Found Words

Inspiration From a Visit to Sculpture in Context at the Botanic Gardens.



School: Our Lady of Lourdes, Goldenbridge

Teacher: Mr. Dillion

Class: Fifth

The artist and printmaker Aoife Dwyer’s art work called “Kept Words” depicted a series of relief metal plates with words from an old addition of the Junior Oxford Dictionary with their meaning.

(This work I presume is in response to the loss of words associated with the natural world from the current Junior Oxford Dictionary.)

The writing on one of the metal plates encouraged the viewer to take rubbings from these. The words named the natural world and explained their meaning. The children took rubbings and brought these back to the classroom.

The following session I brought in my book “The Lost Words” to show them and read out the first paragraph.

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“Once upon a time, words began to vanish from the language of children. They disappeared so quietly that at first almost no one noticed – fading away like water on stone. The words were those that children used to name the natural world around them: acorn, adder, bluebell, bramble, conker – gone! Fern, heather, kingfisher, otter, raven, willow, wren … all of them gone! The words were becoming lost: no longer vivid in children’s voices, no longer alive in their stories.” The Lost Words, Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris. Hamish Hamilton 2017.

I chose the words from the book that named plants, animals and birds that we have in Ireland and wrote them up on the board. Children were asked to put up their hands when I called out a word if they thought they knew what it was. This is the score from 24 children.

Acorn                  20

Bluebell              12

Bramble               0

Conker                19

Dandelion          22

Fern                      2

Heather                0

Heron                    1

Ivy                        15

Kingfisher             0

Lark                       0

Magpie                18

Newt                      2

Otter                     11

Raven                   14

Starling                  2

Willow                   2

Wren                     3


I then showed slides of each plant, animal and bird and they took turns to describe what they saw.

I brought in plain t-shirts and suggest that we make these words known by printing them on the t-shirts. They were very enthusiastic. We added some more words from their rubbings taken in the Botanic Gardens.

I showed how we would have to do mirror writing to make the word the right way around when printed.

This was hard work and many had to redo their words several times and even still letters escaped and came out back to front. I think it worked very well – makes the word catch you eye even more.


3 4 5

1 2

3 4

5 6

7 8

9 10

11 12

13 14

This was our last session. The following day the children were going to wear their t-shirts out in the playground.

We looked at the slides again and each child who had that word on their t-shirt introduced the plant, animal or bird to the class. Hopefully they could tell others on the playground what their word meant.




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