The METNS 6th Class first Nature Moves outing – finding the roots of inspiration.

DLR Primary Arts Blog, Session 1, 26 March 2014
Monkstown Educate Together NS 6th Class
Artists: Robert Connor & Loretta Yurick, Dance Theatre of Ireland

Our dlr Creative Practitioners in Primary Schools project with the 6th Class at Monkstown Educate Together National School (METNS) is entitled Nature Moves. It takes nature as a source for exploring and creating dance, and engages students physically with their natural environment. It involves bringing the students through a number of experiential learning activities in two different local nature settings, working with Environmental Educator Mouse (Andrew Fleming) of OWLS. The remaining sessions will explore the nature of dance, with the students learning set material and creating their own dances inspired by nature and their outdoor experiences.

Our first session started on a misty morning on Killiney Hill. Thankfully it soon lifted and we were spared a soaking. But then again there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear.

Mouse introduced the concepts of predator, prey and survival, engaging the students (the predators) immediately with the challenge of trying to catch him (the prey). Try as they might, they did not succeed, as he demonstrated how small animals have protective strategies, even feigning injury, to fool their predators and thereby escape. His “limp” was a ruse, luring the students into thinking he would be easy to catch, and instead he easily scampered past them.

Food storage and retrieval became a practical matter as each student was given a nut to hide, and at the end of the session we would return to see if they could find it.

Other activities were about sensory awareness, focusing some senses, e.g. hearing and touch, when light was diminished, in the way that nocturnal animals navigate in the dark. A “caterpillar walk” took blindfolded students past ivy thickets, over, under and around trees, past stumps and rocks, all being discerned without vision. Afterwards, with their blindfolds removed, they tried to retrace the path they had just traveled.

Climbing and balance challenges included traversing a number of fallen trees. Confidence grew as each student had a go (or two or three) at crossing the logs, some low, some higher. Some even tried blindfolded!

Looping back via the coastal vista, in pairs the students identified “photo frames” for each another, taking turns choosing a particular sight for the other to view; sky, trees, roots, colour, pattern. Everyone appreciated the sea view, even on this shrouded day.

Back to find the hidden nuts, the last task before going. Seventeen students found the nuts (out of 28 that was a pretty good return; Mouse had predicted 10!)

The METNS 6th Class first Nature Moves outing – finding the roots of inspiration.

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