Dalkey School Project Educate Together Session 12 Celebrate!

As this was our last session together we invited our parents and some siblings to join us for a reflection on all we have done together and to enjoy a puppet show.

We used images on the blog and the children’s memories to share what we enjoyed best. Then the children chose to work in groups behind the puppet screen. When the puppets took over it became very lively.

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It was great to see the puppet characters emerging through their play and improvised performances.IMG_0072

“This is Humpty Dumpty’s cousin and his name is Matt”

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Lily the puppet on the left: “I like eating pancakes all the time, so I can get fat. I like to spend time with my sister, Isabel”

Isabel, puppet on right: “My favourite thing is going into Fairy Doors and wandering off and I love rainbows and I am 7”IMG_0075 2

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The children were delighted to bring their puppets and books home and after the excitement of the show and visit from the parents, they settled down and continued working in them.


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.

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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

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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.

St. Augustine’s : 2 Coloured Portraits and Paper Puppets

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Art Room Hour

We had last week’s work spread out on the tables for them to look at again, inviting them to an “Exhibition”. We also had last week’s visual resources on the table as part of the exhibition. We used these to discuss things we liked about the various portraits, focussing more on colour this time and telling the children that we had decided to give them a chance to paint their portraits as some of them had started looking for colour the previous week. Once aproned up, each child was given a palette of primary colours plus black and white, a small and a large paintbrush, water, blue tissue and an A2 sheet. We encouraged them to fill the page and they all set to with enthusiasm. If they asked for advice re colour mixing we assisted. If they were happy making colour discoveries alone we let them at it. It was clear that their experience of working with glazes in the Art Room on previous occasions was standing to them here, they were comfortable and confident with the paint. Soon the agitation of their arrival had calmed and everyone was focussed and at work. The adults were enjoying the variety of the children’s approaches and the rich use of colour. Afterwards we photographed all the work and the children helped with the clean up.

Classroom Hour

After lunch, in the classroom, we looked again at the “puppet show curtains” one of the girls had made last week and I invited them to make characters to go inside. I showed how they might do so by drawing the characters onto the water colour paper using the coloured pencils they had enjoyed using the previous week. This week, however, none of them took up the invitation to add water to them as they had tried the previous week – I think they were too eager to get the puppets on stage.

The teacher felt cutting them out might be too much of a challenge, so we asked the children to cut out as much of it as they could and then she and I finished off using my paper knives and cutting mats, this allowed for one or two to work independently. During the process we chatted about who the characters might be. A couple of the boys chose to make “mini me”s perhaps inspired by the portrait sessions. Once they were cut out we used double sided tape to stick them to lollipop sticks, one on the body and one on a hand for simple gestures. I made a rough demo, describing it as such, and showed how the character could appear and disappear from the stage.

When they began work I set up the curtains one of the girls had made the previous week, on one of the tables turned on its end and supported it with cartridge paper and wooden skewers. One of the boys cut out the shape in the middle so that the puppets could appear there. Everyone was very pleased with this arrangement and excited to perform, so as soon as they were ready we arranged the chairs opposite as an audience and the children took turns to go up in pairs. We didn’t have time to do much with them, but it was interesting to see that a pair of puppets discussed personal space as the children had been asked to consider earlier in the session, and there was lots of laughter and enjoyment. I asked the children to leave the puppets with us in the hope that we might have time to return to them again, and invited the teacher, in whose care they were left, to use them also with them if she saw fit. I won’t be able to return to them again till February so we exchanged seasons greetings before I left.


Art room hour.

School to provided:

Primary colours of paint, plus white and black.

Palettes for mixing, water containers

Thick and thin brushes

A2 sheets of heavy cartridge paper

Toilet /Kitchen / Blue roll

Aprons / overalls

Newspapers for table

Classroom hour

School to provided:

A5 sheets of water colour paper


Double sided tape

Lollipop sticks 2 per child

The coloured pencils we used last time

Child’s puppet show curtains from previous week.

Niamh brought:

Paper knives and cutting mats

Camera and tripod

dlr Primary Arts, 5th Class Scoil Cholmcille, Ballybrack 5th Dance Session, 9 March – Watch Me! and Call & Response!

Artist: Robert Connor, Dance Theatre of Ireland

It comes as no surprise that music is a great influence when it comes to dance.  I had asked the students to offer their suggestions for music that they would like to dance to, as they had asked a few times whether I had certain songs.   While I might love some old favourites in the Pop and world music genres, as they work well for tempo rhythm and clean lyrics, it’s great to get an injection of newer sounds.  So Ms. Keenan collected the suggested tracks, and together with the class, edited the list to a few.  “How Deeps is Your Love”, Calvin Harris, “Watch Me Nae Nae”, Silento, and “Sorry” Justin Beiber made the shortlist.

So this week the warm-up sound track changed to “How Deep is Your Love” and with a familiar tune, there was bigger energy input to the movement.  We had a go at “Watch Me”, which comes fully kitted with a dance routine that everyone (but me) knows and we unapologetically improvised to Beiber.

Interestingly, when we danced “Watch Me”, even though there are moves that come with the song, there were differing ideas amongst the students as to what those moves are and how they are performed…this opened a discussion about interpretation, individual styling of moves and interpreting movement from video.

And it sent me looking afterwards to youtube!  It’s a catchy track if you haven’t heard it, but you probably have, since it’s nearly as popular as “Gangnam Style”.

It’s one thing to do popular moves to popular music…they are already affirmed in mass culture.   It’s a great way to get everyone engaged and dancing.  I’m also trying different structures for each student to explore and value their own movement, and to pick up and value each others’ movement.

Call and response is a group technique we use in body percussion, whereby one person proposes a rhythm and the others copy/repeat the rhythm.  Standing in a circle, each student took a turn at making a stomping, clapping rhythm, and everyone else tried to copy.  It trains the ear as well as the eye for picking up quickly, as well as staying in sync with each other.

This also prepared for a similar game, Signature Moves, which works in the same structure, with each person making an individual movement, and then everyone copying them after.  We kept “Sorry” in the background to give a 4 beat tune.  Everyone had a couple turns as we went around the circle.  Some proposed quite energetic moves, while others were shy and declined to have a turn.  In this game there’s room for both choices; there’s always an invitation to try…and try again.

Which we’ll do in other way in weeks to come.

Choreographing and Creating

After the video session we discussed dance as another form of language. Choreographers use it to express emotions, represent relationships, comment on social and political issues, in a way that words and speech may not be able to. That’s the beauty of it!

In our next session everyone was given the task to make up one or two moves that expressed how they were feeling about leaving school this year. Once the girls were happy with these I put them into groups of three where they began teaching eachother their individual moves and then combined them together to make a short phrase. Each group then shared their short trios at the end of the session and we all got to see the wonderful variety of movement and creativity that emerged. I was delighted with the out come of this and impressed with some of the original ideas, creative use of space and interesting interpretations of the task that arose.

Both the girls and I wanted to spend more time on these so we carried the trios into the next few sessions. We worked on extending them as well as clarifying the movement quality, pacing, rhythm and performance within each trio. I also got the groups to help each other by breaking the class into three larger groups with three trios in each. Two groups would look at the other trios work and give them useful feedback and helpful suggestions, swapping round so everyone gets a chance to share as well as feedback.

We are currently working towards a small sharing where we will show a few of the different techniques, sequences and creative works we have explored over the course of our sessions together. We had a great session this week where we started putting sections of work together. I was really impressed with the concentration and quality which the girls brought to this and I’m excited we are going to have a chance to share this work with the rest of the school.