Session 11 Dalkey School Project Senior Infants. Finished Puppets LIVE!

I began by using my puppet to introduce some ways of making hair. This resulted in it being awarded purple hair by the children, completely changing its character in a very interesting way.  Then the children set to, to finish their own puppets. Again, they were very excited and it was a very busy session.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As they finished, they used their notebooks to think up some biographical information about their puppet – having been asked to make 3 “I am…” sentences that their puppet might say to explain about their self when they meet another puppet. 

After their break we made a simple puppet booth and the children, in pairs or threes, had a chance to practice saying some of this to the audience of the rest of the children. 

The children really enjoyed this. I noticed, that, as usual, puppets can be quite bold and rude. My puppet and I gave them some performance tips where necessary.


We also tried to connect via Skype with another Educate Together Senior Infant Class in Dublin 11 who were working with puppets, but unfortunately we had a technical hitch and this was not possible.

For my next, last, visit the parents are coming to help us celebrate all we have done together and to see an improvised puppet show. Then, at last, the children will be able to take their books and puppets home.

Session 10, Dalkey School Project. Painting and Dressing our Puppets

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

First we met our rod puppet again, who with help from the children talked us through what we needed to do next to our puppets. These had dried very nicely, very few needed repairs. Those children who had been absent the previous week were able to catch up quickly with heads from polyballs with Lolly sticks glued into a slit in them. They were able to quickly make the hands from cardboard kitchen rolls as their classmates had.

The puppet helped us with a quick recap on paint mixing – I advised that we would focus on skin colours first, on the face and hands, and we talked about how to make darker or lighter skin colours. When the puppets were painted, we then glued on their eyes, being careful to leave them lying down and resist the desire to play with them. It was such a busy session that afterwards they had the quietest lunch break ever!


After yard I showed the children how to fold and cut a rectangle of fabric or socks to make the clothes for the puppet. We glued the head and hands into the centre and middle corners of the fabric to make the body. We used pipe cleaners also to help hold them in place while the glue dried, and make nice collars. The children had brought in lots of lovely things to make with, it was like Christmas for a while as the children opened the bags, and they were good at sharing with each other where necessary. 

We used

Brown gummed roll (for quick repairs and strengthening)

Paint, palettes, brushes

Small beads, sequins, buttons etc for eyes,

Fabric, socks etc

PVA, 15 small pots , 30 lolly sticks to apply it.

Pipe cleaners

Wools feathers etc


I brought

Rod Puppet

Spare socks

Their notebooks, Hole punches for additional pages.

Session 9 Senior Infants Dalkey School Project. Puppet making begins!

After a quick recap on our Lexicon visit to see if they had stories /memories of images that might prove inspiration for today’s work, we began a process of puppet making.

They first met a rod puppet who showed them how he was made and asked them to make some friends for him. We discussed a little what they might like to make, and their teacher found some images of animals for them on the interactive whiteboard as there was a lot of interest in making animals.

We then examined the shape of our heads, using our fingers with our eyes closed, and looking at each other’s profiles with our eyes open.

Then we covered the tables, and rolled up our sleeves. The children tore newspaper into small pieces until each had a pot full. Deborah noted how this was good for their manual dexterity. I noted that it takes this age group much longer to complete this than a group even a year older. When they were done they tipped out their newspaper and each got an inch or so of glue in the bottom of their pot. They then stirred the newspaper pieces back in gradually, with a lolly stick, until they were all mulched into the glue. When they were ready I showed them how they might model a head out of the glue onto their lolly stick, looking at the difference in shape of head of an animal, say a horse, or a dog, to a human. We discussed various placement of eyes etc.

After the break we looked at the shape of our hands and discussed how to draw them, the children described the shape of the fingers closed as a hill, and we decided the thumb coming out the bottom was a bridge. We looked also at how hands are opposed to each other. We also discussed paw and hoof shapes for the animals. I showed them how to draw a hand / hoof onto kitchen roll cardboard after each child had cut their half roll in half again. The children then drew their hand  / paws / hooves and we taped one to a second lolly stick, all was labelled and set out on trays to dry for next week.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Session 8 Visiting Arrival exhibition in The Lexicon. Senior Infants, Dalkey School Project

Today we went on the no 7 bus to visit the exhibition in the Lexicon Gallery on the theme of Arrival.

IMG_9650We worked in our table groups and looked at and chose pieces we particularly liked like Curators. We shared our favourites with our group and got a chance to talk about them together.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Afterwards we made drawings inspired by what we had seen using chalk pastels. Then we made our own exhibition of our pictures.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Session Two: ‘The One’

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Artist: Helen Barry

Teacher: Bríd McGovern

Class: Junior Infants (4&5yrs)

School: Our Lady Of Mercy School Convent

 I believe that I have just found ‘The One’ but not in the romantic kind of way we normally hear that term being used. As I observed Bríd attending to her class throughout the session I realized that she is ‘The One’; the attention to preparation; colour coding organizing systems that allow the children to naturally follow a routine; intermittently introducing movement exercises at key moments to help the children re-focus; clarity about aims and outcomes of the interaction with the children. I am certain that I will discover more along over the coming months as well as learning how to fine-tune my obsessive need for colour coordinated systems. Each time I embark on a new artist-in-residence with dlr Primary Arts I find the wealth of the teachers experience has a huge impact on my practice and approach to collaborating with children.

The focus of our second session was on building structures. Initially I have planned to work on a small scale in twos and threes and then move into a bigger build inviting the children to work as a class group. We had time constraints so we dived straight into the big build. We cleared the classroom of chairs and pushed the desks to the edges giving us as much room as possible.

We started with a few listening and stretching exercises. I showed the children our materials, highlighting the colour coding of each! Each child was given a 2 metre grey insulation pipe and two pieces of Velcro. We played, listened, bended, wrapped and wriggled our piping just to get the feel of it. The Velcro was used to tie the ends of the piping together around ourselves. Then to add to the challenge we linked our circular pipe to the person next to us. It was very fortunate that a few sixth class students were available to assist us. Once connected we moved about the room as if we were one single unit. The girls are junior infants and took to this extremely well even though this was quite a challenging task.

Now that we had a sense of what the pipes could do I introduced a series of cardboard boxes with pre-cut holes and all colour coded (Bríd was the first person to note the time it took to do this). The children then pushed a piece of piping into the corresponding hole in each cardboard box. The Velcro was added to strengthen our structure as it grew. The shape of the structure is an invitation to play, so naturally we responded and the children crawled in and out and explored the space a little. This became even more interesting when we added the transparent fabric on top of the piece.

As time was tight we were limited to how much time could be given to exploring and playing. I get a sense that the children would like to build on this scale again. Now that they have an understanding of what can be created with the materials it will really interesting to see where they take the idea of building and playgrounds. With minutes to spare Bríd suggested that the children assisted in deconstructing the piece as this was as equally important to the building of the structure. With almost 30 pairs of hands we had the room back to normality in good time leaving us time to plan for the festive season ahead.






Session 7 Paintings on the Theme of Arrival. Senior Infants, Dalkey School Project

We liked when we did painting.

Our water turned different colours.


In The foreground we see Luke’s painting.


Lola by Lena “I learnt how to make pink” 



Smyths (Toy Shop) by Ronan


No Idea by Matty


Living in a Palm Tree by Juno 
“I used Blue and Yellow to make green” 


Lving in The Trenches by Charlie


Holidays by Alice


Arriving at a restaurant by Holly


I by Leo


I am Arriving to Horse Riding by Zara


Dark Plane by Tristan



Pigs on a Pirate Ship by B.


Secret Hideout Treasure Colour Land by James GOB


Sweetie Land by Dylan


The Rainbow by Indy


Secret Hideout by James M


The Zip from Sidney


The Zipline by Lucy


I by Matt


Autumn Autumn Autumn by Sylvia


Spider by Annie


Colour Land by Luke R


Snow in The Horse by Mina


Back to the Past to the Dinosaur World by Peter (formerly known as Finn)
“I used grey and white to make Black” 


Me and Dylan on a playdate by Maud


Friends Playdate (with Coconut Trees) by Anna


Untitled by Warren


When I went out on the Sea by Brandon

The children had already been told that we were going on a trip next week so they were full of questions about that. I told them that we were going to see an exhibition where Artists were asked to respond to a theme. We discussed what a theme was first (using Halloween and Christmas) and then wondered about the theme Arrival that the Artists responded to in this exhibition. It wasn’t the easiest word for us, we nearly got diverted into A Rival and A Rifle, and we took a brief detour into Driving. I suggested we write a poem instead, but this idea was shot down and we continued with our discussion until we came to an understanding. I love that for this age group Arrival is all about Zip lines, Pirate Ships and Toy shops. I invited them to make a painting themselves on the theme of Arrival which was greeted with enthusiasm. We gave them some “dreaming time, eyes closed, heads down on the desk to think about what they would choose to do while we gave out Palettes, organised tables etc. Then, just before they began, we paused again to remember some of what we learnt from our previous session. They remembered both about mixing colours and also about how they should try not to put paint on the floor or paint their hands.

I liked when we stuck the titles on our paintings

As the children finished each made up a title for their painting (although some chose to leave them Untitled). This will help us have our own online exhibition of their paintings. This is also a beginning of story making. When we discussed how next week they will have a chance to make some Art in response to the exhibition, they wanted to know if their work would then be shown in the Gallery. So we decided that if there’s time we will have an exhibition in the Project Room, photograph them to make an online exhibition and then they can also bring them home.

Before I left we looked at the Lexicon on Google Maps and imagined our journey along the route as if it was a story.

We looked at how to get to the Lexicon on the Computer website. We learned that there is different places in Dún Laoghaire.

We then collected some reflections on the session on the whiteboard which you see quoted here.

We finished by looking at a picture of the Lexicon online and looking at our journey on the map. Finger Puppet Mrs Heart / Ban Uí Chroí had been requested earlier, so she came out of my pocket for a quick Hello and was given permission to accompany us next week.

The school supplied:

30 plastic trays / palettes (Recreate)

1-20 water containers,

Large and small brushes

Red, blue, yellow primary colours, white and black

30 A3 cartridge papers

Small pieces of paper for titles

I brought

Newspaper, folded sheets for under water / paint trays

A Puppet who loves colour in case we need her, and Mrs Heart.

Session 6 Dalkey School Project Senior Infants: A Solstice Celebration


The children who missed Christmas

As it was the last session before Christmas and the winter solstice it seemed apt to have some kind of celebration. The children have been asking to make some puppets, so I told them that although it would usually take more than one session to make a puppet we would make some very simple puppets in order to do it one, and that after Christmas we can look at more considered ways of making.
Just to underline what we had done the previous week however, which I felt had been important, we had a brief look at the blog first, and read out the headline quote one girl had made summarising their learning.
I then took out my Viking storyteller puppet, who is currently dressed as Mamaí na Nollaig, and she told them some short viking myths about the origins of Christmas traditions, and asked them to tell or create some winter or Christmas stories in return.

The Grinch, Red Ninja, Mary and Baby Jesus and a Skeleton Monkey

We asked them to work in their table groups to tell a simple story about winter or Christmas. We gave them a little time first to decide what is going to happen in their story.  Asking them to focus on choosing one or two places where it would take place, and three or four characters who take part. Reminding them that characters don’t all have to be human, they could be animals, or even talking objects if they like.

The Ghost flies Scrooge through the streets


The ghosts visit Scrooge in his bed


Tiny Tim and a ghost

When they were ready we asked one or two children in each group to volunteer to make a picture of the place(s) on an A2 piece of paper and the other 3-4 children to make simple card puppets of the characters in the story simply by drawing, colouring and cutting out the character. When these were done we helped them add a lolly stick handle underneath these. I also helped the set builders by doing some simple cutting out with a paper knife to help the puppets interact with them.



Salt in the playground


Unfortunately the session was a little rushed as we started a bit late and needed to finish early for a special assembly, so they hadn’t much time to play and practice the story. But after their break they improvised them for each other and Mary Mary. To save time I hung the sets beside each other. We had no time to prepare performance skills but the puppet was able to help mediate the stories a little bit for the watching children. I was interested to note how the audience were mostly quiet and attentive, keen to hear the others’ stories, despite the difficulties in doing so – the children playing the stories were mostly very absorbed, often to the detriment of the view of the “audience”.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A3 pages / light card on which to make the setting images
Light card eg: from cereal boxes collected by the children and artist
Lolly sticks, approx 30
Blu or white tack to fix props to
Twistables and crayons
Pencils and rubbers
30 scissors
Pritt stick
I also brought
Cutting mats and knives for adults to help with any very detailed cutting.