Making Connections for St. Patrick’s Day

We sent St. Patrick’s Day Greetings near…

to blogging friends in St. Peter’s Bray:


and far ….

all the way to Auroa School, in New Zealand


Click on this link to see what

Room One, Auroa School in New Zealand

had to say about the bits and bobs we sent them.


Below is Larry the Leprechaun in

St. Peter’s in Bray.


Why not leave a message for our blogging buddies

in Bray and New Zealand.

They are a friendly bunch and we know

they would LOVE to hear from you.

BeFunky_St Peter's Tweet.jpg

Larry the Leprechaun certainly

got around in the past week or so!


@StPetersBray ‘Bye Bye Polly’

It was with a heavy heart we said good bye to Polly today.

It was great to meet her. She taught us a lot about Polar Bears,

why they are endangered and how we can help them.



Thank you to the boys and girls of 2nd Class, St. Peter’s, Bray

for sending her on a visit to us.

We are sending her back now and hope that she will arrive safely.

The Pukeko from Auroa visits St. Brigid’s School, Greystones, Wicklow, Ireland.

Screenshot from Mr.Webb @ Auroa

Mr Webb and Room One, Auroa School sent us a package. They asked us to take some photographs of the Pukeko, (their school mascot) around our school 🙂


The Pukeko arrived at St. Brigid’s School:


The Pukeko met our mascot ‘Brigid, the Biodiversity Bee’


and checked out some bird houses on our grounds:


and advised the students on their mental maths 😉


We were interested in this bird and looked it up online.

Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Juan Parada via Compfight

Mr Webb told us that the Pukeko mascot carries the tools that the students use in school. We are wondering what they might be! This reminds us that students in New Zealand appear to get a very practical education and learn lots of useful life skills.

Thank you again Mr. Webb and Room One, Auroa School.

Sunshine from Auroa, New Zealand – Part One ;)


Today was a grey day in Greystones.

Then the postman came

and brought with him

some sunshine from New Zealand.


Our old friend Mr. Webb

with whose class from Hamilton, Wellington, New Zealand

we did a lot of co-operative learning in 2013

has relocated to Auroa School, Taranaki, New Zealand.


Mr. Webb has a new class blog

Mr. Webb’s Class: Room One, Auroa School, Taranaki, New Zealand.

It’s official ‘opening’ was Monday 3rd February 2014,

so it is brand new.


To mark this occasion, Mr. Webb

sent packages to a number of schools

all over the world.


So ours arrived today

and brightened our day.


So to Room One, Auroa School

and their teacher Mr. Webb,

we would like to say

Halloween Traditions in Ireland – Especially for our friends in Room 5, Melville Intermediate School, Hamilton, Waikato, New Zealand.

We got this message from our good friends

in Melville Intermediate School, Hamilton, New Zealand.

Message from Hamilton 1

This is our reply:


Hi there,

Most certainly we celebrate Halloween:D

In many ways the more recent additions to our traditions are influenced by the USA,

for example, as you say in your message, dressing up in costumes and going ‘trick or treating’.

Waning Gibbous Moon
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Biscuit in Pursuit via Compfight

However a celebration at this time of year

goes way back into the ‘mists of time’.

Here in the Northern Hemisphere

we needed something to cheer us up

as the cold, dark nights arrive,

so the Celts marked the end of Summer

and the start of the Winter months, 

with a celebration called Samhain; ‘All Souls’.

Playing With Fire
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: cobalt123 via Compfight

It was said that the souls of those who had passed

into the next world came to visit at this time. 

The celebration marked the end of Summer

and the start of the Winter months.

The time of the Celts in Ireland was 2000BC – 400AD.


Here are some Irish Halloween Traditions:

Traditionally for dinner there was ‘Colcannon’;

a plate of mashed potato, cabbage and onion.

Pennies were wrapped up in baking paper

and placed in the mash for children to find and keep!

Slow-Cooker Corned Beef & Cabbage with Colcannon: Colcannon with Butter
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: I Believe I Can Fry via Compfight

The traditional Halloween cake is barmbrack which is a fruit cake.

Once again you would have to be careful eating this

or you would break your teeth

because there were ‘tokens’ hidden in it.


If you got the rag then the next year would be a poor one.

If you got the coin then you could look forward to a year of riches.

Finding the ring was said to predict an engagement.

Irish fruit brack
Photo Credit: sylvar via Compfight

If you wanted to find out who your future partner might be

you were advised to peel an apple in one go.

The single apple peel was then dropped on the floor

to show the initials of this mystery person.

Jack O'Lanterns
Photo Credit: Joe Shlabotnik via Compfight

The tradition of Jack O’Lanterns travelled from Ireland to the USA.

But originally the Irish carved out turnips.

When the Irish emigrated to America there was not a great supply of turnips

so pumpkins were used instead. Pumpkins are easier to carve than turnips too!


Though the tradition of wearing costumes and ‘trick or treating’

seems to have been imported from the USA,

a tradition of wearing disguise also dates back to Celtic times.

By disguising themselves people superstitiously believed

that the souls who were visiting would leave them alone.


Halloween Games include ‘Snap Apple’.

An apple is suspended from a string and children are blindfolded.

The first child to get a decent bite of the apple gets to keep their prize.

A variation of this game involves hanging a bar of soap with the apple.

The risk was then that one would get a mouthful of soap instead of apple.

‘Bobbing for Apples’ can be played by placing apples in a basin of water

and trying to get a grip on the fruit!

halloween party 030
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Ted via Compfight

The Halloween bonfire is another tradition

and a more modern addition is the use of fireworks,

though they are illegal in Ireland.

It is important to be safe on Halloween.

halloween's harvest

Creative Commons License Photo Credit: pipnstuff via Compfight


It may well be that Halloween is a Celtic Tradition from Europe

that travelled with the emigrants to the USA.

In the ‘New World’ these traditions took on a new lease of life

and were re-exported back to Ireland

repackaged perhaps in a more commercial way.


Thanking you for your continuing comments and interest in our blog

all the way from New Zealand 🙂


We wonder does New Zealand have a Halloween Tradition?


With every good wish …

‘If Only The Best Birds Sang’.


UPDATE1: If you click on the ‘KEEP READING’ button below, you can see Mr. Webb’s reply 🙂

UPDATE2: Thank you to Mr Webb who put a link about our blog

on Room 5 Melville’s page HERE.

Halloween in Ireland

Irish School Blogs – How to improve your blog

Day 29. Street Photography (1 of 7)
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Clifton Johnston via Compfight

This week I wrote about how Irish teachers

can find an audience for their class blogs.

You can read Part One here 

and Part Two here.


Entering a competition like the Irish 

Junior Spider Awards is a very valuable exercise

and one I would recommend.

Reviewing your class blog with the criteria 

from the Junior Spider Awards in mind

is an excellent self improvement exercise.


In the same way the bi annual 

Edublogs Student Blogging Challenge

can help you develop your blog

and put you in touch with schools

all over the globe.


It is conducted over ten weeks.

Here are the Frequently Asked Questions

about the Edublogs Student Blogging Challenge.


The next blogging Challenge is in September

and you can sign up now.


Last March there was only one Irish participant

and to date no one from Ireland has signed up this time.


Our experience was that as a result of participating

last March, we made contact with many schools from

all over USA, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand.


In The Beginning
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Bill Gracey via Compfight


Asking someone to do a simple ‘audit’ your blog.

is a simple but effective way of

discovering ways to improve your blog.

Ask your ‘auditor’, their  first impressions, 

what they found interesting

and what they found distracting?

You might observe them as they navigate your blog

and ask them how you might better it.

In this way you may get more insights as to how improvements might be made.

Irish Class Blogs – How to connect to a real audience – Part Two

Yesterday I blogged about how Irish Class Blogs

can connect with a real audience

through the aggregrate blogs EdBlogsIE and Seas Suas

or by being listed on The Class Blogs Shed on The Literacy Shed.

Otherwise blogging can feel like a solitary experience.

You can read yesterday’s post here.

Are these seats taken ???
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Methos04 via Compfight

Twitter is invaluable for making connections.

When you sign up to the aggregate blogs mentioned above,

each time you post, a tweet detailing this

appears on their twitter feed.


You might considered taking part  in

Seomra Ranga’s Signs of Autumn 

and Signs of Spring twitter projects.


Click here to read about Digital Art Week

devised by teachers Simon Lewis (,

Damien Quinn (Seomra Ranga) and Fred Boss (PDST),

which also gives class bloggers a great opportunity

to connect with other Irish class blogs.


You can contact Scoilnet, the Department of Education’s

‘portal for Irish Education’

and have your blog added to a substantial list of

Irish Schools That Blog.

Each week during the school term Scoilnet features

Scoilnet Star Site

Click on this link to Scoilnet,

if you wish to submit your site for consideration

There is a final follow up article on this topic here.


Irish Class Blogs – How to connect with a real audience. Part One.

With a school or class blog making connections is important.

That way your students have an authentic audience.

This is motivating and rewarding for them.

They will do their best work

when they know that they have a real audience.

Knowing one has an audience is motivating for the teacher too.


There are a number of excellent enterprises

which have been developed to promote

Irish educational or school blogs.

Sign up with them

and each time you post

your post will appear on their websites.


You could join EdBlogIE

an aggregate blog devised by Nigel Lane

‘Your one-stop shop for Irish educational blogs’,

you can sign up for EdBlogIE  here. 


Nigel Lane and Simon Lewis set up Seas Suas 

specifically for  Irish Primary Schools.

You can add your blog to Seas Suas here.


Both these sites do an excellent job of

showcasing the blogs of Irish educators

and provide a very valuable service.


Further afield Rob Smith from

the inspiring Literacy Shed invites

teachers to submit a link to their blog

to add to a list of on Class Blogs Shed.


As of today there are only six Irish blogs on this list.

Add yours and fly the flag for Ireland.

St. Patrick's Day
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: jacquelinetinney via Compfight

Part Two of this article is here.


Making More Connections: New Zealand and Ireland

Making Connections is a comprehension strategy

we use in school when we read.

It is good to make connections

in other subject areas too.



Like New Zealand we have two languages here in Ireland:

our native language (called Irish/Gaelic/Gaeilge).

and our adopted language, English.


Irish is taught in schools.

Teachers have used the popularity

of the haka from New Zealand

to teach Irish:

Take a look at this great video is from

a 6th class in Balbriggan ETNS.


Uillinn dheas, uillinn chlé 

(right elbow, left elbow)

Buail do chos, buail do chos 

(stamp your feet, stamp your feet)

Gualainn dheas, gualainn chlé 

(right shoulder, left shoulder)

Bualadh bos, bualadh bos 

(clap hands, clap hands)

Lámha ar na glúine 

(hands on knees)

Cromaigí, cromaigí 

(bend down, bend down)

Lámha in airde 

(hands up)

Éirígí! éirígí!

(rise up, rise up)

Síos ar na glúine

(down on your knees)

Lámha sna cluasa

(hands in ears)

Bualadh bos, bualadh bos 

(clap hands, clap hands)

Léimigí suas….. AAAAAAA!

(Jump in the air)

– by Dominic ó Braonáin


The older children in our school are familar

with the song from New Zealand

‘Pokarekare Ana’.

In Senior Classes they learn how to

play this tune on the recorder.

The tune of Pokarekare Ana

is used in Ireland for a hymn to Mary:

‘A Mhuire Mathair’

Other connections: Both countries are islands

and have a strong connection with the sea.


Both New Zealand and Ireland

are green and beautiful.


Family is important.


Both countries have an interest

in the sport of rugby.

The New Zealand rugby team

are good ambassadors for New Zealand.


We see in films like ‘The Hobbit’

that New Zealand is very beautiful.

Making connections makes the world go round!

Advantages and Disadvantages of having a Classroom Blog

Today 2nd Class Room 6 talked about

the Advantages and Disadvantages

of having a Classroom Blog

These are the advantages

We enjoy having a classroom blog.

Senan called it our ‘digital diary’.


Parents, families and friends at home

and abroad can see what we do in school.


Children who are absent from school

can check up on what we are doing.


We feel good seeing our work online,


We have made friends

with students in other schools

and other countries through our blog.


We had fun preparing to enter

the Eircom Junior Spiders Awards 2013:

Mega Spiders: School Blog.




We talked about the disadvantages

of having a classroom blog

and we agreed that

there are NO disadvantages 🙂

Making Blogging Connections at Home and Abroad

Making connections is a recurring theme in class 🙂

We make connections as a comprehension strategy in reading.


But ‘making connections’ has come to have a new meaning

now that we are blogging.


Here are some of our more recent connections:


Our work on the Parish Website


Junior Art Gallery features some of our tree paintings



Follow this link to see our blog featured on


Our initial link with Room 5 Melville Intermediate School, Hamilton, New Zealand

Message received from Room 5, Melville Intermediate School, Hamilton, New Zealand today.

Today we received a message from

Mr. Webb’s Room 5 Class

in Melville Intermediate School, Hamilton,

New Zealand.


 We were …



It said:


Thanks so much for your audioboo

that was played today twice to our students.


They loved it, but they weren’t the first to do so,

Mr Webb, played it in the staff room

and we had a crowd of teachers that were listening to it.


The Room Five students loved hearing your voices

and the facts and information about

where you are in Ireland.


We are going to do a display about it next week

that includes the information

so that anyone who visits our classroom can see it,

and we have already had people from all over the

world watch what are are doing.


Next week in class we are going to speak Gaelic

from the phrases and words that you left for us

and we are going to look for more information

and we will post it on our class page,

so thank you so much again and have a great next few days.


(It is the weekend here in New Zealand,

we are half a day ahead of the rest of the world!)


Mr Webb and Room Five, Melville Intermediate School,

Hamilton, Waikato, New Zealand.”

This is the link to the podcast we sent 🙂


We first made acquaintance with

Mr. Webb’s Class


Class Collaboration between Greystones, Wicklow, Ireland and Hamilton, Waikato, New Zealand

Classrooms are very different places in this 21st Century.

In the past children have done projects on other countries.


2nd Class, Room 6 are learning about New Zealand.

But this is different to other years where information

came from books and the internet.


We are hearing about New Zealand from

Mr.Webb’s students in Y7/8, Room 5,

Melville Intermediate School,

Hamilton, Waikato, New Zealand.


Link to Class Blog for Y7/8 Room 5, Melville Intermediate School, Hamilton, Waikato, New Zealand


They in turn are learning about Ireland.

These students have just returned from their Summer holidays 😉


They brainstormed what they knew about Ireland and we replied.

We were very impressed that students as far away as New Zealand

knew as much as they did about our small island.


This is what they knew and what we said.


1. Dublin is the capital of Ireland.

Yes that is true.

We live to the south of Dublin.

On the train, it is approximately an hour away.


2. You can kiss the Blarney stone in Ireland and it gives you good luck.

Yes you can kiss the Blarney stone

but rather than make you lucky,  

doing this makes you ‘chatty,’ a good talker.


This is a tradition and many tourists include

‘kissing the Blarney Stone’ in their trip to Ireland.


The children in 2nd Class Room 6 are already blessed

with this gift of being talkative ;)


It is not easy to kiss the Blarney stone.

One has to ‘bend over backwards’.  

Link to the Blarney Stone 


Long ago, tourists were held by the ankles

and lowered head first over the battlements

of the Blarney Castle.


Nowadays there is a ‘safer way’ to do this.

But the stone is down a ‘drop’ behind you.


We think perhaps that people get so nervous doing this

that they ‘babble’ and talk a lot afterwards out of fright.


3. Our collaborators from Melville School

knew that Irish Dancing is popular : 

We are fond of Irish dancing.

We have dance class in school,

for a half an hour every Monday.

Included in the lesson is Irish dancing.

Damien from Melville School described

Irish dancing accurately.


Traditionally too, Irish dancers just moved their legs very rapidly

and kept their arms stiffly down by their sides.


This has changed in the last ten years,

with the popularity of a show called ‘Riverdance’.


The traditional rules of the dance have been broken

but we think that the end result is a better dance.


4. Ireland has a lot of pubs

Sadly this is a view people have of Ireland.

The Irish are very friendly and sociable.

They like to get together to talk.


We used have a lot of pubs,

but many have gone out of business.


The government passed a ‘No drinking and driving’ law

and also a ‘No smoking in public places’ law.

This means people don’t go to the pubs as much.


5. Potatoes has something to do with Ireland

Potatoes were to Ireland as rice was to China :D 

but this has changed too.


When our grandparents were at school,

all the children would have eaten potatoes

each day for their dinner.


We had a show of hands today

and less than half of the children

had eaten potatoes or chips the previous day.


6. The Titanic was built in Ireland.

Indeed the Titanic was built in Ireland.

Levi’s (from Melville) Nan came to Ireland on holiday.

She certainly travelled a long way.


We remembered the tragedy of the Titanic

especially last year as it was 100 years since it happened.


7. Fairies and Leprechauns are creatures from Ireland.

This is a funny one :D 

We’ll get back to our new friend from New Zealand on this.


These are the facts we found out we knew about New Zealand

after a brainstorming session.


1. Wellington is the capital of New Zealand.

(Thanks to JC for this information)


2. The New Zealand rugby team are the best rugby players in the world.

They are a competitive, strong and brave team.


3. The only famous person we could think of from New Zealand

is the rugby player Sonny Bill Williams. (Thanks to Cian for this information)


4. We have seen the ‘haka’ before rugby matches.

We heard it was a war chant to scare the enemy long ago.


We are big fans of the ‘haka’


5. Kiwi fruit comes from New Zealand

and it is also the name of a flightless bird.


6. English is spoken in New Zealand!


7. Hobbits live in New Zealand.


We has said the our friends in New Zealand

that we would appreciate their help to advise us

if we have got anything wrong!


Teacher will also fill us in on some of the gaps in our knowledge.

As part of this project we are going to learn the ‘haka’ from the link above.


From doing this collaboration 2nd Class Room 6

have learned two very interesting things already.

When we have our Christmas holidays,

students in New Zealand begin their Summer holidays.


We learned that time wise, New Zealand

is thirteen hours ahead of the time here in Ireland.


We are finding this collaboration very interesting

and we are learning a lot.

Click here for what we did next!