Archive for the ‘Liz’ Category

Exploring Charcoal and Ink Drawing Inspired by Chinese Art.

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

Fifth Class

Loreto Senior, Crumlin.

Fifth class began by exploring all the marks they could make using charcoal. They also used fingers to smudge it and rubbers to draw into the charcoal.

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We played a game of ‘Pass the Drawing’ where each person adds to a drawing and then passes it on. This encouraged the children to find images in the marks.


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Blind Drawing.

Each child got an object in a bag so they couldn’t see it. They felt the object with one hand while drawing what they could feel in charcoal with the other hand.They were very surprised how good the drawings were when they looked at their objects.

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Exploring black and white.

The children used water and watered down black paint individually.

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Then they painted a long scroll together. The following week when the ink was dry they used sticks and black paint to draw over their individual drawings and the scroll.


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Willow Pattern

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The children were studying the Willow Pattern story with their teacher.

The Willow pattern was developed by English ceramic artists in the the18th century by combining and adapting motifs from hand-painted blue and white ceramics imported from China. Characteristically the background colour is white and the image blue, In order to promote sales of Minton’s Willow pattern, various stories were invented based on the elements of the design

We visited the Chester Beatty Library to look at some of the blue and white ceramic vases from China that inspired the ceramic artists in the potteries in Sheffield.

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Hong Ling

We also looked at the paintings and drawings by the Chinese artist Hong Ling in the Chester Beatty Library. The children were very interested in the ink drawings having used this medium themselves.


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Using watered down blue paint the children made ink like drawings inspire by the Willow pattern.

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The following weeks when these images were dry they worked in pairs to create their own stories and create books. They collaged their images from the previous week into their books and added detail and pattern using blue markers.

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Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

Loreto Junior


Mr. Meagher’s Second Class


Second class were exploring space and planets when I began working with them every Monday morning in September.

I thought that it might be good to have space helmets for their exploration.

They began by drawing self-portraits so we could use these drawings as a base for our space helmet design.

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They designed their helmets by making charcoal drawings on transparent paper over their portraits.

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As they were designing them they discussed how they would eat, breathe and communicate in them.

Using silver space material they made their helmets. They put in lots of buttons that had many functions.

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When their helmets were finished they put them on and sent each other space messages. Someone whispered a space message to the next person in the circle using their speaking tubes and then they passed it on, (like Chinese whispers) but theirs were space whispers.


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At the end each person had to write down what they heard.

They made collage about their space travel in their helmets.

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Watching out for Spring

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016

Fourth Class, Loreto Senior Crumlin.

Teacher, Ms. Bennett.

Fourth class began their Creativity in the Classroom sessions on the 1st of February, St.Brigid’s Day. Ms. Bennett and I decided to visit the local park during one of their sessions.

Although we celebrate the beginning of Spring on St. Brigid’s day there was not much sign of it.


We decided to do some observation of nature to prepare the children for the park.

We began drawing from evergreen leaves dried insects. The children used magnifying glasses to look at the patterns in the leaves and insects. This was their first experience of drawing from observation and their response was very positive.


They make print blocks from foam and card. They cut out the shape in the foam and used pen to incise the lines. In groups they made leaf pattern prints.


From their insect drawings they each made a mono-print.

Working Outdoors.

Finally we got a lovely day to go down to the park to work. We began by working out the directions 0f a compass. The children marked in North, South, East and West on the ground using sticks.

Then everyone faced north, closed their eyes and used their senses to feel what it is like. Could they feel the sun? Could they feel the wind on their cheeks? What could they hear? What could they see?

The children were then encouraged to find their own spot and face each direction and write a poem. They were given a structure to help write the poem. This is from a lovely book of outdoor education by Chris Holland, “I Love my World”

We looked at the views from all directions. There are a variety of trees in the park. They were still leafless. We discussed the patterns and shapes in the branches.

They made large drawings using pens tied to the end of sticks.

During the next session in school the children were introduced to charcoal. They spent time trying out different marks and tones.

We looked at trees on the internet and then each child drew a tree in charcoal.

During these weeks signs of Spring were beginning to arrive. Birds were gathering twigs in the school grounds for nesting although the trees were still bare.

The children made papier mache nests. The following week the nests were dry. This was the final session so parents were invited in to work with their children to make birds and eggs for the nests. They used collage and markers. There was a lovely atmosphere of working together.



Cloud Soft Sculptures

Friday, March 4th, 2016

Fifth Class

Loreto Crumlin.

Teacher Ms. O’Brien

The teacher was interested in the children working with fabric, so we decided to explore soft sculpture. I looked at the other areas that the children were exploring in class. They were listening to traditional Irish music, learning tunes on the tin whistle, and looking at our culture. From this I decided we would look at our island, Ireland and where it is situated and it’s climate. We began by looking at a map of Ireland and discussing the weather. So clouds came up as a theme.

The children began by drawing cloud shapes and were shown how to make a paper pattern from these. They really enjoyed the process of each stage. They began to talk about how clothes are made. Sewing was a new experience for most of the children.

When they had the fabric clouds made they created a list of words for different cloudy weather, foggy, spitting rain, soft day etc. Using other materials they changed the textures and added materials to make different types of clouds.

They really enjoyed the challenge of sewing as they did find it difficult but persisted.

Finally when the clouds were made they played around with projecting video images and adding sound using the class whiteboard. Some of the sounds came from traditional music they had been listening to.

Stills from videos.

Third and Fourth Class, Loreto Crumlin Senior

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

Teacher Ms. Murray

24 pupils

Our eight sessions with each class begin with the artist and teacher meeting to find themes and materials to explore with the children. Themes are often one that they are also studying in other subjects.

This ensures that the Creativity in the Classroom programme is unique to each classroom group. As the weeks go on the teacher and artist evaluate each session and decide the direction the programme should go according to this. One of the sessions includes a visit out of school to a museum or gallery. The museum visit also informs us on themes and materials. We invite parents in to view the children’s work and join them in creating work together in the final session.

The beginnings

We began looking at the balcony area off the classroom as a space. It was not being used and Ms. Murray was interested in developing ideas to make this space more interesting. The Creativity in the Classroom programme is not product based but we do explore ideas and materials and in this exploration we have products. Some ideas work and others don’t – trying things out and not being afraid is so important to the programme where children learn to believe in themselves and their ideas. We spend a lot of time discussing each other’s ideas.

The class were also going to study the Aztecs. We began with a slide show looking at two themes – Balcony gardening and the Aztec calendar Sunstone.


The balcony is enclosed so we thought we could bring the sun into the area. We began by looking at patterns in the Sunstone. The children tried out a variety of patterns in oil pastels.

Then they worked in pairs to make a sun pattern. Pair work encourages the children to discuss, listen and compromise.

We brought in waste materials to recycle and use to make planters. We discussed what the plants would need, soil, water and somewhere for the water to drain.

The children explored the materials in a very creative way and we ended up with lots of ideas some practical and others not so practical, all productive in terms of children learning and thinking.  At the end we looked at each other’s ideas to see what we could make that would work for plants.

The children worked on grid paper too work out patterns to hang the bottles on the grid block work of the balcony. We had 24 bottles so the had to find a pattern to fit in 24 squares. Lots of maths to be explored! Finally the bottles were planted with seeds and hung in place. The children are tending the seeds and waiting to see the first signs of growth.

Sun God

We worked with materials that would survive outdoors to create a Sun God. The children explore pattern and shape using wire. They added colour by wrapping the wire in wool and weaving with the wool. Each child explored their own ideas and techniques and shared with the others. Plastic piping was used to create an ‘almost’ circular structure.

During final session before our Christmas holidays we looked at images of New Grange and how our ancestors worshiped the sun. To celebrate the winter solstice the children each made their own suns to take home.

Nick Miller and the Studio of Edward McGuire

We planned to take the children the Nick Miller and the Studio of Edward McGuire at the Irish Museum of Modern Art.

During the session before the visit the children explored portraits using props.

The children began the IMMA visit looking at the contents of Edward McGuire’s studio. Then looking at the paintings they enjoyed finding props in the paintings they recognised from the studio. They quickly began to distinguish Nick Miller’s paintings to Edward McGuire’s. It was a wonderful exhibition to explore how different painters explore the same subject.

Finally the parents were invited in to view a slide show of the children’s work. The children explained the work. We did not get many parents – many of them were working but it is always good to have visitors for the children introduce their work to and it gives them time to focus on their experiences.

The children who had parents work on a collage of the child’s life story together. In the collage they shared stories of special occasions and people. The other children worked on their life story collages on their own.

These collages were then photographed and the images projected on to the faces of the parents and children and photographed again.


Senior Infants, Eight Sessions of Exploring Ideas and Materials

Thursday, November 5th, 2015

Loreto Junior Primary School.

22 pupils, Teacher Ms. McGrane.

Session 1

Senses, texture and clay.

We began by discussing our senses. How many have we, and what are they? If we were missing one which other senses would we use most, example, being blind or deaf.

The children were asked to close their eyes for one minute and listen. How far can we hear? Can we hear beyond where we can see? Can we hear better when we close our eyes?

They explored touch. With their eyes open the children begin to touch their jumpers, their faces, hair etc. How do these textures feel? They began to collect lovely words to describe textures and made up new descriptive onomatopoeic words.

The children were asked to close their eyes again and to put out their hands. An object was placed in each child’s hands. They were asked to keep their eyes closed and to think of words to describe the weight, temperature and textures of their object. (I have a collection of difficult-to-recognise objectss; mainly found washed up on beaches)

When they opened their eyes they took turns telling the class what their object felt like. This builds up their vocabulary and their ability to describe their own and other artwork for future work.

Again they closed their eyes and each child was given a small handful of clay.

They began to mould the clay, to look at the effect it had on their hands. At this point wooden board was placed on the table in front of  each child. They rolled and pounded the clay, remarking on the changes.

They were asked to pound, pinch, poke and pull the clay. Then they made a collection of forms; spheres, cylinders, cubes, and cuboids. They were asked to build a tall tower by balancing the 3d shapes.

Session 2

Texturing clay and building with slabs.

The children were given clay and rollers and shown how to make slabs. Using a variety of tools they textured the clay. They had an opportunity to use the previous week’s vocabulary.

They cut out 2d shapes from the clay slabs, squares, rectangles and triangles. They were shown how they coud build in 3d with these. Rectangles were turned into hollow cylinders, which became castle-towers, squares and rectangles; became house and castle walls and triangles formed part of the roofs.

Session 3

A Visit to Sculpture in Context at the Botanic Gardens.

The children were brought on a trail that included several sculptures, the ponds and the hot houses. We approached each artwork as a group of detectives, asking questions and making suggestions about the work, what it was made of and how it was made. We used all our sense of sight, sound, touch and smell throughout the trail. The children learnt to ‘freeze’and stay quiet when they encountered a squirrel and were very excited at how close they got to them.

Session 4

Responding to the visit to the Botanic Gardens.

We began our session with a slideshow and chat about our visit to the Botanic Gardens. The children were asked to draw the sculptures they remembered.

They were given clay and sticks to make their favourite piece.

Session 5

Exploring the School Garden. Matching and Mask Making

To continue the enthusiasm and enjoyment of being outdoors in nature that the children experienced in the Botanic Gardens we took them to the school gardens. Seven objects were laid out on a rectangle fabric. We spent time looking at each object and the children described the colours, shapes and textures. They were asked to go off and find as many matches to the seven objects, eg. oak leaves, conkers, sticks.

They brought their collected objects back to the class.

Back in class we looked at a book of ceremonial masks. We looked at how each half of the face matched the other half. We looked at what made them different to real faces.

The children drew their own masks.

They were given clay and the objects collected from the garden to make their own masks bearing in mind the matching exercise they did in the garden.

Session 6

The School Garden, Repeat Patterns and Mask Making.

The children enjoyed the previous session in the garden so much that we extended the matching game. Six objects were laid out and the children went off to find ‘matches’ having explored the objects. Six lengths of fabric were laid out on the grass. (There were a lot of leaves on the grass so the white fabric made it clearer to see the collected objects). The children sorted their matched objects on the fabric strips.

The class gathered around the strips. I swopped objects and began to make patterns on each strip. The children began to direct me on what should go on next. They were given turns to continue each pattern.

Back in the class the children were given an assortment of classroom objects to create their own repeat patterns. They laid out patterns on the table. photos

They were given contact paper to glue on the patterns that they would like to keep.

They looked again at the book of ceremonial masks. This time we noticed and discussed the patterns on the masks.

Each child was given contact paper, which had been cut out in a mask shape to create their own symmetrical and repeat patterns.

Session 7

Myself, Clay Work.

As I brought the clay into the classroom the children were asking about it. They were excited about using clay again.

I suggested they would make ‘themselves.’ We all stood up. We all looked down, starting at our feet on the ground. We looked at our body parts. Feet, ankles, legs, knees, bodies, arms, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hands, fingers, necks, heads. We bent our joints. Patricia began to sing  ‘Heads and shoulders, knees and toes’; we all joined in and did the movements.

We discussed how we could make ourselves. I reminded them of the 3d shapes we made in the first session. Would any of those shapes be useful? The suggestions began coming; spheres for heads, cuboids or cylinders for bodies, cylinders for legs.

The children were given clay. Each table had extra pieces of clay in the centre of the table for the children to use, as they needed it. They got to work. We looked at the best way to join the heads, bodies, legs etc.

Initially most of the clay figures were lying down.

Standing a clay figure is difficult. Every now and again I would stop the making and we would look at each other’s work. We looked at the few figures that were standing. The children discussed how they made this work and learnt from each other. Lying-down figures were put in sitting position, chairs were added, then tables, televisions, dogs etc. We looked at how our limbs move. Where are our joints? Figures made to walk, play football, fold their arms etc. Stories began to develop.

Session 8

Parents/Guardians and Children Working Together.

What we like to do Together. Clay.

Parents, grandparents, and a big brother came to our final session. They were shown a slideshow of the seven sessions and the children gave feedback on what they remembered and how they found the experiences.

Adults and Children having Fun Together.

Parents/guardians and children were put into pairs. The children became the teachers for their parents. They were be given clay and asked to make themselves. Then they were asked to put their clay selves together doing what they like to do best together.

Their was great discussion on what they liked to do and then all the details that went with it for instance would they like to have popcorn while watching the film or something else.

Children who didn’t have a parent/ guardian worked happily on their own or with a friend.

We had an exhibition at the end and the parents walked around looking at all the work and asked questions.

The only sadness was at the end where two children were having such lovely quality time with their adult that there were some tears when they had to go, but it didn’t last long.

Response from Ms.McGrane

Maths: The children learned how to make 3D shapes out of clay It was amazing to hear Senior Infants chatting about spheres, cubes and cylinders and then watch them go and make them! They picked up the mathematical language very quickly because they were using it in context.

The session outdoors involved making patterns with natural materials and linked in very well with the patterns we were making in Maths.

Science: The first clay session began with an introduction to the senses. The children closed their eyes and were given objects to hold. They were asked to describe the objects texture. This drew the children’s attention to the importance of the other senses. I really thought they would peep but they didn’t!

The children made themselves in clay, a session which tied in perfectly with the topic of Myself and My Body. They discussed all the body parts and their functions and made themselves in different poses. It was great fun!

S.E.S.E.: The session outdoors linked in with Environmental Awareness and Care and drew the children’s attention to the changes in Autumn. The children loved being outdoors and collecting Autumn treasurers to use in mask making.

Literacy: The senses session also introduced the language of texture e.g. rough, smooth, hard, soft and extended the vocabulary the children already had.

S.P.H.E. The children made themselves in clay doing things that they like to do. This allowed the children to express their individuality and to appreciate the ideas of others.

In summary, the Creativity in the Classroom project was a wonderful learning experience for the children. It provided many cross-curricular learning opportunities and was great fun at the same time. Every child was actively engaged throughout and expressed their individuality through the work.

The Joys of Spring, Fourth Class, St. James’s P.S.

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

Fourth class, teacher Mariessa Harvey asked that we integrating themes from the Spring curriculum through print and construction during our seven sessions.The children began by looking at Irish birds. We looked at their shapes, and patterns from photographs on the Internet. Some children were a bit under confident when asked to draw a bird but they were given plenty of paper to try out different bird drawings before deciding which one to make a monoprint from.

Each group of children at a table had a different colour to begin their print with and then they swopped colours so they could make a multicoloured print.


Multicoloured Bird Prints

Pattern Prints

Using soft foam from a yoga mat and cardboard the children created print blocks. The foam can be cut into the required shapes and patterns engraved into it using a sharp pencil. We discussed shapes and patterns from the theme Spring. Blocks had the texture and shapes of grass, flowers feathers etc.


The children folded their paper into rectangles to help make a repeat pattern with their blocks. For practical reasons each table had one colour of ink, the children chose paper to contrast with the ink colour.


Collage birds

The children used their prints to create collage birds. They experimented with paper first trying folds, curls, tearing etc.


Bird Houses.


Materials – Recycled objects and cardboard boxes.

We spent time first thinking about what is a bird house and what would a bird need in his house. We had a look at bird houses on the Internet. I laid out lots of materials. The children chose to work in pairs groups or individually. They learnt a lot about measuring as they had been doing this in maths and now they could use their rulers to measure for their constructions.


We took one session to build the structure and a second session to add colour and pattern with paint and collage. When they were finished we took them into the school garden and each child or group chose a site for their birdhouse.



Ms. Harvey brought in a beautiful nest that had been abandoned by it’s birds a few year ago. We all admired it and looked at the eggs inside it. The children made up their own nests and decorated polystyrene eggs using tissue paper.


We invited parents and guardians in for the final session.  There was a lovely display in the corridor and classroom of the children’s work. We showed a slideshow of all the work the class have been doing and how it was done.

Then the children and adults worked together on soft sculptures of birds. The session had to be shorted than usual as there was other things happening in the school for the children but despite this they managed to make paper patterns for their birds, pin them on the fabric, sew them, turn them inside out and stuff them.

Exploring Colour

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

St. James’s P.S.

First and third class have been exploring colour over four weeks. They began by using paint on tissue paper. They mixed the paint with enough water so that it would ‘bleed’. The longer they held the brush on the paper the bigger the blot became. Blots joined up and created new colours.

Third class.

First class.

Using a pallet of two red, two yellows and two blues the children painted colour wheels including secondary colours.

Using primary colours the children made long paintings working together. Each child got a primary colour to work with. Each child had to join up their picture with the child/children beside them. They had to join up both the shapes and lines and mix their colours together. The idea was that the space between the child with red and the child with blue would have another painting in purple. The purple nearer the red would more red in it and bluer when it was nearer the blue person. The change was to be gradual. There was great discussion as the children negotiated with each other on lines, shapes and colours.

This is what came out of it.

First class

First class worked over the group painting in chalk pastels when the paint had dried.

Third Class.

Warm and cool colours

The children looked at the colour wheels and discussed what are warm and cool colours. Interesting ideas came up. Red, orange and yellow warm colours, blue green and purple cool colours. But are they? What about a reddy purple? Is that warm or cool?

Using coloured tissue paper and pva glue the children layered the paper on cardboard choosing either warm or cool colours. They decided that if you were creating warm colours you could still use cool colours and make them warm by mixing other colours over them by layering the coloured tissue paper.

First Class

Third Class

For the final session the children invited parents and guardians in to share in the project. Some children’s parents were not able to make it.

The warm and cool cardboard pieces were folded into little boxes. These became ‘stage sets’. With their parents or on their own they made worlds in their boxes.

Cool forests and hot holiday scenes and lots of exciting worlds were created. They used coloured paper, oil pastels, markers and cardboard.

First Class


Third Class


Inspiration from Sculpture in Context, Botanic gardens

Saturday, November 15th, 2014

First Class, Warrenmount.

The children love to visit the Botanic Gardens during Sculpture in Context. The gardens themselves are such a rich resource particularly for pupils from a school that has no green spaces. The children show their joy by running across the grass, collecting plant debris from the ground and touching, smelling flowers and trees.

Finding sculptures all over the gardens add to the feeling of adventure and discovery. We look at the sculptures as a team of detectives, questioning, observing and sharing ideas about the artworks. Often a child who is not very vocal in class becomes animated and pours out lots of ideas.

The following week, back in the classroom the children look at a slide show of the sculpture from their visit and discuss the visit again.

They really enjoyed this sculpture. It is made out of recycled parts- cogs and wheels, and they could see a lot of different patterns from the way it is put together. Inside each cog is a little metal circular tin with dried plants, smaller cogs and drawings trapped in resin. We also looked at another sculpture, which had laminated plants as part of it.

They children took out the plants they had collected from the gardens. They made drawings of some these, and put them through the school laminator.

I found a translucent plastic in which I brought in. Then they trapped the plants between the plastic and added coloured tissue paper with more plants drawings on it.

They held it up to the window to see the light through the trapped drawings and plants.

We put these into transparent circles also collected from Recreate.

The following week the children made leaf drawings on layout paper with soft pencils. Again they held them up to the light noticing that the darker the pencil,  the less light that filtered through. These were over-lapped and framed with more circles from Recreate.


Camouflage and Fairies,First Class, James,s P.S.

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

Teacher Ms. Smith

Artist Liz McMahon

As we were going to visit Sculpture in Context in the Botanic Gardens for our third session I thought it would be interesting to play with ideas of scale to prepare for discussing the sculptures.

I began with drawing with the class. The children tried lots of different marks with soft drawing pencils and black markers. They did big squiggles; little squiggles, big zigzags and little zigzags, and lots more big and small marks.

We then began to talk about Fairies and the size of plates, glasses, and cutlery they would use to eat. We had a few props to help the discussion.

The children then drew table settings for fairies.

During the next session the children had time to explore clay and learn some techniques. They tried rolling our slabs, texturing, and joining the clay. Then they made tables for the fairies.

We had a fantastic visit to the Botanic Gardens. Because we had two sessions before our visit discussing, drawing and making tables for fairies, the children saw fairy environments everywhere. They were very excited.

The visit to Sculpture in Context inspired a theme of camouflage, as it came up that we didn’t see any fairies. But then you don’t see them do you? They are so well camouflaged that they blend it with the garden.

Camouflage Houses.

The children made oil pastel drawings of leaves and collaged them onto cardboard and painted around them.

This cardboard was glued into cylinders to make them into the camouflaged walls of fairy houses. Roofs were added using paper plates and camouflaged.

They added moss, pinecones,  est. to make gardens. The fairies were made to camouflage in a garden also. They used  lollipop sticks, coloured paper, and laminated leaves

Having spent all this time constructing fairy worlds we went back to drawing. Using black paint, a variety of brush sizes and black markers, the children did large collaboration drawings.

For the final session parents and guardians were invited in to work with the children. Lots of collage materials, oil pastels, markers, scissors and glue were available. They made door hangers to let the fairies know that they have lost a tooth. They attached little bags or matchboxes to the hangers to put their teeth in.