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Yesterday morning a very excited group of children along with Mums and Dads met at Sligo train station for our annual visit to the zoo!  The children had been looking forward and counting sleeps for days!  Both morning and afternoon classes were together. It was a glorious day and as the train pulled out of the station ,the children could hardly contain their excitement!

For many it was their first ever train journey and the magic of a moving train whilst looking out at the passing countryside on a beautiful May morning opened up a fabulous new world!  By the time we got to our first stop Collooney, picnics were been shared ! Parents chatted and children visited each other in different seats, playing little games and asking now and then “Are we nearly there yet”?   Surprisingly, the journey went very fast and the children enjoyed every minute of it!  All held tightly to parents hands as we arrived in Dublin and the next adventure was the taxis to the zoo!

On arrival all filed in the gate and immediately the sounds of different animals greeted us!  We could hear the distant call of the  chimps and monkeys and so the “best day ever “was really here.  Dublin is definitely one of the best zoos in the world and each year, as I  visit with the school group, I am amazed at the continual ongoing work including projects that better the lives of the animals there.   Over the years Dublin Zoo has created natural habitats for the animals whilst taking part in a world wide programme for breeding endangered animals and returning them to the wild.   I had already explained to the children that the zoo is not the real home of the animals but was a safe place where they can live for awhile!  The children are already familiar with many of the animals from different continents due to our project work;  but now we can really see them.

Wow!!  The childrens excitement was contagious!  Everything was new and wonderful and we were so lucky to see the elephants calf born only last Monday to the proud mother elephant Yasmin – so cute and maybe we ll think up a name for him!!  The gorillas were a great hit, lovely gentle giants whose home is been destroyed by us humans as we all contribute to the cutting of rain forest.  We picnicked, ambled along ,stopped and relaxed in lovely natural play areas and just had one great day!

 

On Wednesday afternoon ,the afternoon children,along with mums,dads,siblings and I went to Lissadell for our annual”Teddy Bear Picnic”!It was a perfect day with blue sky and sunshine! The children were very excited and enjoyed building sandcastles and paddling in the sea as a gentle breeze  blew.Mums and Dads chatted and relaxed together!The sea  air gave all an appetite and mums produced delicious picnics which were enjoyed by all. The  children shared their special treats with each other as sharing is an important part of school life!The highlight of the day was a walk in the woods,which is still covered in bluebells and looking so magical.And what a surprise lay in store…..the teddy bears had left lollipops for all on a magic tree,the lollipop tree!!

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On Wednesday a very proud Lana Maye cycled to school on her own bike with her Mum cycling along side her! She had only mastered 2 wheels a few days beforehand and so it was quite a feat for a small girl! We were very impressed! As the children gathered around her,she produced a little pygmy shrew from her basket! She had found him the night before in the green beside her home.All were fascinated by  this little creature,Ireland s smallest mammal which was Ella s “Irish mammal project” last October!Once again,our classroom coming to life outdoors.

 

One summers evening last year whilst babysitting my then 2 year old grandson,Michael,who was reluctant to sleep,I.took him for a walk in his pyjamas down the field to the barn. As we approached the yard and looked up at the sky we could swallows flying in and out. I  pointed to the many nests and we watched the parents flying  as they fed their hungry chicks. Michael asked why there were so many swallows and I told him that this was “Swallow Town” and they had come all the way from Africa!!It was a magical evening as I shared something special with Michael and from then on the barn became Swallow Town!!

Last September we watched the swallows gather on the wires and leave for Africa and Early April we welcomed them back again. The children really enjoy the walks down the field to Swallow Town as we watch the swallows swoop above our heads in their search for insects.The hedgerows are full of bird song and much fun is had trying to listen and identify the different songs!
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We have been blessed with perfect weather since our return back to school after the Easter break.It has been school outdoors every day .Before our eyes and as we watched ,first the cherry,then the pear and damson and now the apple trees all produced their blossom.The children are able to observe the bees doing their work transporting pollen from flower to flower and already can see the tiny fruits beginning to grow on the trees. The indoor work is beginning to make sense as we see real things happen in the outdoor environment!Tomatoes,beans,peas,lettuces are growing fast and we have transplanted them into the raised beds.

As always,the children are fascinated with invertebrate life.Snail collecting was the highlight of last week with Harry B  and Eamon competing to see who could find the most snails!It always delights me to see the respect the children hold for these little creatures.Whilst some snail hunt in the orchard,others practice climbing apple trees.As the trees are small and strong much fun is had here!

We are enjoying picnics in the field.races in meadow and just having fun. Its what this special time of pure innocence is all about!