Ms. 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