

You are all our heroes in my eyes; doing your part and this will end!! We will see that one day soon when hopefully this pandemic is part of our history and we return to a new normal. We will return to school and we will be delighted to do so. We will run on the yard, play in the field, mix with people from other classes, the teachers will get to sit together again in the staffroom and have meetings together in the same room. We will get to celebrate birthdays, communions and confirmations, baptisms and weddings and other celebrations that are important to our individual families. We will look back and be thankful that it has ended; we just have to hold tight until then and be brave. So for all our brave kids, thank you for doing your part!!! 

I was thinking about the photo activity that Mr Moran spoke of at the assembly and I was thinking about the theme of outside exercise. I know that some pupils play team sports and they are off the cards for the moment. We are not allowed to go further than 5 km from our homes. We mightn’t have anyone to do exercise with so it’s too hard?? Right?? No!! Definitely not!

There are lots of outdoor activities we can do even if it is by ourselves and we don’t need much for some of them.

Have a look here:

  • Walking: Everyone can go for a walk. Maybe walk with someone from home or bring the dog if you have one and get out into the fresh air and get some exercise.
  • Running: For those that may be a bit fitter why not try running. Make sure you wear suitable footwear and run somewhere it is safe. If you have always wanted to run, but haven’t tried it yet, then now is as good a time as any to get out and run. Maybe start slowly and go for a short run to start or walk some, run some, walk some and build up your running time.
  • Hula Hooping: Is there a Hula Hoop at home? Maybe you can get out into the garden and learn to hula hoop. Maybe you can learn some new tricks too!
  • Skipping: I know lots of our kids are great at skipping. We have always had skipping ropes out on the yard in the good weather and it is great to see so many kids skipping and jumping rope together. You can get a skipping rope or an old rope if you haven’t got a skipping rope and skip. Look up skipping tricks online and try learning some new ones and this is a great way to stay fit. And if you think it’s for girls only then look at sports people skipping for fitness, especially boxers.
  • Hopscotch: Why not get some chalk and draw a hopscotch set. If you haven’t any chalk maybe use a stone on a concrete surface. You can use a stone or a beanbag or other small object at home to throw and play hopscotch.

These are just some ideas of outdoor exercise you can try today and every day.

Get a photo of you doing whatever outdoor exercise you choose and then send it to CovidPhotos@bunscoilris.ie

We look forward to seeing your photos and seeing you all on Zoom this week again. Have a great Monday everyone. 

Whatever you do today make sure you follow restriction guidelines, wash your hands and stay safe. Ms Furlong

Whole school Zoom and Pointillism, Friday 15th January, 2021

Happy Friday everyone. Time is passing and we are here on the first Friday of the current lockdown. Yesterday we had 76% engagement in online Zoom sessions so well done everyone. Today, we are having our first whole school Zoom during a lockdown and I am so looking forward to seeing lots of you at 11 o’clock!! The link will be posted this morning on the ClassDojo main page. Reminder that there won’t be individual class Zooms tomorrow.

See You all at 11am

Some good news for all you budding artists is that the This Is Art! amazing online art competition for young people, has been extended to help keep up your creativity over lockdown! The new closing date is 31 January at 8pm!! Have a look online for the rules for your age group. This is a wonderful opportunity to do some art and put it into a competition. It’s not about the winning but the taking part and it is something fun to do while in lockdown.

So, when you’ve completed all your school work and engaged with the whole school Zoom session you might like to try some painting.  

Or maybe you might like to do some painting over the weekend so why not try this activity! I’ve always loved pointillism as an art form as I think it is uncomplicated and easy to do so this is my recommendation for today. So, what is pointillism?

Pointillism is the painting technique which was developed by the artist Georges Seurat. Georges Seurat was a French painter and founder of the 19th-century French school of Neo-Impressionism. His technique of painting for portraying the play of light using tiny brushstrokes of contrasting colours became known as Pointillism. It involves using small, painted dots to create areas of colour that together form a picture or pattern.

Here is an example of his work:

 The Eiffel Tower, Paris

You can see that the paint has been put on in dots which seem to come together to form areas or objects of colour.

Here is the rest of the artwork by Georges Seurat if you want to have a look: https://www.georgesseurat.org/the-complete-works.html?pageno

Here is how you can try this at home:

You will need a pencil to sketch a picture, some paint, some card or hard paper to paint onto, a plate or something to put your paint onto and cotton buds to make the paint dots with.

  • To start with have a think about something you would like to sketch and paint. You can paint anything you like such as a nature scene, a portrait, some flowers, your favourite animal, a beautiful sunrise or sunset or maybe a still life.
  • You can then sketch it out on your paper or card. Again, this is personal preference as some people just prefer to go straight to the painting part without making a sketch? Do whichever you prefer as it is your art.
  • Squeeze out a little bit of each colour that you want to use.
  • Use cotton buds to paint in your sketch.

One of the important things about pointillism is that you don’t mix the paints to make a new colour before painting. Instead you use dots of different colours to give the appearance of the colour you want.

For example; if you want to paint a landscape and have some areas of lighter green and darker green, just use green and yellow or white dots for the lighter area, and green and black or brown dots for the darker area. When you look at the completed picture the dots will make it look like dark green and light green. Try this out with different colours.

It would be good to know the colours on the colour wheel; what colours mix to give a new colour. Have a look here if you are not sure:

Also; use white or yellow with a colour to make it look lighter and black to make it look darker. Lots more online if you want other colours.

Remember as we go into the weekend that it is really important to try and get outdoors and get some fresh air while adhering to the restrictions in place at the moment. A walk or run helps to keep us all fit and is good for our mental health too. It helps to get away from the school work and be surrounded by nature at some stage each day. If the weather is really bad then try some simple exercise at home or some yoga or mindfulness. Take time to relax.  If you have worries then you should talk to someone; an older sibling, a friend, a parent or guardian or another trusted adult. It can be hard to be at home from school and missing your friends and it is good to talk!! 

Whatever you do today and this weekend I hope you all have fun making new memories. I hope there are happy moments and that the sun shines.

Remember; stay at home and stay safe, Ms R. Furlong

Thursday, 14th January, 2021

Good morning everyone and I hope it’s a great morning and day for everyone. Each morning I will be Zooming with Ms Doyle Murphy’s class but I will also join in with some other Zoom sessions to see the pupils who usually come to The Nest. Yesterday we had 71% attendance at Zoom classes which was amazing and I know all the staff were delighted to see you all. I know that there were some problems with logging in for some and there are internet issues for others but hopefully we will get to see more and more pupils each day. It is great to keep in contact with teachers and peers and to share this experience during lockdown so well done to you all.

I wonder did anyone make the worry monster from yesterday? If you did then maybe you can upload to ClassDojo so we get to see them and if you didn’t then it might be something you do at another time. We do understand that these are strange times and some parents are trying to work from home and it is not easy for people. I know from homeschooling here today, around three different online session,s that time goes by quickly and it is hard to get everything done so no pressure on anyone. We can all just do our best and that is enough!! We are enough!! Our best is enough!! We just need to keep remembering this!!

Today I thought we might like to try some Garden yoga I found online. Hopefully the weather will be good  and maybe we could all get outside for a little bit to relax and take some time out from the stresses of life. If the weather is not good then maybe go and do this in a relaxing room away from the homeschooling to really switch off and get a break.

Yoga and mindfulness are believed to offer psychological benefits for children and a growing body of research has already shown that yoga can improve focus, memory, self-esteem, academic performance, and classroom behavior, and can even reduce anxiety and stress in children. Considering the pandemic we are living through at the moment and the uncertainty all around us it is imperative to help our children, and ourselves, in any way we can to reduce anxiety and stress. Yoga offers an opportunity for children to get off devices and away from school work pressures.

I found this great printable on the website: https://childhood101.com/yoga-for-kids-a-walk-through-the-garden/

It has lovely poses which are simple to do for children of all ages. Each one has an explanation of what to do and you don’t need to print it if you don’t want to; just bring a device outside with you and read from it. I love to play some relaxing music while doing this as I think it adds to the experience.

Remember, these do not have to be perfect and you should focus on having fun with movement and shape in yoga and this will help to encourage children and adults to take part. Children should be able to do this themselves too so if parents are busy working children can head outside into the fresh air, hopefully, and spend some time relaxing and doing yoga themselves. Don’t forget to slow down and focus on your breathing while doing yoga to get the most relaxation from it.

Some of you will have done yoga before in school, at home or maybe at a yoga group. You may feel the ideas above are too easy and there are many more detailed poses online also. If you want to try some other yoga poses then this is a great website and has so many different yoga pose printable sheets available: https://bitsofpositivity.com/the-ultimate-list-of-free-yoga-pose-printables-for-kids-mindfulness-resources/

Make sure you only do what you are able to do and enjoy the experience like this guy: 

Source: funnyjunksite.com

Maybe have someone take some pictures of you doing yoga and upload them to ClassDojo for us to see.

Whatever you do today enjoy it and stay safe! Ms R. Furlong

Wednesday 12/1/2021

Welcome back everyone to online learning. I cannot believe that we have found ourselves back in lockdown when we had such a successful first term back from September to December 2020. I am so gutted that we couldn’t be back in The Nest in school with you all. We were all in school on Monday and it was so quiet and so strange to be back without you guys. The school doesn’t feel right without all our wonderful pupils and we miss not having you all back in our classrooms and telling us your stories from the Christmas holidays. We are so looking forward to seeing you all every day on Zoom so that is a big positive for us all. I am especially looking forward to seeing all of you who come to The Nest and I miss you all lots. I am sending virtual hugs to you all and we will all be back in The Nest soon hopefully.

Today I am going to give you an idea for some art which is easy to do and all you will need are things at home that you can recycle and some sellotape, scissors and colours. (Always be careful with scissors and ask an adult to help if you need to.)

Worry Monsters

I have a 6 year old here at home who is a real worrier. She struggled going back to school after the last lockdown and was sad to be separated from me after months together. I know that lots of parents may have noticed the same with their children. We had hoped and prayed that we wouldn’t end up in another lockdown as we didn’t want her to be out of school and away from family and friends again. I am sure some parents will know this feeling too.

I was talking with a colleague at school on Monday about this and we were talking about worry stones and worry monsters. A child who comes to The Nest often talks about worry monsters and how good they are so I thought why not make one using recycled materials and hopefully it might help some children to write their worries and feed them to the worry monster.

How to make the worry monster:

We did this at home today and I am adding the pictures for each step below. 

You can use an empty tissue box or an empty cereal box to make the monster.

You could cover the box in whatever paper you want but we decided to open the box, turn it inside out and stick it with sellotape to give a plain box.

You have to cut out a mouth so the child can feed the worries to the monster. We then used the piece we cut out to create teeth.

We used a pipe cleaner that we had to make little antennae and stuck them on the top. We just turned the pipe cleaner around a pen and pulled out the pen to give it shape.

We then coloured in some eyes but if you have some stick on eyes you could use them.

Next we coloured in a mouth and added some fireworks for decoration. My daughter decided that hers was a girl worry monster and she is a good monster and this is reflected in the way she had decorated it. (Remember that the child has to like and associate with the worry monster in order to use it so let them decorate it any way they choose.)

Using the Worry Monster:

We are all living in such strange times and so many adults and children are struggling mentally at this time. One day I feel great and so positive and the next day can be terrible. We can only get up each day and try our best and that is all we can do and that is enough for that day.

So many children are also struggling with the emotions around lockdown and it is so important for us adults to talk with children about any worries, frustrations or thoughts that children may have. Maybe they are have nightmares and can’t go to sleep or maybe they are feeling sad, scared, angry and upset or a variety of other feelings and they need our help.

Having talked things out with children you can ask them to write or draw their worries, frustration or thoughts on a piece of paper.

When they have finished they can feed their piece or paper to their worry monster to take away. It may be helpful too for children to now ‘take’ those worries, frustrations or thoughts out of their head and throw them into the box. Some children and young people may prefer to do this alone and use it as a private thing where they do not have to share with anyone and that’s ok. Whatever suits each child best! You can also name your worry monster.

Here is our first letter of worries being fed to Rosie, our Worry Monster. Fingers crossed it helps!

I hope you have fun making these together at home and I would love to see your worry monsters on Class Dojo.

Whatever you do today have fun with your family. Stay safe, Ms R. Furlong

Happy Holidays, Thursday 25th June, 2020

Wow, it is the last day of school, (well the night before as I write this) and we have officially made it. Made it to the end of home schooling (I hope), the end of being out of school due to a pandemic (again, I hope), the end of such difficult times for so many (once more I hope) and great times at home for others. Whatever you have done for the last 15 weeks; lots of school work or not much, lots of outdoor activities or afternoons in front of a TV or video game, lots of crying or laughter you can be proud to have made it through and reached the summer holidays, 2020.

I am so proud to be part of our school community and I am so proud of you all. We can all stand tall and know that we did what we had to do to make it through and hopefully we will be better people and stronger people at the other side of this pandemic.

So, as we venture into the holidays know that you should all be really proud of yourselves too. I hope it is a great summer for you all whatever you do. I hope you will make new memories as families and with friends. I hope you will all have happy moments and I hope we will all be back together again late August.

I hope we will all wash our hands and social distance and make responsible decisions so we can be together again soon, so we can go back to school at the end of August. Happy holidays everyone and please stay safe. Ms R. Furlong

STEM Week, Themed Activities for the week beginning June 22nd, 2020

Happy Monday everyone and welcome to our last school week for this school year. We are due to finish school for summer 2020 on Thursday at 12. I hope you all had a great sports week last week and that you keep up some of the activities during the summer. We have loved seeing photos and videos of you having fun.

We have a themed week again this week and this week is STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) week.  We have some fun and engaging experiments for you to try at home. As this is a short week the activities are divided into three days. Monday will be exploring the world of science, Tuesday we will be constructing some items for technology and engineering day and Wednesday we will investigate mathematics.

We hope you all have fun trying out our exciting activities with someone at home and enjoy making new memories. We love to see how you are getting on so send some pictures or videos to your class teacher on ClassDojo! Stay safe, Ms R. Furlong

Art/Crafts/Food, Themed Activities for the week beginning June 8th, 2020

Happy Monday everyone, I hope you have all had a wonderful weekend. We had some good news on Friday with regards to the lifting of some extra restrictions and I am happy with them. I think it will be good to get out more and meet up with friends and families and I think that if we all do things in a safe manner and we continue to observe social distancing and good hygiene then things will go well. I am also aware though that this will be different for all families and we have to remember that each family will do things as it feels right for them.

Themed weeks

As people will have seen on ClassDojo; we are having themed weeks for the month of June. This will allow families to do some more fun activities together and the first week’s theme is art/crafts/food. Click on the link below, or copy and paste into the search bar. This will take you to a Padlet page with lots of ideas for you to try.

https://padlet.com/jryan133/gwx3shrszt6quot2

There are some lovely doodle ideas and I love the name ones so I look forward to seeing some of the art you create on ClassDojo. If you would prefer to try something different to the activities detailed on the page you can and don’t forget to send some photos to your teacher to share. It is lovely to see your work so thanks for sharing it with us.

Don’t forget during the weeks of June that:

1. RTE will continue to broadcast Home School Hub on the station’s online platform as well as on TV through the Easter holidays. The ‘virtual classroom’ will air on RTE2 from 11am to 12pm.  

2. TG4 will broadcast Cúla4 Ar Scoil each weekday at 10.00am and provides educational activities through Irish each day. 

3. Urban Rascals will continue at 1.30pm each Tuesday and Thursday this week and can be accessed on the Urban Gym Facebook page. Log in and join in the fun and don’t forget to send in pictures of yourselves taking part at home. 

Whatever you do this week I hope you enjoy spending time with your families. Stay safe, Ms R. Furlong

Sports Day at The Nest, Activities for Friday 5th June, 2020

It’s Friday, happy Friday and happy weekend. Dance is a great way to stay fit and healthy so maybe add it to your to do list for the weekend.

The website I am recommending again today is the same as yesterdays which is: https://activeforlife.com/activities/ there was such a great list on this page that you will get lots of great ideas for today and all weekend.

But I also love this page from the same website: https://activeforlife.com/6-active-games-kids-can-play-with-a-pair-of-socks/

Everyone has pairs of socks at home so everyone should be able to take part in these 6 active games to try with a pair of socks!! They recommend making sock balls by rolling up other socks inside of a clean sock but you can use anything you want to stuff a sock to make a ball. This page is set out for activities indoors but should the weather pick up again over the weekend the same can be done outdoors.

 Another fun activity that kids can be encouraged to do linking in with sports is to make fruit smoothies. Delicious and healthy, these will go down a treat with kids of all ages. I really like the website: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/best-smoothies-kids To be honest though there are lots of recipes online for kids and adults for smoothies online but I am sure lots of people have their own way of making smoothies at home. Smoothies are a delicious way though to introduce fruit and vegetables to children.

Whatever you do this Friday and weekend I hope you all have a great time together. Stay safe, Ms R. Furlong

Sports Day at The Nest, Activities for Thursday 4th June, 2020

Happy Thursday everyone, what a quick week this seems. I hope everyone is enjoying it and both exercising and relaxing each day.

The website I am recommending again today is the same as yesterdays which is: https://activeforlife.com/activities/

If you follow this link you will find a page on the site with lots of brilliant ideas for kids from 1 to 12. You just click up top on the age of the child and the skill you want them to develop and it will give you fun activities with explanations for all. There are a few fun activities with a balloon if you have any and children love to play with balloons. There are fun activities such as cycling a bike, moving like animals, doing various poses etc so there is something for everyone.

This website also has The Active for Life KidActive app now available for free. According to the website, KidActive gives you dozens of fun games and activities to develop your kids’ physical literacy. You just have to scroll through and click to find the perfect activity whether you are at home, at the park or anywhere else.

Apparently, KidActive also tracks your kids’ skill development as they practice different games and activities. Each time you open KidActive, the app suggests new games and activities based on the skills your child has already practiced. I haven’t tried the app yet but it sounds great and I am going to download it to the tablet to try.

Another important thing to remember when children are doing sports activities and having fun is to make sure they are staying hydrated. Plenty of water or other suitable fluids are needed, especially on warm days.

Also, children should be encouraged to eat healthy when they are engaged in sports activities. Why not encourage your children to eat lots of healthy fruit around this time and some fruit will also help to keep children hydrated.

Whatever you do today I hope it is lots of fun and takes us all one step further to getting fit and healthy. Stay safe, MS R. Furlong

Sports week at The Nest, Activities for Wednesday 3rd June, 2020

Happy Wednesday everyone! How did people get on yesterday?? Did you try some sports activities with your families? Why not take pictures and pop them up on ClassDojo for us to see you all enjoy these times at home.

Today my recommendations are all based around physical activity. Here are some great videos for kids exercise online if you want to pop them on at some stage for your kids to watch and join in with. Some children like to see what they should do and these are great to help kids learn and to give you some time to do other things if you need to. The first is a short video and the second is longer; there are loads more online also so you can choose what suits your family.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3Xrtm0IVnY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pizI7eNVSg8

These can be done indoors or outdoors, just remember the sun cream and plenty of fluids to stay hydrated and you are ready, set, go.

Here is a great website for use at the moment when we are all trying to home school: https://activeforlife.com/recipe-for-an-active-day-at-home/

I have taken this poster from the website and it is full of lovely simple ideas for sports activities which use everyday items. You do not need loads of new sports equipment for sports at home, just have a look around at home for items you already have and you can use. And you might get some help with household chores too in Number 5 to make things even better. Whatever you do today have fun with your family. Stay safe, Ms R. Furlong

eSports Week, Activities for Tuesday 2nd June, 2020

Wow, I cannot believe it is June!! The weeks and months are flying by and only one more week in Phase 1 of reopening Ireland. From next week we can travel up to 20km and I cannot wait. I have nieces and nephews in Waterford and we are missing them lots. My little girl cannot wait to catch up with cousins she hasn’t been able to spend time with.

On Saturday I went to Iceland for shopping for the first time since this all began and I was so delighted to be out for a spin in the car to Wexford. It is amazing all the things we have all taken for granted over the years that are important to us now and for me the trip was brilliant. I never thought I would enjoy a food shop so much!!

Welcome back also to home schooling everyone after the glorious long bank holiday weekend. I hope everyone really enjoyed the break and got outdoors as the weather was stunning. Lots of sun-cream needed this weather. I wonder how the children are getting on with home schooling when it is so lovely and warm outside? I know we have been out and about and it is hard to sit indoors and do much work when it is like this. If we were in school we would be spending lots of time outdoors. We would be heading down to The Ponds in The Maudlins on nature walks and playing sports out in the field. Classes would be preparing for Sports Day and school tours. This is the best time of the school year and hopefully it still can be for everyone at home.

As I explained on Monday last week; Twinkl are proud to let you know that they are launching Twinkl Ireland’s eSports Week today, Tuesday, 2nd June, 2020. They know how important Sports Day is in schools across the country so they are taking it online this year! I hope we will all take part in some of the activities this week and stay active. The website Twinkl is free for everyone to access at the moment to help teachers and everyone at home with children. It is a great websites as it has some amazing resources for all subjects. The first link is: https://www.twinkl.ie/resource/t-t-2547476-all-about-sports-day-information-powerpoint-pack

This is a powerpoint on Sports Day and it is lovely for children and adults to have a look through. It will look like this and is free to download:

When  you’ve had a look through the powerpoint I have another link here for some Gross Motor activities to try: https://www.twinkl.ie/resource/t-l-51981-gross-motor-activity-cards

All the documents on Twinkl are in PDF format and it is difficult to download and paste here as they are quite large so I hope people will go online to check these out. Also, there are loads of other ideas if you have a look at the website under sports activities for children.

This is another great link for a website: https://blogs.bmj.com/bjsm/2020/04/13/physical-activity-for-children-and-young-people-aged-5-18-years-during-covid-19-stay-safe-be-active/

Here is the poster of ideas for kids of all ages to try:

I love that kids can do some of these at home on their own and some can be done as online challenges with friends and this may be a great way for friends to connect with each other online. All the activities look fun and can be done by all ages from 5 to 18 years old so something for everyone.

I hope you will all enjoy some physical activities today with your families. Don’t forget that Urban Rascals are back today too as it is Tuesday and this is a really fun way to do exercise and have fun in the sun too. Whatever you do, stay safe. Ms R. Furlong

Happy June Bank Holiday Everyone, Friday 29th May, 2020

Hi everyone, I just came on to say that this is a long weekend from school so we won’t be posting work for Friday or Monday. I hope everyone has a brilliant bank holiday weekend and that the sun shines brightly for us all. If anyone is looking for some fun ideas for activities with children over the long weekend then have a look back here at my posts or have a look through posts from other teachers to get some ideas. Whatever you do I hope you enjoy the break and make some lovely new memories with your family.

Stay safe everyone, Ms R. Furlong

Homemade Camps, Activities for Thursday 28th May, 2020

Happy Thursday everyone, I hope this is proving to be a great week with the sunshine and heat. I hope we will get lots more sunny days like these as they lift all our spirits and put us in a better mood.

Yesterday was a great day because I went in to school and met with Kenzie. We sat in The Nest and drank coffee and chatted about all our kids who we miss so much. It was lovely to see some other staff and it felt like a time of hope, the beginning of a new normal. We watched Martin paint new 4-square sections for all the kids for when they return to school and it felt good to think of us getting ready to welcome all our children back. Okay, it won’t be in the next few months but it will happen soon and that gives us a sense of hope and hope is good. All the children’s bags of books and things are being prepared for collection and the classrooms are being cleared out and cleaned and come September hopefully they will be filled with the sound of children’s laughter and chatter.

But for now; the online learning continues, the home schooling goes on for a while longer but the sun is shining and let’s try to get out as much as possible and do fun things outdoors. There are loads of outdoor activities on my posts already so why not have a look through and find some things that might appeal to your families to try.

I am going to keep this simple today; I loved sunny days when I was a child growing up in town and we loved building camps. Such a simple thing but kids love building camps. We used to be down the back of the old swimming pool building camps and playing from breakfast to lunch and again until dinner. We were outside together having fun and there were very few toys to be seen. Maybe a football here and there, some boot skates and a few bikes but mainly there were eager kids happy to play.

So today we are going to build a camp in the garden here at home; a Den. We are going to bring out some cushions, sheets and whatever else suits and build a camp for the hottest part of the day. We are going to maybe picnic in there or my girl might bring out the dolls to play with? Whatever she decides! It doesn’t matter what she does or what it ends up looking like; what matters is that she has fun and is learning new skills at the same time. Mind you, I probably won’t have a peg left for the washing if she is anything like me making camps!! Some ideas:

Why not try this today with your children and take some pictures to show us your camps or dens on ClassDojo. It is always so lovely to see pictures of the children doing so many wonderful activities while at home.

Also, make sure to add some summery music to really life the spirits and make the experience all the more pleasurable.

Whatever you do today I hope you have fun and enjoy the outdoors with your families. Stay safe, Ms R. Furlong

More Homemade games, Activities for 27th May, 2020

Good morning everyone and happy ‘Hump Day’ as Wednesday is often called. As regards the school week, Wednesday evening usually meant that we were over the hump of the week and I’ve always enjoyed Wednesdays.

A big hello to all our pupils today; I hope you all have a great day kids. To all the great adults helping and supporting their child/children in their learning now I hope you all have a great day too and know what a wonderful job you are all doing. None of us asked to be home schooling parents but we’ve got this and we are all doing a great job!!

Yesterday I recommended some homemade games for your children to make and enjoy and today I have two more to try. This first is a retake on an old classic game that has been played every year on the grant at Ard Na Gréine in town in the good weather. Each summer you can expect to see people gather with horseshoes and a pole and play the game of horseshoes.

It is simple; you throw the horseshoe/ring and try and get it around the pole/cardboard tube. All you need are paper plates or cardboard from shoe boxes or cereal boxes and the tube from a kitchen roll or anything similar such as toilet roll inserts stuck together.

The second game is similar to the paper aeroplane target game from yesterday in that you can use this game to add in some maths while having fun.

It can be made from a cardboard box and you will need some golf balls or marbles or other small balls that will fit through the holes. You can decide on rules for your game and make some of the spaces for the balls to roll through different sizes with different scores as above. It can be played with golf clubs for older kids to practice their swing or a hurl would also work. Of course the balls can also be rolled in or whatever suits your children.

Again both games today can be brought outside to play if the weather is good.

Here is a link for today: https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/09-04-2020-children-s-story-book-released-to-help-children-and-young-people-cope-with-covid-19

I am adding this link for your children to do a little reading today. This is the link for a wonderful book released by the World Health Organisation to help children deal with all that is happening with the Covid-19 and this is a lovely illustrated book about a young girl. It is called, ‘My Hero is You, how kids can fight Covid-19.’ I hope you will share this with you children today and enjoy reading it together. Stay safe, Ms R. Furlong  

Homemade games for boys and girls, Activities for Tuesday 26th May, 2020

Hello everyone and I hope everyone is happy this Tuesday morning. Hello to all our amazing children and especially those who visit us at The Nest. I look forward to seeing some of you guys later today on Zoom. Who would have known when we started school in September that we would all be learning and communicating remotely as we are today? It is such a strange time for us all but we are doing well in phase 1 of lifting restrictions in Ireland and I am so looking forward to phase 2. The chance to travel the 20km distance will make a difference. I look forward to going further than the 5km at the moment and to maybe meeting with some friends, outdoors, all obeying the 2km social distancing for a coffee. Have your families’ plans too for when some restrictions are lifted? Have you friends to meet for a coffee or a play date? I know my daughter would love a play date at this stage being on her own at home. I know that this has been a really difficult time for her, especially as an only child who had just started school. I am sure that it is equally difficult for lots of children.

What about our 6th class boys and girls? This should be a time for finishing up primary school. There should have been lots of rehearsals for the end of year mass and celebrations! I am thinking of you all. For all our classes, there should be practices for sports days! There should be excitement around school tours! We should be getting out at school for nature walks and sports in the field. The field should be open I the good weather at break times for games, soccer, walking around with friends and lazing in the sunshine. For all our children I am thinking of you all and all you are losing out on at this time. I hope you are happy at home and that you are getting time for play, for lazing on sunny days, for nature walks and for fun experiences until we can go back to school. This is always the best time in school when the weather gets good and I miss being there with you all but we will have fun times again for sure. I am positive that we will create a new normal that will be better even than the old normal and we will look back one day and see the positives to come from these times. I think Stephen Hawkins sums it up perfectly here:

In light of all of this I was looking at a great website here: https://frugalfun4boys.com/ which is actually fun games for boys and girls to try and make at home. It is full of so many cool ideas for kids of all ages and is run by a mum so she knows what it is like to be at home with kids. Here is one of her ideas:

I love that this idea uses basic items found in lots of homes and involves no cost.

I have also found this other homemade game on Facebook which again can be made at home using items found in most homes.

Most classes go through the phase of making paper aeroplanes and they can be found flying around lots of classrooms and schoolyards at some stage or another each school year so why not try the idea above and use those aeroplanes to teach some maths. This game could be used for addition but could also be used for multplication. Change the numbers to bigger ones as children get older. Maybe add more holes and more numbers too. Both of these games can also be taken out and played in the garden if the weather is good.

Before I finish I want to recommend watching this video on YouTube if you can with your families, it is really beautiful:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PnnFrPaRgY

It is a short video of the tortoise and the hare who are great friends but who can’t hug right now. I loved it and I am sure your children will too. Whatever you do today with you families I hope you have fun and that everyone knows they are loved just like Tortoise and Hare. Stay safe, Ms R. Furlong

Wildflowers all around us and Yoga Poses, Activities for Monday 25th May, 2020

Hello everyone, I hope you all had a lovely weekend whatever you did and are feeling refreshed after the weekend. I hope everyone got a break from home schooling and are feeling good about getting back into it today. I wonder how the home schooling is going in your homes! Some days it is a bit hit and miss here as when the sun is shining we like to get out and about and do our learning outdoors. On miserable days we tend to do more book work so I guess it balances out. Of course there are some days that we don’t feel like academics too and I think that is okay. I believe that we are learning in lots of ways right now and this is a learning curve for us all and we can only do our best each day and that is enough.

I am hoping while writing this that the day will be good and when the academics are done it would be a good time to get out and about to appreciate all the beautiful wildflowers out at the moment.

Why not take a walk or go check the garden with your children. Children will most likely know some of the more common wildflowers and may not know others. One of the best websites to have a look at is: https://www.irishwildflowers.ie/

It has details of over 800 native and introduced wildflowers found in Ireland and has so many beautiful images. It shows flowers by alphabetical order but it also shows flowers by colour and it makes it easier to find out more about a flower children find. It is an easy website to use and children will enjoy looking at the different flowers on it.

Also, Twinkl are proud to let you know that they are launching Twinkl Ireland’s eSports Week resources today, Monday 25th May. They know how important Sports Day is in schools across the country so they are taking it online this year! The official week will take place next week but I thought we would celebrate this exciting adventure with some Yoga poses from Twinkl Ireland. It is time to get stretching and these will help prepare for sports week next week.

Have a look at these cards:

These are 5 different yoga poses and they have step by step instructions for each one. There is a preparation and safety sheet also for use so please follow guidelines for safety. I know it says 5-7 for age but these poses are adaptable for all ages. These are great to print out and keep to use anytime if you have a printer and if not they can be saved to a phone for use.

Here is the poster then for each pose with an ‘I am’ poster to inspire children and help them to believe in themselves:

 

Each pose is linked to a card above and also to an image for children to hold in their minds; I am strong like a surfer, I am brave like a downhill skier, I am wise like an owl, I am kind like nature and I am friendly like the dog.

I hope when the academics are done today that you will try these poses with your families and make lovely new memories with your children. Stay safe, Ms R. Furlong

Eid al-Fitr 2020 and Getting out into nature, Activities for Friday 22nd May, 2020

Happy Friday and happy weekend everyone! I wonder do children look forward to the weekend in the same way now as they do when we are in school or is that something that has also changed in these times? My girl likes the weekends still because she can have TV at breakfast time and she doesn’t have to do schoolwork, is it the same or different in your homes I wonder?

Whatever way you spend the weekends I hope they are fun and relaxing.

I know that for some of our children and families they are nearing the end of Ramadan. It began on the evening of Thursday, 24th of April and will end with the sighting of the crescent moon on Saturday evening next, 23rd of May. Ramadan is a time of spiritual reflection, self-improvement, and heightened devotion and worship. Muslims are expected to put more effort into following the teachings of Islam. The fast (sawm) begins at dawn and ends at sunset. Some people do not have to fast such as those who are pregnant, the sick, the elderly and children. The end of Ramadan is called Eid al-Fitr, which translates from Arabic to “festival of breaking the fast.” Traditionally, Eid is celebrated for three days in all Muslim-majority countries. There is sharing of meals, gifts and prayers. This year has been different I am sure due to restrictions from Covid-19. We wish all those celebrating Eid a safe and happy time.

On a different note, not everyone is celebrating these times, not everyone is feeling okay and it is so important to look after ourselves and others right now. For those of you who may be struggling at the moment I like this:  

Actually, I think it is important to be kind to ourselves at all times. Today and over the weekend I have some activities to recommend which involve getting out into nature for a walk or just out into the garden. I have 2 great sheets below:

This is a great poster of the different butterflies to watch out for when you are out and about. I know it says April but there are still lots of butterflies around at the moment. This sheet can be printed but if you don’t have a printer then children could draw quick sketches or write descriptions for the butterflies to bring out with them when they go outside. We have seen the Holly Blue in the garden this week and they are small and beautiful.

Here is a lovely poster of different birds you will find in your garden and when out for your walks and it is important for children to be able to recognise and name these birds. The first 5 are so alike and you have to know the detail so that children will recognise and be able to name the different bird.

There is a great website which documents Ireland’s wildlife here: https://www.biodiversityireland.ie/ This website is worth viewing and having a look at all the different animals and wildlife in Ireland.

I have written about mindfulness and being aware of what is going on around us and within us. One way to be mindful is to be aware of the nature all around us when we are out and about. it is great for us all to appreciate the wildlife that we share our environments with. Also if we teach our children to be aware of and to appreciate the nature around us we have a better chance of them looking after our planet going forward.

The following poster comes from this great website, have a look at if you get a chance to over the weekend also: https://mothernatured.com/parenting/children-nature-quotes/

Whatever you do today and over the weekend I hope you all have a great time and make lots of new happy memories. Stay safe, Ms R. Furlong

Gratitude Scavenger Hunt, Activities for Thursday 21st May, 2020

Happy Thursday everyone, aren’t the weeks going past so quickly!! I hope the good days surpass the bad days and that when things are not going as you all wish that you can turn things around.

I know and have known lots of kids over the years that would just love to top both pencils and would definitely know how to turn this problem into an opportunity.

Today I would like to recommend a gratitude scavenger hunt for the children when their schoolwork is done. Being grateful for things help us to look for the good in life and to appreciate all the good things we still have even during these times. Here is the scavenger hunt I have found at this website: https://simpleacresblog.com/?s=gratitude+scavenger+hunt

I love no. 7 above; Find something that you can use to make a gift for someone. Here is the second part of today’s activities! I would like the children to make a gift for someone using the item they have found in No. 7 above. This can be literally anything and will be really unique and personal to all children. I hope they enjoy finding the object, making the gift and then giving the gift to put a smile on someone else’s face. What a lovely thing to do.

I also want to share this with you all: 

There is so much talk online at the moment and offline to I am sure about our children falling behind from being out of school. Lots of people feel that children only learn through academic work, through their school work but that’s really not true. All the things on this list count as learning and these are everyday activities which we have all done at some stage I am sure and yet they are learning opportunities. Have a look through the list and see if you can incorporate some of these activities into your everyday lives with your children. I have encouraged some of these things in my other posts such as getting children to do chores, playing card games, taking a walk etc. but some I haven’t such as checking the weather forecast and showing children how to budget in an age appropriate way so some new things there. I am also going to try these at home here too as I haven’t already.

There is a lovely website especially for kids for the weather forecast here: https://kidsweatherreport.com/report/wexford%20ireland/c

Children can put in anywhere in the world and get the weather report so they can have fun comparing different places.

There is a great website about teaching children about money too here: https://www.ccpc.ie/consumers/money/budgeting/money-saving-tips/teaching-kids-about-money/

There are lots of websites online to teach all sorts of things for children but I am sure lots of parents will have their own ideas on how to do things best for their own families and children.

Of course, we must also remember that children need lots of fun at this time too and the power and importance of play mustn’t be underestimated. I found this this great quote on the website: https://mothernatured.com/parenting/children-nature-quotes/

Whatever you do today I hope you have adventure, green time and play. Stay safe, Ms R. Furlong

Nature Art, Activities for Wednesday 18th May, 2020

Happy Wednesday everyone! It’s midweek again and some days do feel like the above. I bet most people can sympathise with the little bird. I wonder how the affirmations went yesterday and if the children enjoyed them? I wonder how many people had a chance to read through them with their children and try some out. I wonder how many children feel a little better for having practiced an affirmation yesterday and maybe this morning. If it’s been a busy day so far why not take a moment now.

I thought the activity for today could involve getting outside to collect some things from nature to use to make a picture. Have a look at these, I love them and think they are so clever.

Aren’t these amazing? You could go for a nice walk with your children and collect some interesting pieces like flowers, sticks and leaves etc. when you are out and about don’t forget to be mindful and have children listen out for the sounds around them ask them to watch for colours and shapes in the environment. Ask them to be aware of how the air feels on their skin. Then when you get home think about the items collected and how they could be used to make some art. Some of this art looks quite detailed and the leaves are cut to shape but your children can make their art as detailed or as simple as they want to.

You can use card if you have any to hold the shape of the picture and remember; you can use an old cereal box or other food box for art. Then think about a picture or scene that you want to make. Lay out the items collected to shape the picture. It is best not to glue anything at this point. When the picture takes shape and you are happy with it you can start to glue pieces down where they go. When you work with leaves and things from nature they can be quite dry and brittle so maybe collect extras just in case they break when they are being cut or put into place. When you’ve finished you can send it into ClassDojo for us all to see it.

Here is a very detailed picture made using bark from a tree and lots of tiny plants. It is really beautiful but it would be a shame to watch these plants die off when they are used in this way.

Whatever you do today I hope you enjoy it and make some lovely new memories with your families. Stay safe, Ms R. Furlong   

Positive Affirmations, Activities for Tuesday, 19th May, 2020

Good morning everyone, I hope we are all feeling good today. I saw this yesterday and it is so true. I woke up, I have clothes to wear, I have running water, I have food to eat, life is good and I am thankful. Some days are more difficult than others and some days I just need to read and think about something like the above and remember all we have to be grateful for because it is hard to see the good in some days. I hope people are feeling positive and believe that they are doing well and their best and that is good enough.

Yesterday I went into school for the first time in over 9 weeks and it felt really weird to be there, in a quiet school with no children. My room looks the same as I left it but it will not be our usual happy Nest for a while yet. I missed the children being there with their smiles and frowns, their stories and sharing their company. Hello to all our children but especially those who come to visit us at The Nest. I miss you guys and I look forward to talking with some of you on Zoom later on.

For our children who are struggling some days too I am recommending the following activity for today and for everyday going forward.

This comes from the website: thepathwaytosuccess.com and this is a brilliant website with lots of great activities for children which you can download and if you have no printer you can have a look and then draw or write out the ideas in you own way for your children. I would like parents and carers to read through all the affirmations above. Some may not be appropriate to your child at the moment with school out but a lot are. If children learn to practice the affirmations above each day and hear it over and over then they will learn to believe them. Their outer voice will become their inner voice for them. Then write affirmations on a post it or a piece of paper and place it on the child’s mirror or beside their bed. Write the affirmations and put them on the fridge or the inside of a press or cupboard so that everyone sees them and practices them. Some are more appropriate in certain situations such as ‘All of my problems have solutions’. If we talk to our children now about things like these affirmations then we are encouraging our children to talk to us should they need to. Positive affirmations will also make our children more confident and  happier.

I hope you will consider using these affirmations today and every day yourselves and with your children. Whatever you do today enjoy sharing time with your family. Stay safe, Ms R. Furlong

Painting with Tea or Coffee, Activities for Monday, 18th May, 2020

Good morning everyone and welcome to a new week. It is our 10th week since we stopped school and each week brings new changes to how we are living right now. Hello to all our wonderful children and especially those who visit us at The Nest. I look forward to seeing and chatting to some of you this week. This morning begins phase 1 of the process of removing restrictions somewhat. However, there are still restrictions and we are still asked to avoid unnecessary journeys. I thought that the change from 5km to 20km for travel was coming today and was quite saddened to find out that it’s phase 2. So we are at home for another few weeks and let’s all make the most of it.

I hope everyone had a great weekend and had some opportunities to try some meditation with your children and I hope everyone enjoyed their experiences. I really do believe that it will be a great benefit to our children, especially during these times, if they can be mindful and are able to calm themselves and be in the moment. I hope that you will continue to practice mindfulness with your children and your families; because it does take time to learn how to focus and be mindful.

Painting with tea and coffee or making ‘paints’ at home when you have none.

I am very conscious of putting up art ideas which includes painting as I know that not everyone has paint at home. We are going to try painting tomorrow with different colours using ‘paints’ or stains we can make at home. Tea and coffee are probably the easiest and most readily available to most people but there are others like fruit teas which will give a stain and beetroot juice which has a lovely colour. I am sure the children will love trying these ideas.

The website http://www.sciencemadesimple.co.uk/exploring-science/make_your_own_paint  shows the top ten ways to make your own paint at home and guides each step of a painting to give this as the final product:

Have a look at the website and see the different food stuff used to create this picture!!

YouTube  have a great guided video for children to watch with step by step instructions to paint the following using coffee and water:

The link for the video is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3cwHCIsa0o

Beetroot is a lovely colour and yes, it will probably stain. Here is a video link, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3cwHCIsa0o for painting the following:

Both the videos above are really great for some of the older children as they are more detailed and technical.

There is another main stain that can be used for painting and that is chlorophyll. This is the green colour in plants which enables them to make their own food. As most parents will know, it is really difficult to get green grass stains for example out of clothes. https://aroundthekampfire.com/2019/02/chlorophyll-paintings-plant-science-leaf-rubbing-art-activities.html Here is a brilliant website which explains using chlorophyll in plants for picture rubbings but the plants can also be boiled to produce the colouring needed for painting.

These are the other colours you can make from spinach, carrots, strawberries, blueberries and cherries. Why not try some different ones and have your children paint some pictures using one or lots of the colours. Just make sure to have them wear old clothes or aprons to avoid staining clothes.

I hope you will try some of the art above today and whatever you do I hope you enjoy making memories with your children. Stay safe, Ms R. Furlong

Mindful weekend, Activities for Friday, 15th May, 2020

Happy Friday everyone, another week and we have survived. Monday shall bring new changes hopefully and we shall see the beginning of the restrictions being lifted somewhat. We as a country have done so well! We as parents have done so well at home for such a long time under such unusual circumstances!! And our children have done so well under such circumstances, they are all amazing and we are so proud of all our school children, well done to each and every one of them. They are our super heroes. We enjoyed meeting with some of you from The Nest today on Zoom, it was lovely to see you all and to hear your news. We look forward to seeing you guys and some more next week again. For those we talked to on WhatsApp, it was also great to talk to you guys on Video call and to see you and hear your news. It is amazing how we are all communicating and learning new things out of necessity when we wouldn’t have dreamed of using technology in these ways before lockdown. I think we will all have learned so much from our experiences during the pandemic and life will have changed so much, but maybe for the better? I hope so.

For today and maybe over the weekend I thought I would just give you some more very simple mindful ideas to try at home and they can be used by everyone in the family; from the youngest to the oldest.

1st activity: Find a relaxing place and sit. Place your hand on your tummy and breathe in and out five times, focusing on the breath, the rise and fall of your tummy and how it makes you feel.

2nd activity: If things are not going well maybe try this. Close your eyes and focus on how you are feeling. What are the feelings you are experiencing? Happy? Sad? Excited? Scared? What does the feeling feel like in your body? Where in your body do you feel this? It may be a feeling in the tummy or a headache? How does closing your eyes and focusing on it make you feel? Does it help to name the feeling, let it happen and then calm it help?

3rd activity: Close your eyes and breathe in and out three times slowly. Now notice how your clothes feel on you. Are they tight, loose, scratchy or soft maybe? How do different clothes feel compared to each other depending on the material they are made from? Are the tags itchy or have you already had these cut off? Be aware of how your skin feels under different clothes.  

4th activity: Sit quietly outside maybe if you can but inside will work also. Take three slow breaths and then close your eyes and notice what you can hear, taste, smell and feel around you. This is lovely to do in the garden on a warm day.

5th activity: Sit quietly and close your eyes. Breathe in and out slowly three times. Then try and remember a great day you had. Think about the people who were with you, the place you were and what made it so great. This is a really useful exercise to do when kids, or adults, are feeling a bit down with the lockdown at the moment. Remembering a great time in the past helps to bring hope of great times to come in the future and we all need a little hope right now.

I hope you get to try some of these activities today and over the weekend.

I spoke with my 13 year old niece about this during the week and she has always been a really bad sleeper. She has always found it difficult to fall asleep and she told me she now uses sleep mindfulness meditations to help her. Mindfulness helps us to take charge of a busy mind and move it from busy to calm, worried to relaxed. If anyone has a child who is finding it difficult to get to sleep you could try this too. There is a great website about the importance of sleep for children and how it affects them it also has lots of links for sleep meditations. Here is the link: https://educationsvoice.wordpress.com/2017/07/09/mindfulness-for-children-top-mindful-sleep-tips-for-parents/

Whatever you do today and this weekend I hope it is a great weekend full of rest, fun and happy moments for you and your family. Stay safe, Ms R. Furlong

Mindfulness Matters, Activities for Thursday, 14th May, 2020

I hope everyone is having a relaxing Thursday, can’t believe how fast this week seems and I am looking forward to seeing some of you on Zoom later today. Continuing on with mindfulness as a theme this week I am so conscious of the importance of looking after our mental health for adults and children and mindfulness is a great way to help calm us, keep us grounded and in the here and now. It is so easy in the current climate to stress about things, to look to the future with worry and trepidation but worrying doesn’t help or do us any good.

I thought I’d give some more suggestions today for mindfulness activities that kids might enjoy.

Children can play with balloons; they can try to balance the balloon and play a game to try and keep the balloon off the floor. This is a great way of slowing down and being calm as well as keeping both the body and mind engaged in one single focus.

You can also try filling a bag with different shaped objects and getting your children to put their hands in, without looking and feel the objects and then describe and guess what the object is. This activity encourages curiosity as well as thinking about different shapes and textures.

The blindfold smell and taste test is one of I have tried at school before and most children really enjoyed it. Have a child wear a blindfold and then give them a food to eat. Try foods with strong smells to start with such as fruits maybe or chocolate. Try and encourage your children to use all of their senses to work out what food they smell and then taste. Use a range of foods like fruit and dried fruit maybe some treats like chocolate or jelly – just make sure your child likes the foods and will recognise the smell and taste.

Reflecting on the day before bed is a great way for your children to discuss what they have experienced during the day and what they are thankful for. It allows them to tell you about what they have learnt and enjoyed in their day and if there were parts that upset them or that they didn’t enjoy. It is important to keep this a relaxing time shared with your child before sleep. For children who find it difficult to fall asleep why not try an online mindfulness video from YouTube such as a body scan. This helps them focus on their body and being present in the moment and helps prepare them for sleep.

Whatever you do today with your family I hope you find it relaxing and enjoyable. Enjoy making new memories and learning new skills with your children. Stay safe, Ms R. Furlong

Mindfulness Wednesday, Activities for Wednesday, 12th May, 2020

I hope this post finds everyone happy and well and safe. Hello to everyone today. I have decided to continue with my theme for the week; mindfulness. I have an art mindfulness activity today and hopefully people will be able to try it at home with their families. It is a mindful glitter jar.

First you will need a cleaned food jar or a plastic bottle for this activity. You will also need to use glitter that sinks rather than floats. Adding some glycerin to the water slows down the fall of the glitter and makes the mindful jar more effective but if you haven’t any glycerine then don’t worry.

If you don’t like using glitter or you haven’t got any you can use some different coloured beads, a mix of food colouring in water and oil or some Lego pieces you have around the house.

  • To start you just fill the jar to the top with water.
  • Have your children pick their 3 favourite coloured glitters, beads or toys to add. One should represent thoughts, one to represent feelings, and one to represent behaviours.
  • Drop a few pinches of each colour glitter into the water. The water represents their mind.
  • Add a few drops of food colouring if you want to and add some glycerine if you have some to hand.
  • To finish you can seal the jar with its lid or duct tape.

The glitter jar can be used in different ways. It can be used to swirl and notice how the thoughts, feelings and behaviours are all inter-linked. Children often like to sit and relax while watching the glitter rest again.

The jar can also be used as a calm jar when a child is upset. The jar can be swirled and adults can discuss with children how we are all upset with lots of thoughts and feelings rights now. So let’s all take a break until the glitter in the calm-down jar has settled and then start talking again. This helps the child to focus and calm.

For some families who may not have the things needed to make a jar there are smartphone apps available and here is a link to some online: https://www.google.com/search?q=glitter+jar+mindfulness+app&rlz=1C1DSGQ_enIE485IE504&oq=glitter+jar+ap&aqs=chrome.2.69i57j0l2.10077j0j4&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

Whatever you do today I hope it is a calm and relaxing day for you and your family. Stay safe, Ms R. Furlong

Mindfulness continued, Activities for Tuesday, 12th May, 2020

Hope everyone is well and safe this Tuesday. How are all the children getting on? Hello to all our children at the school and a special hello to those who visit us at The Nest. Did anyone try the simple mindfulness activities yesterday? I wonder how people got on with them. Good I hope. If you didn’t get a chance to try them please try today as it is so beneficial for both adults and children.

So why do kids need mindfulness? Have a look at the poster below from https://www.counselorkeri.com/2019/07/08/benefits-of-mindfulness-for-kids/

Research shows that children who practice mindfulness learn how to self-regulate better and pay attention more to what is going on around them. I thought for today I would put up some activities from The Big Life Journal which we use in The Nest at school. This is accessible for anyone online and while it has some work to pay for it has some really great activities and free printables too every Friday. Here is the link: https://biglifejournal-uk.co.uk/?gclid=CjwKCAjw7-P1BRA2EiwAXoPWA2JhA97Zx4iv3GlPIoeTSrYRFR3JuHMT8Ko7diLfKMZgOA6V6YGGlBoCNSEQAvD_BwE

This website also has a Big Life Journal for kids and a teen version which can both be printed for anyone who may be interested.

The first activity is all about concentrating on your heartbeat.

  • Ask your child to close their eyes and put their hand on their chest and focus on their heartbeat. Then ask them to jump up and down or run on the spot or do jumping jacks for 1 minute. Then close their eyes and put their hands on their chest again and focus on their heartbeat. They should feel the difference. Then they can focus on what happens as they return to a restful heartbeat again.

The second activity is all about breathing.

  • Find a quiet place and set a timer for 1 minute. Breathe in and out and focus on any sensations and sounds you hear. Breathe in and out and notice any smells that may be around you. Breathe in and out again and focus on the air going in and out of the lungs.

The third activity I really like is below and it is star breathing. See below:

The great thing about star breathing is it can be done on the fingers of the hand. Open out the hand and spread the fingers apart. Then begin at the base of the thumb and go up the thumb. Breathe in going up the thumb or finger, hold at the tip and breathe out going back down the thumb or finger. This means it can be done anywhere to help calm the mind and be mindful.

Whatever you do today, try and be mindful and enjoy spending time with your family. Stay safe, Ms R. Furlong

Mindfulness Activities for Children for Monday, 11th May, 2020

Happy Monday everyone and welcome to our 9th week since our school closed. It seems like a lifetime ago and this new normal has become second nature now. It is amazing how adaptable so many of have become but I also know how difficult this is and has been for so many people; adults and children alike. It is our last week though in the current lockdown situation with changes coming next week so we can see a light at the end of the tunnel. I can’t wait for outdoor meetings of up to four people from different households to be allowed and I for one will be praying for good weather so I can see loved ones and friends. There is a huge encouragement for us to practice mindfulness with our children right now to help alleviate their stress and help them and us to self-regulate. 

So, What Is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness means paying full attention to something. It means slowing down to really notice what you’re doing.

Here are the basic steps to practice mindfulness and I have taken these from the website; https://kidshealth.org/en/kids/mindfulness.html

  1. Sit in a relaxed, comfortable position. Pick something to focus your attention on, like a word you repeat in your head or your breathing.
  2. Let’s say you decided to focus on your breathing. Breathe normally while you simply pay attention to your breath. If you want, you can close your eyes. As you breathe in and out, just notice each breath. Pay attention in an easy way — on purpose, but not forced.
  3. Notice when your mind wanders away from paying attention to your breath. Maybe you start thinking about what’s for lunch, or whether you remembered to bring your soccer gear, or that funny joke someone told at recess. That’s your mind wandering and getting distracted. It’s natural, minds do that all the time!
  4. Whenever you notice your attention has wandered, gently remind yourself to pay attention to breathing again. That’s how you train your attention.
  5. Keep breathing, keep relaxing and keep paying easy attention to your breathing. Can you feel the place where the air tickles your nostrils? Do you notice how the breath gently moves your body? Can you pay attention to your belly or your chest moving as you breathe? Keep bringing your attention back to the breathing every time your mind wanders. Try to do this for 5 minutes.

To get good at mindfulness you have to practice it.

There are lots of wonderful websites online with mindful activity for kids.

One lovely way for children to practice mindfulness is to blow bubbles.

First get children to blow bubbles using long deep breaths. Ask them to think about how they feel. Then get them to do the same using short, quick breaths and again think about how they feel. Does it feel different? Go back again to the long deep breaths and see the difference. Focus in this is on breathing.The same can be done above with the seeds on a dandelion and many children and adults love to make wishes on these.

A lovely activity we can do as a family is to take a listening walk together where everyone learns to focus on all the sounds around them for the time of the walk and it helps them to realise what they hear if they pay attention to what is around them. 

Whatever you do today I hope you can practice mindfulness with your family and enjoy it. Stay safe, Ms R. Furlong

Space continued, Activities for Friday, May 8th 2020

Happy Friday everyone, I hope everyone is feeling good today and ready to finish off any unfinished tasks from the week. Last night before bed we watched another book being read in the International Space station and once again we loved it. Looking through the website linked below for yesterday  I read another great section that I think children of all ages will love and I suggest you could explore this with your families today and over the weekend.  This section of the website studies Toys in Space and you can watch videos of crew members on the International Space Station investigate the behaviour of toys in space and compare it with the behaviour of toys on Earth. Activities, brief descriptions of what happened during the ISS demonstration, and related STEM links are available also.

There is a 28 page document with so many suggested activities, information about the microgravity used, information about astronauts and Data from the ISS. There are activities with everyday items such as yoyos, skipping ropes and spinning tops etc. There are some printable templates for children to cut out and try activities for themselves. Of course, if you do not have a printer then maybe you could try and draw out the template yourself.

There is also lots of science for older kids and even secondary school pupils if you have any in your homes so it is well worth downloading and printing if you can.

The last section that I just love is the link to https://www.windowsonearth.org/

Everyday astronauts take hundreds of pictures of Earth in all her glory, all over the Earth’s surface and they are breathtakingly beautiful. From cities at night to cloud patterns and sunrise and sunsets, each picture is more amazing than the one before. I would love for the children to see some of these images over the weekend, to see that no matter what is happening right now here on Earth it is so amazing. When viewed through the lens of an astronaut our planet is stunning, and our kids can have an opportunity to see what they see. Here is a mystery image of the day:

Whatever you do today and this weekend please enjoy it and stay safe. Ms R. Furlong

Space, Activities for Thursday 7th May, 2020

Good morning everyone. I hope today is a great day for you all. Last night before bed we watched a real astronaut read a book in her space station and we loved it. Here is the website: Https://www.spacestationexplorers.org/educational-programs/storytimefromspace

This website which is from the International Space Station, US laboratory, promotes Story Time From Space and you can watch videos of different astronauts reading in outer space. As described on the website this is a great opportunity for children and adults alike to watch astronauts on the Space Station read children’s books and perform science demonstrations! Story Time from Space offers a great combination of science, literacy and entertainment through family-friendly videos. We loved that the astronaut’s hair was floating and the amount of wires all around her. The website also offers opportunities for children and adults to take part in interesting science experiments and activities at home just like astronauts do on the space station to help out during a time when so many children on Earth are being home schooled.

Not only that, for anyone interested in learning more about the International Space Station they can use the ISS Above web portal to follow the International Space Station as it orbits the Earth!

This is a great resource for children of all ages and is so educational in a really fun and interesting way. My suggestion for today is to have your kids explore the website and watch the story being read on the ISS and ignite their curiosity so that hopefully they will want to explore more about outer space and the work and experiments taking place in outer space.

Whatever you do today I hope you enjoy making memories with your family. Stay safe, Ms R. Furlong

Kindness Rocks, Activities for Wednesday 6th May, 2020

Welcome back everyone to a short school week after our bank holiday weekend. I hope everyone enjoyed the weekend, took some time to rest and recharge and is ready for a short week of schoolwork. Hopefully we will see some sunshine this week and be able to get out walking, especially as we can now venture to a 5km radius of our homes. It will be great to go that bit further from this week on. We also now know that we will not be returning to school until September 2020 so we will be working in this new school way for the rest of our school year.

To all my kids who come to visit us at The Nest I want to tell you all that I miss you all and look forward to seeing you all on Zoom or WhatsApp, to hearing your voices and to sharing our stories. And I miss all the amazing children from our school that we have the pleasure to call our pupils. I love seeing so many great pictures of all the work and activities you are doing at home. I have seen so many amazing projects, wonderful artwork, baked goods, exercising photos to Urban Rascals and I am so proud of you all whatever you are doing; you are all heroes in my eyes during these times. Now that we have a staged approach for reopening our country it gives us some hope, we will see loved ones soon, we can walk a little further and we can get together with friends in small groups in the next few weeks. I just hope we can all follow guidelines so that this all happens and we get to each stage when we should without having to stop or go back. But for now I am grateful to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Kindness Rocks

It is hard to keep going some days, to stay positive, to keep our chins up and last night I saw a wonderful video on Facebook by RTE and it is linked here: https://www.facebook.com/rtenews/posts/3465764590119185

It is a lovely video to watch with your children and it brings us positive news in a difficult time.

This is a lovely initiative that is set up in many places called Kindness Rocks. At the moment lots of people are trying to get out of the house and go for a walk. It describes how hundreds of painted rocks with messages of positivity have appeared around some suburbs of Dublin. It’s part of a hiding and hunting game with both the children and adults taking part sharing their discoveries on Facebook.

A few weeks ago my daughter and I decided to look in the garden for rocks and paint them outside one lovely evening and I thought that it would be a lovely idea to write simple positive words on them and later today we will take a walk around where we live and leave them out for people to see who are out walking. We will spray and disinfect the rocks and leave them in full view so people can just admire them as they pass. Obviously in these times we hope that people will do just that; admire them as they pass and leave them where they are for others to see. Here are some of ours:

This is a lovely idea for children to try at home today. They don’t need paint as they could just wash their rocks well and write a message on them with marker and decorate them if they have no paint. A little message of kindness goes a long way and may bring a smile and some happiness to others.

Whatever you do today I hope you enjoy spending time with your families and make lots of new memories together. Stay safe, Ms R. Furlong.

May Day, Activities for 1st May, 2020

Welcome to the month of May everyone and I hope it is a month full of happiness despite difficulties, special moments and wonderful memories. I hope any tears shed this month are from laughter, every corner brings a happy surprise and every day brings a smile to you and your loved ones.

May 1st is one of only 4 cross-quarter days, meaning it falls between a solstice and equinox. Today begins May and this Monday marks May Day here in Ireland.  May Day is a public holiday usually celebrated on 1 May around the world but not in every country. It is an ancient Northern Hemisphere spring festival and a traditional spring holiday in many cultures. Dances, singing, and cake are usually part of the festivities.

In Ireland May Day has been celebrated since pagan times as the feast of Beltane (Bealtaine is the Irish word for May) and in latter times as Mary’s day. Traditionally, bonfires were lit to mark the coming of summer and to banish the long nights of winter. Officially Irish May Day holiday is the first Monday in May. Old traditions such as bonfires are no longer widely observed, though the practice still persists in some places across the country. Limerick, Clare and many other people in other counties still keep on this tradition, including areas in Dublin city such as Ringsend. (https://kids.kiddle.co/May_Day)

In some places May Day marks the first day of summer. It signals the start of turf cutting and a busy period on the farm. Years ago in Ireland on May 1st, tenant farmers used to pay their half-yearly rent to landlords, farm labourers were hired, people took stock of their food supply and Kilkenny women gave men new hurling balls.

May Day traditions are mostly associated with luck and protection. The May bush is one such tradition; it is a hawthorn bush covered in ribbons, coloured Easter egg shells and cloth streamers. It was associated with the luck of a house or a community. In rural areas it was left outside the house while in towns it was placed in a communal area. Throughout Munster, a larger part of a tree was used, known as the May bough. (https://www.farmersjournal.ie/may-day-traditions-157153)

We had made an Easter tree which we do each year and it will be changed into a May bush on Monday when we will add lots of ribbons and cloth rags ripped from old clothes which have gone too small or are of no use any more. Each year there is a May bush decorated at the roundabout for O’Neills shop at The Three Bullet Gate and I have loved seeing it herald in May each year. I wonder will it be there this year? 

Here is our Easter tree all ready for a few new ribbons and hopefully it will bring lots of luck to our home and all who live and visit it. We didn’t use a hawthorn bush because of the thorns with our little girl. I think you can use any bit of branch that you find if you wanted to create one at home with children.

Another tradition in some countries is dancing around a May pole which I am sure most people have heard of before. Why not look up some different May Day traditions with your children from different countries around the world. Use the link if you want to see more: (https://kids.kiddle.co/May_Day)

Making a May Bush: I thought as it’s the long weekend leading into May Day that our activities for today would be linked in. My first activity is making a May Bush. As I said above you could get a branch and decorate it at home with some ribbons or old rags. You can add eggs which can be Easter egg decorations or get the children to draw some eggs and cut them out. Your May Bush doesn’t have to be that big and I am sure the neighbours if you have any will enjoy seeing it in your garden brightening up the area.

If you can’t find an old branch just decorate a bush in your garden in a similar way. And if you have no bush in the garden either you could get children to draw and colour a May Bush. They can use any materials such as markers, crayons paints etc. When the May Bush is finished they can put it in a window where people passing can see it and it will bring a smile to others as they pass by.

How to Grow a Rainbow Experiment: Another lovely activity to do is this ‘How to grow a rainbow’ experiment and involves some fun science for children. Here is the experiment explained on this sheet:It comes from the following link on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mrsbpristem/status/1244533958517428224

It is a lovely experiment to try with kids of any age. Then when it is dry it can be displayed somewhere to add some colour to everyone’s day.

The next thing I would like to encourage your children to do is to take part in the Cherry Blossom competition which Ms S. Ryan is running. There are 5 prizes of various art supplies, one for each year group in our school. Ms S. Ryan has donated some prizes and Barrow Office Supplies have also kindly donated some prizes. All the children have to do is draw or create a piece of art which shows cherry blossoms. There is a tutorial on the ClassDojo home page which is lovely to view. All you have to do then is take a picture of your work and send to J. Ryan on ClassDojo. Some gorgeous entries already in and we can’t wait to see many more.

There are lots of other fun ideas for art and crafts from other countries online to try over the weekend too. If you are looking for activities for children why not go back through these posts and find something that you haven’t already tried.

Remember to also take some time out and relax and recharge over the long weekend. I know that this will be a difficult long weekend for some as we face staying at home so look after yourselves. Whatever you do this Friday and this Bank Holiday weekend I hope it is fun and safe and I hope you enjoy creating new memories with your family. Happy May everyone, stay safe. Ms R. Furlong

Goodbye April and Where The Wild Things Are Drawings, 30th April, 2020

 

Good morning everyone, I hope you are all well and keeping safe with your families. I can’t believe we are on the last day of April. It seems like it has been April for such a long time and we have managed to stay at home for the whole month; let’s hope we won’t be staying the same at the end of May. But April has been kind in its own way; we are here to greet the end of April, while there have been lives lost and we send condolences to all those who are left grieving, we have managed to flatten the curve and we are closer to the end of all this. We have seen people pull together so much for the good of others. We have raised money for 4 nursing homes for the elderly last weekend while walking 5km and donating and €17445 was raised to date. We have a lovely family from our school community who are making lots of pieces of art to give to people who donate to a Go Fund Me for the local Community Hospital. (The link is above at No. 6) Community groups have got together to help support those more vulnerable in our community by doing their shopping and getting prescriptions and other things they may need. We have seen local businesses supporting our school with gifts to use as prizes for Urban Gym Rascals. I have watched people support each other online and encourage each other when they are feeling down. We are seeing beautiful pictures and videos of animals roaming in the now near empty streets of different villages, towns and cities. Our world is taking time to heal. Those of us who are not frontline workers are getting to spend lots of time with our families, we are getting to know our children better, we are struggling some days with schoolwork but hopefully we are enjoying the little moments. I see lots of baking and cooking and art and crafts happening among our school community. I have seen loads of great project work and fun engaging with Urban Rascals. So while it has been a difficult April, it has also many positives and we should acknowledge these.

Where the Wild Things Are

I have been looking at some lovely, simple art ideas on the following website: http://www.mrspicassosartroom.com/ (Also on Facebook) This is a great website and link on Facebook as she does Live art classes and talks people through the art activity. The idea for today is from the Live Art Class 15 which is about making A Wild Thing. The activity is based on the book, Where the Wild Things Are which is a 1963 children’s picture book by American writer and illustrator Maurice Sendak. It was also made into a film of the same name in 2009. Maybe you could look it up and watch the film together as a family on one of these rainy days.

Book cover:

Film:

I love how the materials needed are all things you would find in most homes and some need nothing other than paper and colouring materials. If you have Facebook you can have a look at the video online. If not all you have to do is look at the three cheat sheets below:

So the idea is simple, you use the sheets above to help you draw a Wild Thing. Draw a large basic outline for your Wild Thing. Then pick the visual texture of your wild thing from the first sheet above and create the body. Then you use the middle page for the nose and other body parts you want to add. Lastly, you pick and draw the eyes. Then you colour it in whatever way you want; crayons, markers or paint. You can cut it out and mount it on a coloured sheet or background and if not you can just decorate the background whatever way you want.

Of course, lots of our children are extremely creative themselves and may just want to design and create their own Wild Thing. Make sure to upload pictures of all your Wild Things of ClassDojo for us to see. There are lots of other lovely art ideas on the page and why not like and follow Mrs Picasso’s Art on Facebook and draw along or create along with her. I think these online art lessons are wonderful for children and adults alike.

If you are looking for something to keep everyone busy and moving at home then I thought I would add this in today.

I know some people may have seen it already on ClassDojo, but if not then you may like to use it. You may want to print it but if not then it can be followed on a phone or tablet or other electronic device. And this can be used time and time again and you could shuffle the activities if you want to. Healthy body helps promote a healthy mind and it is so important to look after our own mental health and that of our children and families during these times.

Whatever you do today, I hope you enjoy your day and make lovely new memories with your families. Stay safe, Ms R. Furlong

Wind chimes, Activities for Wednesday, 29/4/2020

Good morning everyone, I hope everyone is well and safe today. I love the quote above and I like to think that I am doing a good job with my little girl at home during this time. I am not getting it all right but I am trying my best and that is good enough for today. To the world I may be one person but to my daughter I may be the world. Sometimes she just wants me to hold her and hug her and that’s all some of our children want or need right now. They need to see our calm in the moment, they need to see us coping and getting on with each day and they need to see that we are not perfect but we are human, full of emotions and feelings. They need us also to acknowledge our negative emotions, to tell them when we are sad and struggling and to tell them know that these emotions are normal and totally acceptable under the circumstances. They need to be able to feel and share their own emotions knowing that we will understand and accept them and help them to deal with them. I hope all our children are coping under the circumstances and I am thinking of them all during this time. Tell them I said hello.

Today I want to suggest making a wind chime as an activity to do when the academics are finished. I love wind chimes and I love the sound when the breeze blows gently through them. I find them calming and I love to sit and listen to them chime in the summer breeze. I also love seeing them hang around the house with lots of beautiful colours, especially at this time of year and when the sun is out.

There are many ways to make homemade wind chimes; it just depends on what you have at home in your recycling. We have lots of food tins, lids for glass jars, plastic lids, sticks of various lengths in the garden and shells. We collected shells last year and washed them to put in the garden but never did. I understand that people may not have much art materials at home but hopefully you will have some items. You will also need wool or string or thread of some sort for hanging things.

Here are some ideas for wind chimes:

Key wind chime

This is a really simple idea and is made from old keys which are painted and hung from a painted stick. Even if you have no paint if you wash old keys well and have them shiny then they can be hung from any stick and will look great shining in the sunlight.

Shell wind chime

This is a great image I found online and I love the idea of painting or colouring shells with markers or just hanging them in their natural form. They will need to have little holes put in them and will probably need some adult assistance for some children. You can use a paper cup, an old food tin or a large plastic lid to hang them from. If not you could hand them like the keys above from a stick.

Plastic lid wind chime

This is another great idea for all the plastic lids from milk cartons, juice and other cartons and lids from mineral bottles or others. Again, you will need to add holes through the lids and these are separated out with beads but you can just add knots to the string to separate out the lids.

Tin can wind chime

This is more of an idea for older children but either way this will need adult supervision as you need to put holes in the bottom of each food tin with a hammer and nail. The tins can be decorated and then hung at different levels from each other but within reach of each other to chime. 

Metal lid wind chime

This can also be done above but with metal lids from food jars. Again, you will need a hammer and nail or a sharp object to pierce a hole in the top so adult supervision is needed.

Cutlery wind chime

If you have none of these items above at home why not use some spoons, knives or forks. If they are hung at various heights from a stick or a hanger they will chime in the breeze too. Just be careful when children are handling them that they do not hurt themselves so adult supervision is needed. Just tie the string around the top of each one, no need for piercing holes though and they are done.

Also, the very first wind chime image I added is one of wooden spoons and other wooden implements. I know we have some of these in a drawer that don’t really get used much and these make great wind chimes too. They are just hung with twine or string as in the picture and wood on wood is a lovely sound.   

I know some of these won’t make much music when the breeze passes through but they will all look beautiful hanging in the garden. You just need to get your children to pick where to hang their new wind chimes and help them to hang it securely and wait for the breeze. Of course, these can also be hung indoors if you don’t have a suitable outdoor place and they will add colour to your home or your child’s room. They are great placed near a window where they will chime when the window is open.

Don’t forget to upload some pictures of your child’s work to ClassDojo. We have seen lots of amazing artwork from the children of our school and we are so proud of all them. It is lovely to see how they are getting on at home and it helps us stay connected to your child during this time.

Whatever you do or make today enjoy your day and enjoy making memories with your children. Stay Safe, Ms R. Furlong

 

 

Lockdown Time Capsule, Activities for Tuesday, 28/4/2020

Hi to everyone today, I hope everyone is in good form and ready for some fun activities when the academics are done. Hopefully today’s activity will bring a smile to you all today and again in years to come. 

Firstly, our home is going to run a little different today as we are having a very special day in our family. Today my daughter turns 6 and to some people it is such a minor thing considering what is going on in the world but to her it is so important. She is in junior infants so we had booked the first birthday party for her school friends back in January and she was so excited.  She is feeling sad but we have tried explaining and while she understands somewhat, it doesn’t take from the disappointment. Now instead she gets to celebrate with me and her Dad so we are going to try our best to make it as happy as possible and fill it with wonderful memories. 

This is a side effect of this Covid-19!! All our children who have birthdays during the lockdown are missing out on celebrating with peers at school. There is no class singing happy birthday. (I know this happens for some children anyway in the summer and school holidays.) There are no birthday parties and they are missing the hugs of grandparents and other family members which mean even more on their special day.

Our children at school who were due to receive the sacrament of Confirmation on Saturday last have had to have it postponed, not knowing when it will now happen. Our children in the junior school and other schools who were due to make their First Holy Communion in the coming weeks are in a similar position. We have people who should be getting married and they have had to cancel and sit waiting to figure out when they can reschedule for. People have had to put their lives, their celebrations and their special days on hold because of this pandemic. I know life is so much worse for some right now but I still want to acknowledge those affected in these ways.  

So to all our children who are celebrating birthdays at home without extended family and friends I wish you all a really happy birthday. I hope you realise though that you are living through history right now and hopefully you can look back and share the story of your unusual birthday in years to come. To all others with cancelled occasions I hope you can all reschedule one day soon. But ultimately I hope we will all be here to celebrate when the restrictions are lifted; that there are no absent family or friends and that we will all be grateful for the new day. Maybe we can all take a moment with our children today to acknowledge again all those who are working tirelessly and who may be putting their own lives at risk during these times for us all and say ‘Thank You’.

My suggestion for today is to make a Lockdown Time Capsule

Today for my little family is all about making our girl’s day as special as we can, taking lots of photos to share with family online and making special memories for her and with her. It is also about being grateful for her in our lives and for the joy she brings to us each and every day, even when she is having her difficult moments. We are going to make a Lockdown Time Capsule on this special day to put away and open one day down the line. It will be interesting to open it in the future and remember what life was like here and now. Hopefully you will all take some time today to also make Lockdown Time Capsules with your children. 

There are many things you could include such as:

  • A letter to whoever opens your capsule or a letter to your future self if the child is old enough to write one.
  • If the child is too young to write a letter then this could be a letter maybe from a parent to a child or a drawing done by a child with a few lines scripted by an adult for the child.
  • A newspaper clipping or print a news article from the Internet.
  • Actual work or photos of work completed at home while schools are closed.
  • Evidence of games or activities you did as a family.
  • Some diary entries done over a period of time or added weekly.
  • A record of any special memories such as clapping for frontline workers, clapping for all our hero children or artwork done and put into windows to brighten up other people’s day.
  • A thank you note for all our frontline workers whatever job they may be doing.
  • A handprint tracing of everyone in the family.
  • A 2020 dated coin if you can get one.
  • Some funny items such as a couple of bits of clean toilet paper and a hand wipe as a reminder of how people were panic buying.
  • Some artwork completed or sheets from games played and maybe items such as a deck of cards used while on lockdown.
  • A copy of the yellow information booklet sent to all houses in the last few weeks.

You can add whatever you want or your children want and make it personal to your own experiences. Then you get the actual time capsule container which can be a box of any kind which is decorated by the child or children. A shoe box or cereal box can be used for this or a box can be made from card if you don’t have one. Once you have gathered everything together and made sure it is all dated, you could place them safely into the time capsule.

One thing we usually do in The Nest when we are doing any activity is we play some nice relaxing music which helps us focus and makes the activity more enjoyable.

You then need to decide where you are going to place your time capsule. For us we are going to do the main part of it today but leave it open to add to it until the restrictions are lifted and then seal it. If you are like me you may want to record where you have put it and create a map and a set of instructions for whoever ‘digs up’ the capsule in the future if you bury it. If you are going to put it away safely then have some instructions taped to the outside for the finder.

Of course, there are free printable sheets online for people if they would rather have a framework to use and you can get these at the website: https://www.kiddycharts.com/printables/free-covid-19-time-capsule-worksheets/

I got the idea for the time capsule from the sheet I am adding below. It is a sheet of activities for older kids to do over the next few weeks but it can be adapted to children of most ages. I know that the interests of older kids are more varied and they may not be interested in some of those art ideas but this list has lots of interesting ideas to do for older kids and adults alike and they can be altered to fit all abilities. The sheet is taken from Playboard Northern Ireland on Facebook.

As it happens I have suggested some of the things that are on this sheet already in the last 6 weeks and may suggest more going forward but it may be worth giving to older kids and letting them pick and choose things they might like to do now.

Whatever you do today with your children I hope you enjoy making new memories with them.

I hope today is an amazing day for everyone. Stay safe, Ms R. Furlong

Alice in Wonderland and Salvador Dali Art, Activities for Monday 27/4/2020

Welcome back to week 7 of home schooling. I hope everyone has had a lovely weekend and has taken some time out to just relax and be in the moment. A big hello to all our children, and especially those who come to The Nest. Thinking of you all and hoping you are all well.

This weekend we watched the film, ‘Alice in Wonderland’. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (commonly shortened to Alice in Wonderland) is a very famous 1865 novel written by English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. It is hard to believe it is 155 years old and still enjoyed today. The book has been translated into 97 languages and has never been out of print which is quite amazing.

This book is based in a fantasy land and on the surface it is the story of a girl who disappears down a rabbit hole to a fantastic place full of bizarre adventures. She drinks potions which cause her to shrink and grow and she talks to animals. It has the wonderful and crazy characters March Hare, The Mad Hatter, The Cheshire Cat and of course; The Queen of Hearts. I love the scene from The Mad Hatters tea party.

When I was watching this I was thinking about how surreal it all was but how fitting it is to the times we are living it right now. I am finding life quite surreal at the moment when I think about the facts that we can’t go out except for essentials, we can’t visit loved ones, we can’t hug older parents or grandparents who are cocooning and it got me thinking to the artist Salvador Dali.

Salvador Dali is a famous artist who was born in Figueres, Spain on May 11, 1904. His father was a lawyer and he was very strict on Salvador. His mother though was apparently much kinder and encouraged Salvador’s love for art. Growing up he enjoyed drawing and playing football. He often got into trouble for daydreaming in school. Some of his most well-known pieces of art are below with the year that each was painted:

Persistence of Memory, 1931

 

The Elephants, 1948

Galatea of the Spheres, 1952

Melting Watch, 1954

 

Living Still Life, 1956

Meditative Rose, 1958

Surrealism 

Salvador Dali is known for his surrealist art. Dali’s art was often inspired by dreams, and he even described his paintings as ‘dream photographs’. He put different things together in his art that you wouldn’t find in the real world and you wouldn’t expect to see together. See the website below for some more information: https://www.tate.org.uk/kids/explore/what-is/surrealism

So now we come to the activity for today! There are two different options here. One option would be for children to think about the film/book ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and create some art based on the characters or events in the story. Think about the fantasy of it and let this be reflected in their art. The art can take any form; drawing, painting, 3-d models or whatever suits the pupil themselves.

The second option is for children to have a look at the art of Salvador Dali above and create a piece of surrealist art by making a collage of anything they want. This can be done by cutting things from magazines or maybe from pictures printed from online and sticking these down randomly in a dream like way. This is a great exercise to see the directions their brains go and you’ll end up with some absolutely original works of art! The melting clock is a famous image and maybe children could make their own 3-d melting clock using a paper plate or by cutting out a clock that they draw themselves. Or how about they draw animals like the elephants in the art above, long legged and out of their proper proportions to create some surrealist art of their own. This could be followed up with models of the animals created using modelling clay of Toilet roll tubes and straws. For those who may be more drawn to Meditative Rose they could use this as an influence to create something they find meditative. Don’t forget to upload pictures of all art created to your child’s profile on ClassDojo so it can be shared with their peers and we can see all the wonderful work they are doing. 

There are so many different pieces of art that children could make using Alice in Wonderland and the artworks of Salvador Dali as their influence. There are lots of other ideas and projects online if you and your children would like to have a look.

Whatever you  do today, I hope you enjoy it and I hope you all enjoy the little moments and making new memories with your families. Stay safe, Ms R. Furlong

 

Kitchen Roll Art and some Ramadan information, Activities for Friday, 24/4/2020

Happy Friday everyone. It is not the same greeting as it was some months back. This simple greeting has changed in meaning as Fridays are now differen,t as are weekends for the moment. It is 6 weeks today since we began restrictions and the schools closed 6 weeks yesterday, Thursday March 12th, 2020. In ways it seems like no length back and in ways it seems like an eternity in isolation, in lockdown.

I have only left my home on two occasions since that Thursday evening; once to take my daughter to the doctor and she is usually never sick and once to go shopping to Tesco this week. It was really strange to go shopping after nearly 6 weeks and there was a strange sense of calm, or normality in the shop. I don’t know what I expected but it wasn’t what I experienced. I wonder are we getting used to this way of life? Are we becoming relaxed? Are we becoming complacent? I have heard the word complacent used on the news several times last week and this week and maybe now I know why. Maybe some are becoming complacent??  

I hope that whatever people do this weekend they keep safe. I hope that we do not become complacent as a country. I hope we continue to keep safe, to follow the Covid 19 guidelines for all our sakes; so we are safe, so our children, our older family members, our vulnerable community members are safe. Why? So we can go back to school, so we can go back to some semblance of normality, a new normality mind, for life will never be as it once was. So we can see our loved ones who are cocooning, our parents or grandparents, our friends, our colleagues and our young pupils at school. We all want this lockdown and these restrictions to end but it has to be safe for all to do so. Hopefully the sun will keep shining today and this weekend, and while we can’t go to the beach or parks or have parties or gatherings we can all do our best and stay safe to help.

Going back to happy Friday, it doesn’t have the same meaning right now but this is still the end of the week, the end of home-schooling until Monday, the end of trying our best to teach our children at home, the time for rest. So I hope everyone, adults and children, get a chance to take some time out this weekend, to rest and recharge the batteries and to just be.

Today I am adding two activities, both of which I love. Both involve using kitchen roll and markers so I am hoping that these can be found in most homes.

  • For the first activity your child will need some kitchen roll, some markers and a basin/plate of water.
  • You take a sheet of kitchen roll and fold it in half like a card. Make sure they add a crease down the fold.
  • Then get a marker and draw the outline of an object on the top sheet.
  • Then open up the sheet and you will see that the marker has gone through to the sheet underneath.
  • The children colour in the underneath picture but leave the top one as an outline. Close back over the fold.
  • Then get the bowl or sheet of water and lay the kitchen roll into the water and watch what happens!!

Here are some images taken from the website: https://www.learningandexploringthroughplay.com/2020/03/kitchen-roll-magic-drawing-science.html

Watch the reaction of children when they see the result.

The second activity is more of a relaxing activity and is a mindful colouring exercise. This may suit older children better than the first activity. And it does the same job as the fancy mindful colouring books available. All you need is some kitchen roll and some markers and maybe some relaxing music. All you have to do is look at and dot colour the patterns on the kitchen roll. Use lots of colours to give a beautiful finish. Have a look below:

This is something that adults can join in with too and it may take some time to finish so it can be done over the weekend.

Ramadan 2020

 

For some of our children and families Thursday evening, 23rd April marked the beginning of Ramadan and this continues until Saturday evening, 23rd of May. For the Muslim community Ramadan is a time of spiritual reflection, self-improvement and heightened devotion and worship. Muslims fast from dawn until sunset every day during the month of Ramadan. If we were in school the children would be learning about Ramadan and what it means for some of their peers. Maybe people could spend some time today or over the weekend talking with your children about it and maybe look up some facts about Ramadan for children.  It is good for all of us to become more aware of the celebrations of different religions. There are also some interesting videos on YouTube explaining more. Here is an illustrated video which explains it well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YUJYEGAt4cQ

Whatever you do today and this weekend enjoy it; rest and recharge for the new week and take some relaxing time for yourselves. Most importantly stay safe and stay at home. Remember, we can all do this together apart. Ms R. Furlong

Bug Hotel, Activities for Thursday, 23/4/2020

Good morning everyone, I hope this finds everyone well and safe and enjoying their time at home. A special shout out to all the children from The Nest, thinking of you all.

Yesterday, Wednesday 22/4/2020 was World Earth Day and it marked the 50th anniversary. The theme this year was climate action and scientists are asking people to help protect the Earth. It is important for our children to have some understanding of what we can all do to save the Earth. We have done lots of work in school on reducing, reusing and recycling. Most art activities I have posted about use recycled materials you may find around the home.

We have learned about saving water by not leaving the taps running and not wasting water. We have learned about saving electricity by switching off the lights before we leave the room or when we don’t need them and by turning off the white boards or other electrical equipment when they are not in use. This is a good time at home to go back over these points with your children so they are waste conscious and recycling, water conscious when washing hands and teeth or washing up and energy conscious with electrical items such as game machines, tv’s and lights.  

In keeping with this theme I thought the activity for today should be to make a bug hotel. A day late for World earth Day but everyday should be World earth day really. There is a great bug hotel in the town park in New Ross. Most of us can recreate a smaller version in our gardens or outdoor areas. I found this as an activity at the following website: https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/life/1272486/earth-day-activities-for-kids-lockdown-games-craft-ideas-for-kids

How to make a bug hotel:

You will need:

  • a large plastic bottle cut into two cylinders,
  • sticks,(or straws)
  • pine cones,
  • bark
  • anything else you can find like leaves or kindling wood

Cut your bottle down to size, cutting off the top and bottom to leave two cylinders. (If you have no bottle you could use a few kitchen roll or toilet roll tubes and tie together.)

Arrange the materials inside your bottle by size; you can snap the sticks to make them smaller if you want. Leave little nooks and crannies for the bugs to live in!

You can hang up your bug hotel from a tree, or leave them on the ground to see what type of insects you can find.

Some images of possible bug hotels your children can make are:


The great thing about this activity is there is no right or wrong way to do it; just use the materials you have at home and let children make it the way they want to.

After a while you should get bug visitors to your bug hotel. Here are some great sheets to help your children to have a look for and identify common minibeasts and bugs you may find in the garden. When the weather is good it is great to get outside and see what you can find.

(Website on sheet)

 

I’ve added a relaxing activity to try this evening with children and adults could join in and spend some down time with their children. This is easy and fun and requires no preparation or materials; just follow the instructions below:

Whatever you do today just remember that we are all doing our best and that is enough for now. Try and have fun, enjoy making new memories and stay safe. Ms R. Furlong

Toilet Roll Art, Activities for Wednesday, 22/4/2020

Hello everyone and welcome to Wednesday. I have always loved Wednesdays as it is midweek when we are in school and it is my happy day. I saw on the forecast that today is supposed to be really warm too so a lovely day to get out and enjoy the outdoors but in a safe way. It is also a great day to bring the art outside and do it in the sun.

A big hello to all our children, we are thinking of you and hoping you are getting on well and enjoying your time at home. Are you guys up for some art today? I hope so! I don’t know what other homes are like but we have lots of toilet roll inserts and Kitchen roll inserts which we have been gathering to use for art.

Here is just some of it:

Today we are going to use these to make some toilet roll art pieces. I’ve had a look and I thought it would be great to make something useful so I found this:

This is very pretty and would come in handy for all the bits and pieces building up around the kitchen. For the boys I think this is great:

The bottom superhero ones can be used to store pens, pencils and colours just like the girls one above by putting them on a cardboard base.

For those who want to be more adventurous why not try something like this:

This would be great in a playroom or a child’s room and the colours could be adjusted to suit the room. I love these owls and this could be a project done over some time, and we have that time available to us for the next few weeks. They are made by flattening the very top, rounding it out again and then pushing each side in to the middle to make the pointed ears. 

Some of the older kids might like the challenge of doing an activity like this marble run below made using toilet roll and kitchen roll holders. It could be constructed on a fence or wall outside for some fun in the sun. 

They could view this brilliant video on YouTube for more inspiration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IN0Wn0XgPXQ

Something else I saw online this week is below; quarantine questions to ask oneself each day. I like these questions which I found on this website: https://refreshliving.us/free-printable-questions-home-quarantine/

You can download and print this for free on the link above and it would be lovely framed and shared with our families. These questions help us as adults and our children to stop each day and think about each one. They help us stay mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy during our time in Lockdown.

Whatever you do today I hope you all enjoy making memories with your families and stay safe, Ms R. Furlong.

 

Family Handprints for Lockdown Keepsake, Activities for Tuesday, 21/4/2020

Happy Tuesday everyone, I hope this post finds everyone well and happy and safe. I hope that everyone managed to settle back into some sort of routine yesterday after the break and that everyone did at least one thing that made them happy and smile. It was such a lovely day that we went out to play with water and it was very relaxing. We did decide to play some games as a family and we played Snap with our Food Dudes cards and Memo animal matching game. These were not as relaxing unfortunately!! I have always known that my daughter had a competitive edge which I have seen when she dances but the card games were quite ‘interesting’. There were a few tears and we have to do some more work on fairness and on the joys of winning and losing!! Here are some snaps below: 

 

During this lockdown I have tried to take lots of pictures of the things we have been doing so I can create a photo album for my little girl to look back on as a diary. I want her to remember this time with happiness, I want her to remember the good times and the happy memories we are making as a family and I want her or us to ever forget the hard work and dedication of so many people right now. We spend some time talking about the people who are working in the shops, producing food, driving buses like her Dad, and the frontline medical workers in our hospitals, old folk homes and other residential settings. I am so thankful to them all and I want my daughter to be thankful too.

I feel it is important for children to become involved in community activities that benefit others, especially at this time. The United Striders who are the local running club in New Ross are organising a very worthy cause. They are organising a 5K walk, jog or run in your garden or within 2km of your home, adhering to social distancing measures on Sunday morning next, April 26th at 10am. There are asking people if they can afford it to make a donation and all donations will be shared among our three local care homes; Signacare Nursing Home, Cherrygrove Nursing Home in Campile and New Ross Community Hospital. These are all caring for some of our most vulnerable community members. Why not have a think about this and get all the family to join in together, ‘Better Together’.

Another thing I want to do while in Lockdown is to make a frame of some sort to capture our handprints while at home. I have come across a few variations of this. I am recommending this as a family activity for today and children can send a photo of the finished product to ClassDojo to share with their peers.

The first option is below:

This and more ideas can be seen at https://artsandbricks.com/family-handprint-art-for-lockdown-2020/

This is quite a simple option as you just trace over the handprints of the different family members or people living in your home during this time. Cut out the handprints and stick them down according to size. Then stick them onto a background sheet and write a quote and date it. You can write the names of each person on each hand. Note: We are also including a paw print for our dog in this because she is family in our eyes. Quotes being used are: “During a time when the world needed everyone to stay apart…Together was our favourite place to be.’ Or ‘When the World stayed apart, we stayed together.’ The children can help you to make up a quote as a family. Another option seen above is using paints if you have them to create the handprints, starting with the biggest handprint and printing on top down to the smallest handprint.

Another lovely variation of it is the salt dough handprints. This can be seen below:

The instructions are: 

  1. Get 500g of plain flour, 250g of salt and 250 ml of water.
  2. Mix into a dough.
  3. Roll out flat but it doesn’t have to be perfect.
  4. Smooth off around the edges and then press in the handprints of everyone in your home.
  5. Bake in oven on lowest temp for 3-4 hours or until rock hard.
  6. You can paint the whole thing one colour and then varnish to seal or you could use different colours to paint the different handprints. Don’t forget to date it and add names to handprints if there are a lot of people at home.

Again, you can make a print for the dog and make sure to wash the paw well before and after it.

There are other variations online too and I am sure that lots of our very creative children and families can come up with their own ideas. The important thing is to make a keepsake or a few keepsakes of this time as hopefully when it ends it will be the last time we experience a lockdown like this.

Before I go I would just like to remind everyone about Urban Rascals today at 1.30pm and don’t forget to send in your pictures and put up a comment during the session. It was great to see so many pictures of children and families joining in with the sessions which were on during the Easter holidays, well done everyone and thanks for sharing your photos on ClassDojo.

A big hello to all the children and especially those who usually come to The Nest, I miss you all and look forward to seeing you all. A big well done too to all the parents and guardians who are looking after their children at home during these unprecedented times. It is not easy at the moment and I for one feel that I have taken on so many roles during this time.  I saw the next image earlier and laughed because this is so true and I think I have been each one of these in the last few weeks.

I hope everyone has a great day making memories and I look forward to hearing about it all soon. Stay safe, Ms R. Furlong

 

We Miss You, RTE School Hub and TG4 Cúla Ar Scoil and Games; Activities for Monday 20/4/2020

Welcome back to school as we know it for now. A big hello to everyone today, especially all the children as we return to online learning today after our Easter break. How was the break? Did everyone relax and enjoy the break from schoolwork? I hope the two weeks holidays were full of fun and chocolate and lazy days and fun in the sun when it was out. I hope everyone is feeling good as we begin the summer school term, online for the moment.

When the schools closed in mid-March we expected to be back in school by now and I know it is difficult for lots of people for lots of reasons. We want things to be ‘Normal’ again. We want to see our school friends and colleagues and teachers want to see the children but we can all do this, we have got this and we are a new day closer to the end of this all.

For those of you who have children missing their grandparents or loved ones then the New Ross Standard is inviting children, with the help of parents or guardians to send them an email with a photo of themselves and a short message to those they are missing and the paper will print all messages and photos. I think this is so lovely and we have sent the photo and message. My girl is so delighted that her grandparents and her aunty who minds her are going to get this message in the paper with her photo and I am sure the grandparents will be delighted too. The email address is wemissyou@peoplenews.ie

On a different note, I have looked at the sample timetable put up on the website and it will probably take a day or two to get back into a schedule after the Easter holidays. I know we have been going to bed later, getting up later and chilling out loads so everyone in our house will definitely be in for a shock as we return to home schooling!! I really like the sample schedule especially as schooling doesn’t start at 8.45 like school does so for us that is a plus. For those of you who didn’t look at the timetable here it is:

Routine is Key to Happy Children

9-00am-10-00am Out of bed, play and get dressed

10-00am-11-00am Breakfast, tidy up and household jobs

11-00am-1-00pm School work

1-00pm-2-00pm Lunch and play time

2-00pm-3-00pm Outdoor exercise time

3-00pm-4-00pm Creative time-reading, art, dance, music, drama, baking or more school work for older children

4-00pm-5-00pm Free play time or limited TV

5-00pm-6-00pm Project time: a time to work on a specific project like writing a book, painting, a specific project in an area of interest etc.

6-00pm-7-00pm Help prepare dinner and tidy up

7-00pm-8-00pm Family activity time-board games, limited TV etc.

This schedule or a similar one makes things more structured at home for children and they know what to expect and when to expect it. If you don’t already have one in place it is well worth trying it this week. Children need structure and routine in their lives, especially if we want them to be able to learn in this new home schooling environment. I like the one above and it is achievable so today, Monday, we are going to try and put a timetable into place in our house. We are going to explain it to our girl and display it in the kitchen so it is clear for all what is expected. It is also suitable to use with children of all ages and abilities and has lots on offer throughout the day.

One of the things we did do over the holidays was we watched Home School Hub on RTE everyday as it is really good and interesting and we have tried to join in and do some activities. If you haven’t been watching it is definitely worth trying every week day, 11 to 12 on RTE 2. The Home School Hub Extra is on each day at 4.10pm and shows work sent in during the day from children around the country.

They break down the session into 3 parts each day with something for everyone. The groups are 1st to 2nd class, 3rd to 4th class and 5th to 6th class. There are worksheets available for printing each day on the RTE website also. Here is the timetable for this week:

This gives parents and carers an opportunity to do something else if they need to while children are learning while watching TV and all teaching is delivered by qualified teachers and follows the curriculum. I for one find it really good for my girl and she enjoys watching it too.

For those who would prefer to improve their Irish TG4 is delighted to announce that a new programme, Cúla4 Ar Scoil will commence on Monday 20 April 2020, broadcasting on weekdays at 10a.m to 10.30am. This is for children who are attending Gaelscoileanna and Gaeltacht schools but is suitable for all children and a great way to boost their Irish. Their will a theme each week and this week’s theme is communication. Again, it is designed so that there is something for each class grouping each day. Why not try it with your children and they may enjoy it and learn new Irish. This would be especially useful for older children and those going on to secondary school in September. We are going to log in and see what it is like today. Here is the timetable for this week:

Back to our activity for today; there is fun activity time such as board games on the schedule above so my recommendation for today is shared games.

If you have board games at home then why not join your children for a game. Let them experience you win and loose and learn from your reactions. Why not teach them a new game that they will play with family, friends and classmates when we return to school. Why not give them the opportunity to develop thinking skills, problem solving skills, turn taking, concentration and the skills needed for sticking it out to the end and not giving up.

And if you have no board games at home then make some; we have played X’s and O’s this week and have loved it. The week before we finished up school I was showing some how to do the game where you draw dots on a sheet like below and then you take turns joining the dots to complete squares. If you complete a square then you get to put you initials into it and the person with most boxes at the end wins. You can make it more fun by drawing objects in some boxes and putting a score on the box such as +2 or -2. The person who completes these boxes then gets the score. It adds more fun to the game. You can look up a video on YouTube for instructions if you need more guidance.

Another game we loved playing as kids and I am going to play at home here is flick the coin. You get 5c coins or whatever you have (washed and clean) and everyone stands back from a wall. You take turns flicking the coin off your thumb towards the wall and the person whose coin is closest to the wall at the end wins. This could be done with counters or make discs from card or from a cereal box.

Why not teach your children games from your own childhood? They would love to learn I am sure.

It doesn’t matter what the game is as long as you are all having fun and children are learning new skills.

Whatever you do today I hope you enjoy it. I hope it is a good day for everyone and for everyone to realise that we are all trying our best and that is enough for today. Children can share pictures of your family playing games on ClassDojo if they want; it is great to see what they are up to during this time. Enjoy making memories with your families and stay safe. Ms R. Furlong

 

 

Treasure hunts, Activities for Friday, 3/4/2020 and into the Easter Holidays, 2020

Hi everyone, hopefully we are all feeling positive and motivated today and our children are happy and healthy. These are great days for spending time with them and hugging them close and reassuring them that we are here with them and looking after them as best we can. I am missing The Nest and the children who visit us over the week so give them an extra hug from me. We are at the end of week 3 and we are one day closer to the end of this pandemic, for it will end. This gives me hope. I am in the process of painting this picture at home:

The quote was written by Victor Hugo; a French poet, novelist and dramatist who lived from 1802 to 1885. He wrote Les Miserable the novel in 1862 and the quote above comes from the novel. This was adapted into the very famous musical of the same name and is otherwise known as ‘Le Mis’. The quote fits life today as well as it did back 158 years ago and it gives me hope in the dark moments. Have you found a quote or a saying that gives you hope right now? How are you instilling hope in your children and each other right now? I am going to hang my painting when it is finished as a reminder that even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise. Maybe it will give someone else some hope in the days and weeks ahead. Why not write out the quote and put it somewhere you can see it and use it as a reminder to keep hope alive. 

I am not sure what way the weather will be so our idea for today can be done either inside or outside. Today is all about a treasure hunt or scavenger hunt. My daughter has tried to convince me to do this with chocolate but she will have to wait another week for that. So we have compromised and she is going to pick things that are important to her and we are going to hide them. (At this point I might add that I will be writing a list of hiding places in case I forget any and her treasures get lost forever!!) You never know, she might just find some chocolate along the way too.

We are going to start with her picking out her things for hiding and making a list of them. Then we will draw a map of the garden or house depending on the weather and put some clues on the map for her. One of us adults will hide the items and the other will go on the treasure hunt with her. This is a great idea for all children when they have done their other school work and there are ideas here for children of different ages. It is also a great activity for siblings of different ages to try together. Better together. It will also get children practicing for if you do an Easter egg hunt. Of course you can make your list as simple or detailed as you like and make it suit your child/children.

Have a look on this website for some ideas: https://www.woojr.com/scavenger-hunt-ideas/

The map will look something like these depending on if you are inside or outside:

 

Again you make it fit your home or garden. (Just remember to keep social distancing  if doing the Treasure hunt outdoors) 

Some younger children will really enjoy the treasure hunt and there are lots of ideas for other treasure hunts to try with them. The website below is a great resource: https://buggyandbuddy.com/30-free-printable-scavenger-hunts-for-kids/ and remember, you don’t need to print anything as you can write down some ideas from here on a sheet and use that.

Some children will really enjoy doing maps and those who do could then try and make a pirates treasure map, lots of ideas to make them look old and authentic online. They could also make a pirates treasure box from a cereal box or recycled cardboard. They can decorate it as they wish to keep their treasure in. It could also double up to store the chocolate bounty if you do an Easter  treasure hunt. 

A great idea for older kids is an online coordinates game at the link: https://mrnussbaum.com/coordinates-online-game

This will challenge older kids to mark coordinates on a map and name countries at these coordinates. This website and games are free at the moment and there are other great games for kids. There is also a brilliant timed International Pizza Delivery game for those who like a challenge.

This website also has some great interactive maps to have a look at over the Easter holidays.

Today marks the end of the second term of school and the start of the Easter holidays. There are loads of brilliant ideas online for Easter art; Easter cards to send to loved ones, Easter ideas to decorate our homes and brighten up our days and Easter wreaths to hang on the door. But some of the best ideas are held by our children so get them creating and decorating. 

Don’t forget to continue with the activities from a few weeks back where children of all ages help out at home and learn new life skills. Try out new meditations for children and adults or join in with some yoga online. And lastly, all children should be reading every day too; whether it is a novel, a comic book, a book of facts, something online or otherwise as long as they are reading.

Most importantly, enjoy the break, let the children enjoy the break and rest as they would do during a normal school holidays. Be kind to yourselves and those around you, be patient with yourselves and those around you and spend quality time with your families. There will be difficult days but hopefully the good ones will outweigh those and remember: 

  I hope everyone has lots fun together and enjoy making new memories. For all the children who come to The Nest; I will be thinking of you all and look forward to seeing you all again. Big hugs to you and your families. And we will share our Easter treats when we are back safely at school. Happy Easter and stay safe everyone. Ms R. Furlong

 

Spinners, Activities for Thursday 2nd March, 2020

Today, Thursday April 2nd, 2020 is World Autism Awareness Day and we would love if all the children and adults would wear Blue and post a picture of themselves to ClassDojo and all who do will get a ‘blue treat’ from Ms Doyle on returning to school. Also, take a picture of yourselves outside and wearing blue during Urban Rascals and post it to the school Facebook Messenger to be in with the chance of winning a prize. (See 2 below for more details)

Hello everyone, and welcome to World Autism Awareness Day, 2020. I hope this finds you all safe and well. A big shout out today to all the children who are doing marvelous work at home and all the adults supporting them in this work. A special shout hello to all our pupils from The Nest, I am thinking of you all and hoping you are doing well. I am so looking forward to seeing you all soon hopefully. 

I have loved seeing so many pictures on ClassDojo of amazing projects, yummy looking foods baked, fabulous drawings and artwork and lots of energetic children and adults following along with Urban Rascals. Well done everyone. It helps to see all these pictures when we are locked away at the moment and a special shout out to all those who have sent in your beautiful rainbows in windows. I have really loved seeing these and I am sure they bring a smile to neighbours and anyone who sees them. We live out in the countryside so we don’t get to see them and not many get to see ours but we have filled our windows with rainbows and colourful shamrocks and other pictures to help keep our spirits up. If you haven’t already done this why not do it today. 

When I was thinking about an activity that would be fun to do today I got thinking about a former pupil of mine. I always love to learn new things from children as they have so much to teach us and one day we had a visit from a former pupil of mine from Syria to The Nest. We were talking about life here in Ireland and life as it had been for him before he came to Ireland. He told us how he hadn’t had much toys and how the children would make toys to play with like spinners. The other children were eager to try theses so we got some cardboard and string and following his instructions we all made spinners. It was a great lesson for us all that we should not and do not need to depend on electronics and expensive games, and we can make games at home from things we have. Sometimes the simplest toys or games are the most entertaining.

I thought that it would be a great idea to try these at home with your families. Again, you can use a cereal box or other recycled cardboard and some old string or elastic or an old show lace??

Instructions to make a spinner: (Adult help and support may be needed for steps 2 and 5)

  1. Get some cardboard and a small plate or CD or DVD. Draw around the circle shaped object on two pieces of card.
  2. Cut around the edge of both circles and put them back to back to make sure they are the same size as each other. 
  3. Decorate both circles with colours and patterns. They can both be the same or different.
  4. Glue the two discs back to back with the colour sides facing out.
  5. Mark a dot at the very centre of one disc and then punch a hole either side with a tooth pick, small scissors or other sharp object. 
  6. Get a string about 35 to 40 cm long and put it in through one hole and back out the other. Tie a knot on the two loose ends and then move the string so you have a loop about the same length either side.
  7. Start making fast circle movements with your hands to spin the string in fast motion.
  8. After you get the spin going, relax your movements and slowly bring the hands closer and further apart.

Here is a link to a short YouTube video showing the process which may be of help to some children:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xKS-RsvdUf0

There are lots more so why not have a look at a few and find the one that suits your family best.

Here are some templates and ideas for designs:

Again, there are loads of great patterns online but I love seeing what the children can create for themselves.

When children have finished there is a great video of an experiment on YouTube showing that when the colours of the rainbow are spun at speed on the disc they blend together to create white light. The faster you spin the disc, the more white light you see. Have a look at the link:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_z7BDab3N7w

It is called a reverse rainbow because when white light from the sun passes through raindrops it is split into the colours of the rainbow and by spinning the disc we are reversing this process by blending the colours back again into white light. Some children may want to try this experiment themselves and video it to see how they create white light from colours. 

Don’t forget to share your creations on ClassDojo with us as it is great to see the finished product. We might even see some blue spinners for Autism Awareness Day which would be great.

Before I go I just wanted to add a meditation to the activities for today. My little girl is having trouble falling asleep. She is out of routine somewhat and is missing life as she knows it. she is missing grandparents, other family members she is really close to, school, her teacher and friends, her dancing teacher and her dancing friends… the list goes on. I know that lots of children are feeling the same right now, the novelty of being out of school may be wearing off. We have tried some things to help her settle and last night we decided to try a sleep meditation for kids which worked perfectly and she was asleep before it ended.

It is simple to follow if you use a guided meditation on a phone or tablet and it is so relaxing. Sleep meditations are only one type, you can use a meditation at any stage in the day to help children or adults who are feeling upset, worried, anxious or otherwise. Just go to google and type in meditation for kids/children to let go of worries or meditation for kids/children for sleep. You will get some wonderful ones and it is a great way to help children and adults regulate their emotions and feel calmer. You can also choose a timescale so you can make it as short or as long as you want to. Children may need to try it a few times to get used to sitting/lying and enjoying it. 

Enjoy making memories and have a relaxing day whatever you do. Stay safe, Ms. R. Furlong

 

April Fool’s Day, Activities for Wednesday, 1st April, 2020

Happy April fool’s day everyone, I hope you’ve had a great morning and that all the April fool pranks have been funny ones.

I have never really been into pranks and have spent many an April 1st on edge waiting for a prank around each corner. But now that I have a little girl it has changed and she has spent ages Tuesday evening wanting to discuss what we might do on April fools morning and has promised to wake me early to do a prank on her Dad!!??  

Welcome to April, which I thought was never going to arrive. March seems to have gone on forever and I am glad it has passed. We are beginning a new month, new positive mental attitude and each day is a new day to do something fun with our children.

My first recommendation for today is Yoga; Yamakidsyoga on Facebook is based in New Ross and they have asked people to tune in on Wednesday at 2pm for their CHOCOLATE meditation!! Yes, that’s right; all you need is a small piece of chocolate!! Of course there is nothing to say that you can’t have a big piece, so my alarm is set on my phone for 2pm and all I have to do now is sort out the chocolate. Apart from the chocolate, yoga help kids and adults to relax, relieve stress and helps with emotional regulation. It would be a lovely activity to share with your children and the chocolate is also a bonus.

When everyone is lovely and relaxed why not watch the video of the book, ‘I Need a New Bum’, together being read by The Scottish Granny on YouTube at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQoYjU2Fh0M   

We watched this being read online last week by a teacher  from my girl’s pre-school and we loved it. We laughed loads and it was just what we needed, as they say; Laughter is the best medicine! If you enjoy this video check out the Scottish Granny reading The Wonky Donkey on another video too, brilliant.

Have a great April fool’s Day everyone, and especially those who usually come to The Nest; we are thinking of you guys and hoping you are all doing really well.

Enjoy making memories with your family and stay safe. Ms. R. Furlong

 

“Not all heroes wear capes”, Activities for Tuesday, 31/3/2020

“Not all superheroes wear capes… some wear scrubs and gowns.” We heard this quote from Leo Varadkar on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2020. And this is so true of all those who are working tirelessly at the moment in any way to help us through this difficult time. We are so grateful to all our essential workers, some of whom are parents and family members of our children and staff. But it doesn’t stop there because all the children at home working away as best they can on their schoolwork are also ‘Heroes’ and are playing their part in helping all the vulnerable by staying at home. So today let’s be heroes in name, costume and superpowers too. I am now Power Girl. I am working on my costume as you read and wondering what superpower I have to yet discover.

What is your superhero name?? What is your costume like?? What is your superpower? 

Today when you have finished your classwork I challenge you to use the chart below to discover your superhero name.

 

 

Then I would like you to draw your costume and to think of a superpower you would love to have. Why not make it a family activity and have everyone join in because we are all superheroes right now by staying at home and doing our part to help everyone in our country. Older children could help younger siblings. Here are some cool backgrounds for your superhero picture: 

You can also complete a sheet like the one below to add some creative writing by writing what your superpower is, 3 reasons your superpower rocks and 3 things you will do with your superpower. 

You don’t need to print either of these sheets as you can just copy them on a sheet and add your superhero, superpower and create your own background.

I hope you will take a picture of your work and send it to Class Dojo for us all to see and send it in for the art exhibition. I look forward to seeing some of your work, especially that of the superheroes who come to The Nest. I am thinking about you all and hoping that you are doing good. I miss you girls and guys and look forward to sharing some good times soon in The Nest. Mind yourselves and don’t forget to help out at home and put all those superpowers to work.

Enjoy your day whatever you do and keep washing those hands. Stay safe. Power Girl 

 

Button Art, Activities for Monday, 30/3/2020

Well, we begin this week in Lockdown in Ireland; we are truly living in a time that we will look back on with wonder and we will talk about with future generations. it feels a bit surreal and I am sure will bring a lot of emotions for us all, children and adults alike. For some of us we have been living like this since school finished but for others this is a further change to how the last two weeks have been. I know that my emotions are up and down but I also know that this is normal for the time we are living in.

I, like most of us am staying at home, I have been staying at home and I will be staying at home for as long as I need to because I have parents and other people I love in the vulnerable category. I have family and friends who are on the front line and they are risking their lives so the least I can do is stay at home. During this time at home our children will need support and help at times to deal with this. If your child is struggling with this new way of life you could try some of these or have a look back over some of the posts below:

And remember, we can all just do our best at this time, take time out to rest and relax and be kind to ourselves and others. 

A lovely idea to help them take their minds off what is going on in the world is to do some ‘Button Art’. My Nanny and my Mam always collected buttons by cutting off buttons off old clothes or from tags of new clothes to use again. I got into the habit of doing it and earlier on I saw some lovely button art that could be done with any age group.Some examples I loved are:

Also

Of course, if you have no buttons or glue why not try to draw a picture and decorate it by drawing different buttons on and colour it in. There are loads more ideas online if you google Button art and our children will have some brilliant ideas of their own. You can then keep your art for the art exhibition when we go back to school and don’t forget to take a photo of it and send it to us on Class Dojo to share with you class. 

Another great idea is to check out the New Ross Library page on Facebook to see the Rainbow challenge if you haven’t already done it. This is something being done in lots of countries where children are painting/colouring/making rainbows and putting them into their windows for others who may pass to see them and to fill our world with colour. Rainbows bring hope to the world and you can use any materials you have available at home to do it. Pop on some relaxing music while doing art and it makes the experience more enjoyable. Lots of music on YouTube. 

Whatever you do today enjoy it, enjoy this time with your family and stay safe. Ms R. Furlong

 

Diorama Art, Activity for Friday 27/3/2020 (and maybe into the weekend)

Happy Friday everyone, another week ends and I hope we can have as much happiness from this Friday and weekend as possible.

To begin with I want to share the image below with parents as it might come in handy with children while they are at home from school. Everyone’s home is different and for me at the moment my daughter is at the stage of wanting to do everything herself, no matter what the task, and has been frustrated at times when she hers ‘No’. Instead we have been trying to use other phrases with her instead of no to help alleviate that frustration when we have felt that the task is out of her reach and when she is trying to stay up as late as she can. I found this great list online a while ago and came across it again yesterday so these are my new phrases to replace ‘No’. Maybe they can help in your homes too!

 

Moving on then to the activity of the day; I would like pupils to try to create a diorama which is basically a 3-D model and can be built on any theme and be as detailed or as simple as suits the artist. A few weeks ago one of the pupils made a shark from Hama beads and we used a box to create a diorama of under the sea. 

Here is the one that was made in The Nest recently:                                               

This was done quite quickly as a backdrop for the shark but these can be far more detailed and can be made from recycled materials and items at home such as old socks for material, images from magazines etc. Here are some I saw online before we finished school and we had intended doing these in The Nest so maybe you could do these at home with your children or they could take ownership of and do themselves. Have a look at these brilliant ones I found online:

                                                       

 

I have always used a box of some sort; an old show box or a cereal box for example. But I just love the circle one and we are going to try one at home here. We have old cardboard in our recycling and old socks that are too small for my daughter and they can be cut up to be stuck on. I am sure that LOL’s will play a part here as they are her favourite at the moment but children may want to do one with toy animals, toy soldiers, Lego people etc. There are lots of examples to see online and you can google ‘Children’s Dioramas’ to have a look and get some other ideas. 

These do take some time to do so they can be started tomorrow and maybe completed over the weekend as it is a project that can be done over time. 

***The ISS: Just a thought; we have been watching for the International Space Station in the sky, twice each night at the moment. Here is the link to check online for the times it will be visible for the next week or so and I am sure children will enjoy watching it pass: 

https://spotthestation.nasa.gov/sightings/view.cfm?country=Ireland&region=None&city=Waterford#.Xn0hq-r7TIU

Maybe someone will do a space diorama!! Don’t forget to post some pictures of any activities you have tried on your Class Dojo so we can see all your great work.

Have a great Friday and enjoy your weekend and stay safe. Say hello to all our children, especially those who come to The Nest and tell them I am thinking of them. Enjoy making new memories with your children, Ms R. Furlong

Emotional and physical wellbeing, Activities for Thursday, 26/3/2020

Hi everyone, I hope my post finds you all well and safe. A big shout out to all the children who come to The Nest, I’m thinking of you all and hoping you are all doing well. It is hard to believe that today, Thursday, marks two weeks out of school and at the same time that Thursday, when the announcement was made to close schools, seems a lifetime ago. It amazes me how we have settled into this on the whole at home. There are times when the enormity of the situation we find ourselves living in hits home, reminders on the news, but we are trying to keep the house as normal and as calm as we can. We are trying to do some work set from school, follow some ideas given and each day we read, we listen to a story online and we count. 

All class teachers are setting work for classes on the website so make sure you are checking this and encouraging your children to try their best but not to worry if they can’t do something. The teachers are available on Class Dojo if you or your child needs help so make sure you have signed up using the code sent from school.  

My priority at home at the moment is the emotional and physical wellbeing of my family here and we are focusing on spending lots of time with our child. I understand that it is easier with one but our children need us to spend time with them. They need us to hug them, read with them, cook with them, share a meal with them and just be there for them. Ask them what they need right now and how we as adults can help them. Ask them how they are feeling and don’t be afraid to share your feelings in a child friendly way. Show them that you are listening and care about what they have to say.

However, children also need free play, time to be bored, time away from academic activities for enjoyable, creative activities.

 

 

Today, try and encourage your children to have free play, whatever that is for your children. Give them time to be ‘bored’ and ask them what they want to do or what they could do with this time. Guide them in ways they can entertain themselves and set up a ‘Boredom Box’. Ask them what kind of things they could put into this box. There could be colouring sheets, word searches, crosswords, fidget toys, cards, a tennis ball, etc. I know that all the children got Christmas annuals at school and some probably have such activities still undone. For some kids they may want to go kick a football or practice hurling skills if they are in a position to do so. Others may want to go online and learn something new.

When the academics are done for the day today give your children some time for themselves, some time for free play and take a little time for yourself too. Parents and guardians need to remember too that we are doing a great job at the moment and this is a parenting experience to which we are all trying to adjust. Each day when we make time for free play for our little girl at home I try and take a break; grab a cup of coffee, ring my parents, take a shower, or whatever suits at the time.

Have a great day, enjoy making new memories today and stay safe. Ms, R. Furlong

 

Mindfulness Matters, Activities for Wednesday, 25/3/2020

Hi everyone, I hope this post finds everyone feeling well and safe. It is such an unusual time for us all and especially after the announcements on Tuesday evening that we will not go back to school until after the Easter holidays. This will bring upset for some children who are missing their peers, especially the older ones. It will no doubt bring upset for parents and guardians too.

People probably look on at teachers right now and see this as a holiday for us but I would rather be in my room each day with Kenzie, my room partner and all of our children coming and going, sharing their stories, playing our games, sharing our food, laughing and talking around the table while we do art and crafts. I am missing it all and I am missing our children at school. Let them know that we are thinking of them and missing them and we look forward to seeing them when this ends and schools begins again for us all. We will rejoice and be glad to go back to what we know best, life as we know it but until then we will try our best to make the most of each day.

I know some of our children are struggling, we as adults are too, but we have to try and remain calm and help them to do the same. We need to talk with them and reassure them that they are safe. We need to practice self-care and share our coping skills with them. Here are some great affirmations to try with your children to help:  

 

This is a really important time to think about our wellbeing amidst the uncertainty. Today is a good day to try and incorporate some mindfulness activities into our routines. There are so many different activities we can do from the safety of home. Our children will appreciate some down time and some lovely ideas for today are:

  • Doing Jigsaws if you have any at home
  • Some baking or cooking a meal together, it doesn’t have to be anything fancy but let children be part of it
  • Play with a pet at home if you have one
  • Practice some yoga. If you follow the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSc9BofbtiQ you will see a session of Kids Partner Yoga from Yama Kids Yoga here in New Ross and it’s easy to follow.
  • Listen to a story being read online. David Williams is releasing a free audio story every day for the next 30 days and he is reading them himself. I know loads of our children love his books so why not follow the link and have a listen; https://www.worldofdavidwalliams.com/elevenses/
  • Reading a book together, or older children reading to or with younger children
  • Blow bubbles if you have some and if not we always used diluted down washing up liquid as children, why not try it the old way
  • Make texture bags; get a cloth bag and pop some different shaped items into the bag. Have the children feel the item by reaching in and touching each object one at a time. They must then describe the object and guess what it is. Again, older kids could help out by doing this with younger children
  • Watch a movie together, why not share an old favourite and get the treats out
  • Do an exercise routine with your children; remember you can go back anytime on Facebook to the Urban Gym session that was done on Tuesday especially for all the pupils of Bunscoil Rís and enjoy the experience over and over again. Anyone who posts a photograph of themselves working out on the school website will have their name put into a draw with a chance to win a prize. They will be doing a live session again on Thursday at 1.30pm so don’t forget to log on and enjoy.

It doesn’t matter if you do any or all of the above, what is important is that you do some activities that help you relax, that help your children relax each day so that we all look after our mental health during these times. We are all in this together.

**Well done to all who have logged on and connected with their class on Class Dojo. For those who haven’t logged on yet you can win a pizza party for your child’s class by logging into Class DoJo now using the code sent by the school.

Stay safe and enjoy making memories, Ms. R. Furlong

 

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, Activity ideas for Tuesday, 24th March, 2020

Hi everyone,
Today, please take a look at Urban Rascals on the Urban Gym Facebook Page. On Tuesdays and Thursdays they are bringing you a really fun children’s fitness class at 1:30pm live from New Ross. Anyone who posts a photograph of themselves working out on the school website will have their name put into a draw with a chance to win a FitBit! Really looking forward to seeing some photos!
Win a pizza party for your class by logging into Class DoJo.
I hope everyone reading this is feeling good and staying safe. A big shout out to all who come to The Nest; we are missing you guys and thinking of you all. I have a Class Dojo set up and I am just waiting on parents and guardians to connect via the invitation sent out by text. We are looking forward to hearing what you guys are all up to during this time off and seeing some pictures of you trying out some ideas already posted.

I did have a different idea for everyone for Tuesday but when I read about the art exhibition earlier and chatted about it with my little girl we decided to change our plans for tomorrow. I love the idiom above and I know that people may not have lots of art supplies at home so we gathered up some items that are readily available in most homes right now. I want this to be an activity that everyone can do and it will cost nothing. Also, it will be a great way for parents to spend time with children making art, for siblings maybe to do some art together or for children to do some art themselves while parents are free to do other things that need doing.

At home here we are going to use these things and some more I am sure she will find before long and make a piece of art. It is amazing what children will create themselves and it will give them a sense of pride in themselves to look at the finished product. This can be done by any age and it can be used as a task of responsibility for older kids to help out younger children in the home too. Either before or after the art when you have time you could take a look at the site below which is a lovely site on the topic of junk art: https://junkkouture.com/

From the site: ‘Junk Kouture is a fashion competition using recycled materials, which challenges young people to design, create and model high end couture from everyday junk!

It takes in elements of fashion, design, engineering and environmental sustainability and transforms them into a creative contest like no other! Hitting its tenth year running, Junk Kouture has already captivated over 40,000 students, 8,000 teachers and 100,000 audience members.’   Have a look and watch some of the videos on YouTube as the designs are amazing. And you never know, we have some budding Junk couture fashionistas among us.

Don’t forget to keep all art made or take a photo of it for the Art Exhibition at school when we go back. Have a look at the main page of our website to see more.

Have an amazing day and enjoy the artwork in your home. Stay safe everyone, Ms. R. Furlong                                              

 

Responsibility and independence, Activities for Monday, 23/3/2020

I hope this post finds everyone well and safe after what has been a most unusual weekend. Mother’s Day yesterday came and went without a visit to my Mam or my mother-in-law’s house. For my little girl it meant no visit to Nanny or Granny with flowers or gifts but we did do phone calls. How is everyone else doing? How was your weekend? I know this is a difficult time for adults and children alike, for all of us in all areas of our community. We are feeling a loss of control over this whole situation and so are our children.

Thinking about the feeling of loss of control over things I think this is a good time to give children some more responsibilities in the home and to give them back a sense of control once the tasks are at their level and doable. With this sense of responsibility comes a sense of independence and the learning of life skills.

We have looked around the home here for such tasks and we were lucky enough to acquire a lovely chest of drawers in the last few weeks. We have decided that our little girl will have this in her playroom and on Monday she is going to help clean it up and then she is going to clean out her toys and put them into the drawers and label each drawer. Hopefully she will clean up her bedroom as part of this and help with stripping and making her bed fresh. What tasks can you find for your children to do? What new responsibility could you give them to help them become more independent?

This is a good a time as any to help our children learn skills for life and they will hopefully appreciate the responsibility in the long run when they become more independent. Some children may be already doing lots of chores at home and others not so much so below is a list of activities to try this week.

Children of all ages should be helping out with basic everyday personal tasks such as:

  • Choosing clothes and getting dressed
  • Making their bed (some may need some help)
  • Cleaning their room
  • Picking up their toys and clearing away after school activities
  • Showering and maintaining good personal hygiene

Alongside the personal tasks children could be helping out with family tasks such as:

  • Setting the table for meals
  • Helping to prepare food for the family
  • Clearing away after meals
  • Washing up and drying up after meals
  • Putting clothes for the wash and helping to sort out colours and lights
  • Taking care of their pet’s food and water bowl and making sure they are getting some exercise
  • Sweeping the floor

 

I hope you all have a great Monday. Don’t forget to connect with us on Class Dojo using the codes sent out by the school. I look forward to connecting with you all and hearing about how you and your children are getting on. Until then, enjoy making new memories with your children, enjoy watching them become more independent and stay safe. Ms R. Furlong

 

Getting out and appreciating Nature during spring equinox, 2020. Activities for Friday, 20/3/2020

As the first school week of home schooling draws to a close tomorrow I hope people are making memories, good memories with their children and enjoying the experience. Yes, as a parent and having talked to some other parents the last few days  I know it has been a difficult time for some. I have read the Facebook posts on children being expelled and laughed but having their routine changed and being home schooled is difficult for lots of children and keeping them on task is really hard for them and their parents, guardians and carers. And remember it doesn’t matter what others are doing, we can only do our best at these times.

I saw this last night and it is also a quote we found last week on bookmarks we are making in The Nest. 

Our home is no different to most homes right now and we have decided that our Friday is going to be about getting out and engaging with nature. The one thing I have appreciated each morning this week when I’ve woken really early in a quiet house is the sound of birds singing. Today; Friday, March 20th, 2020 is the Spring Equinox meaning day and night are approximately 12 hours each. This marks the first day of astronomical spring. Nature calls and a great thing to do today is to get outside with children, go for a walk and have a look for the signs of spring which are visible all around us. The buds are on the trees, some are opening and there is lots of new growth on trees. The birds are starting to build nests and are singing away, the flowers are starting to poke their heads through the soil towards the sun, the baby animals are being born. Engaging with nature we can see that spring is here and spring brings hope of a new tomorrow with it. Nature carries on and the seasons change, totally oblivious of Covid-19. Children can later write or draw about what they have seen in their diary to bring back to school.

There are also some lovely videos and websites to view later. A lovely video of penguins to watch online at the moment if your children haven’t already seen it is linked below.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2020/mar/17/flipping-brilliant-penguins-tour-chicago-aquarium-closed-due-to-covid-19-video

And if you all enjoy this why not log into the website for Dublin zoo and watch the webcams and learn more about the animals in the zoo.

https://www.dublinzoo.ie/animals/animal-webcams/

 There are great videos about plants and there growth too on YouTube. Try the links below or just google your own.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tkFPyue5X3Q  and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IYxfz1PSfZ0 

A picture just as the sun was setting tonight to get us in the mood for exploring nature tomorrow.

Stay safe and enjoy making new memories together. Ms R. Furlong

 

Let’s spread hope. Activities for Thursday 19/3/2020 

I hope this post finds all of you well and safe . I hope children and parents are settling into their new routine, whatever it may be and this will be different in each home and that’s okay. Feeling a little lost in the midst of this pandemic? maybe our children are too. Following on from yesterday when we did the grateful poster activity at home we included my daughter’s family and loved ones that she is missing right now and we chatted about when she can go visiting again. She is feeling a bit lost and to be honest so am I at times. We need to make sure we are talking with our children about the different feelings they may be experiencing and letting them know that their feelings are normal and shared by many of us adults.

Unfortunately we can’t tell our children when this will all end, when things will go back to ‘normal’ for them, when we will go back to school but we can try and do some fun activities that give them, and us some hope.  We need to make sure our children do not feel trapped in time and that they know that today is for living no matter what the circumstances and we can plan for better times to come too. 

A great activity is to help children to create a summer bucket list and give them things to look forward to. Talk to them about what their wishes for the summer and get them to write these down or draw them on a chart. Some great ideas could be watch the sun rise or set on the beach, visit the zoo, learn a new sport, toast marshmallows on an open fire…  Parents can also do a bucket list of things they would like to do in the summer with their children and compare both lists. Or both children and adults can do one together.

Image result for summer bucket list for kids

 

 Other activities can be built around the above too, for example: tomorrow when we have done our bucket list here at home we are going to take out my daughter’s summer clothes from last year and try them on to see what fits and what doesn’t. Then we will pop on some music and have a fashion show. We can talk about places and activities that she might wear the clothes in the summer, making the summer a reality. We might draw and colour some designs for clothes and talk about the different clothes we wear in different seasons.  There are many printable seasons worksheets online that could be done and if you have no access to a printer children could have a look online and design their own.

Some great ideas on this website if you need inspiration for some other activities:  https://smartmomsmartideas.com/75-free-summer-activities-for-kids/

Please say ‘hi’ to all the children who come to The Nest in school and let them know that we are thinking of them. Hi to all the other children too. Enjoy and stay safe. Ms R. Furlong, The Nest

 

Grateful/ Thankful chart to help reassure our children. Activities for Wednesday, 18/3/2020

I was putting my 5 year old to bed tonight and after our story the conversation turned to death, fear and sadness. She is afraid that she will die, that someone she loves will die and is sad about the changes going on around us. She is missing loved ones and this got me thinking not only about our children who come to The Nest Nurture Room at school, but all our children who are possibly feeling the same or similar feelings and need reassurance. We are inundated at the moment with the negatives of this scary situation on TV so let’s balance it out with the positives still in our lives at home. We talk a lot about being grateful/thankful for the things we have in The Nest at school and at home and tomorrow is a good day to make a Grateful/thankful chart.  Why not try this at home to help the children see all the good things still around them and give them the reassurance that they may need now. There are lots of great ideas online like the ones below or just get out some colours and paper or cardboard from a cereal box and do your own. Enjoy and stay safe. Ms R. Furlong, The Nest

https://stepmomming.com/unique-thanksgiving-traditions/

Lots of follow up activities on this website also.

Feelings

This is an unusual time for us all and for many of our children it can be an anxious time. Children and adults alike will react differently and experience a whole array of feelings/emotions over the next few weeks. We can help them, and ourselves, by doing some simple, easy to do activities with them and you should have all you’ll need at home. Have fun and take care!

R. Furlong