Blogging Buddies: A Response to Mrs.Todd’s Class in the USA. Irish Food Imports & Exports

Mrs. Todd’s Class from Rocky River Elementary School, Northern Carolina are doing a project about agriculture around the world. We have collaborated with her class ‘The Roadrunners’ before. You can see this work here.

‘The Roadrunners’ asked us some questions about Irish food imports and exports.You can see their class blog ‘Going Global at Rocky River’ here.

Do we import a lot of food in Ireland?

Yes we do. Half the annual 16 billion euro spent on food and drink in Ireland is spent on goods that have been imported. That is 8 billion euro’s worth.

Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining

Melanie W. via Compfight

Some imports are a result of our climate. Here in Ireland we can’t grow coffee, cocoa or oranges.

OrangesCreative Commons License

Quinn Dombrowski via Compfight

Many food brands that we assume to be Irish are in fact imported.


Andrew Becraft via Compfight

For example the Boyne Valley is a beautiful place in Ireland but Boyne Valley Honey is imported from Europe and South America.

honey dipper

Brenda Anderson via Compfight

This is because of our wet climate, the lack of beekeepers and the decline of Irish bees.

So sweet.

Mixy Lorenzo via Compfight

Siucra is the Irish word for sugar. Last century we had sugar beet factories but they have been closed down.

Now we import sugar from Germany on account of a political decision to shut down the factories.

What foods do we export?

We import 8 billion euros worth and we export €10 billion euros worth.


The.Rohit via Compfight

One third of our exports and meat and livestock.

little calfie called mopsy

cskk via Compfight

We also export a lot of prepared foods (e.g. fat-filled milk powders, cooked meats, pizza, sauces, bakery and confectionary) accounts for 1.65 billion euros worth.

Soda bread. Turned out nice again.

quimby via Compfight

We are an island nation surrounded by the sea so it is not surprising that we also export seafood.

Nearly half our exports go to our neighbours in the United Kingdom. We also export a lot to Europe. We export beef and dairy to the USA and luxury speciality foods.



Irish people living in the USA like to eat Irish rashers and sausages and other products. It reminds them of home.

Do we have an international aisle in the supermarket?

We have lots of international food in the supermarket.


The Census in 2011 tells us that nearly 3% of our population are Polish. There are also a lot of people from other parts of Eastern Europe living in Ireland. We also have many European, Asian and African people living in Ireland.

Irish people who have travelled abroad enjoy foreign food. The result of this is that we find lots of international food in the supermarket.


We like to eat Chinese, Italian and Indian food. You can see this on the supermarket shelves.

The people from other countries like Poland like to eat food from their country.


Oreos from the USA are a popular product here among the children in Ireland.

Mmmmmm. Delicious!

Cookies & Cream (Oreo) Bark

I Believe I Can Fry via Compfight

However when we looked at where the packets of Oreos in the supermarket, we discovered they were made in the United Kingdom under license from the USA.

We were asked are there food shortages in Ireland? Do people go hungry?

IMG_1197 Tim Brown via Compfight

Sadly the 2014 Census tells us that In 11% of children (aged 0-17) lived in poverty and so would not have enough food to eat.11% is is one in nine children.

‘Christmas Customs in Ireland Long Ago – A Grandmother’s Memories of Christmas Long Ago – Part Two

Photo Credit: seyed mostafa zamani via Compfight

Christmas Customs in Ireland long ago

‘Christmas in Ireland was very much a family festival

when sons and daughters who were working away from home

returned home for Christmas.


Many families looked forward to a letter or parcel

from family members who had gone to America.

This was sure to contain not only good wishes

but also a present of money.


Shopkeepers gave a Christmas box to thank families

for shopping with them. This was often a box of biscuits or a bottle of port.


A candle was lit and placed in the window on Christmas Eve.

The eldest member of the family helped the youngest to do this.

This was done to show that Joseph and Mary,

who found no room at the inn in Bethlehem,

were welcome in the house.


It was believed that at midnight on Christmas Eve,

cows and donkeys knelt to honour the Baby Jesus

and that at that moment, they could talk.

The animals were given an extra feed on Christmas Eve.


Christmas Day was spent at home.

It was very much a family festival

and people didn’t visit unless specially invited to do so.


On Stephen’s Day the branch of a tree was decorated

and the ‘wren boys’ went from house to house

singing in the neighbourhood in return for treats.


These are my memories of Christmas

in Ireland in the 1940s and 50s.

In ways it seems so long ago

but in other ways it only seems like yesterday..’

‘An Orange in My Stocking’ – A Grandmother’s Memories of Christmas Long Ago – Part One

Creative Commons License Photo Credit: postbear eater of worlds via Compfight

An Orange in Your Stocking

It was just after the Second World War

in the early forties when Robyn’s granny

was about seven or eight. She said:

“Fruit that grew in hot countries

like bananas and oranges was scarce.

These could only be got if a cargo ship

made it through from Lisbon in Portugal.

These ships had to come through the Bay of Biscay

and many vessels were lost making the trip.

So it was a big treat when someone got…

an orange in their stocking.


This is not to say Christmas was not the most magical of times.

For weeks even months preparations were being made.

The Mammies were arranging with the butcher,

the baker and other shop keepers to keep stuff for them.

There were no supermarkets then

and very little money so people would go to these shops,

pick out what they wanted and pay a little for them every week,

so when Christmas week arrived everything was paid for.

The children had jobs to do too.

They would go to the woods

and gather holly and ivy to decorate the house.

We also collected for the neighbours

who had nobody to do it for them.

If they gave you a penny, it would be riches indeed,

but if they didn’t, it didn’t matter

as we had such fun gathering it.

To us they were wonderful times

and even if everything changes,

the message of Christmas remains the same.

Christ was born to us in a stable

bringing joy to the world and goodwill to man’.

Seaside Scavenger Hunt

We are going on a Seaside Scavenger hunt.

We will be on the look out for seals,

or porpoise

or dolphins.

We will walk down towards

the Three Trout River and

on the way back we will look for;


1. A small black pebble

2. A feather

3. A pebble with a hole in it

4. A mermaid’s purse

(dog fish egg case

Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Gary Tanner via Compfight

or whelk egg case)

Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Duca di Spinaci via Compfight

5. A limpet (or part of)

Creative Commons License Photo Credit: mll via Compfight

6. A mussel (or part of)

Creative Commons License Photo Credit: ashley rose, via Compfight

7. A whelk (or part of)

Neptunea sp.
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Rockman of Zymurgy via Compfight

8. Something beautiful

9. Some sea lettuce

Photo Credit: Bernadette Hubbart via Compfight

10. A sea belt

Sea belt kelp on Traigh na Doirlinn
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: jsutcℓiffe via Compfight

11. Some bladder wrack

Bladderwrack in water
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: SomeDriftwood via Compfight

12. Something that makes a noise

13. A small white pebble

14. A pink flower

15. Something soft

16. A yellow flower

17. Something important in nature

(Everything in nature is important!)

18. A small grey pebble

19. Any part of a crab

20. Something that reminds you of yourself

21. A white flower

22. A sun trap (This is anything that captures the sun’s heat)

23. More than 100 of something!

24. Something that the sea has changed

25. A creature’s home (make sure it is empty).

26. Something round

27. A big smile


At the end we will leave what we have found on the beach.

We will:

‘Leave only footprints. Take only memories’.


We also have plans for games with the parachute.

dari ripple in south beloit illinois
Photo Credit: jim simonson via Compfight

We’ll have a sing song.

We will play circle games like

‘Ship’s cat and mouse’

‘Captain Black’s Magic Handshake’

Aye, aye Captain

Ship, sea, shore

and Sticky Toffee.

We have a message in bottle that we will throw into the sea.

Monochrome message in a bottle
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Jens Auer via Compfight

Schools Competition: This is the future we see for Dublin

We entered a competition run by Dublin City Council about the future we see for Dublin.

We wrote an essay …

The Future of Dublin

This is the future that we see for Dublin.  

If we use sun power,


and pedal power

we can improve the transport system in our capital city.


Transport need not all be at ground level.

Windpowered transport would fly above the city with sun powered vehicles.

Wheeled transport and pedal power would move at ground level.

Some transport could travel underneath the ground. Boats would travel along the river.

All vehicles would be light weight and designs would be good.

 Further in the Future of Dublin


With the transport at three levels:

 above the city,

 on the ground

 and below the ground,

 traffic jams would be history.


With transport being powered by the sun,

the wind

and pedal power,

traffic would not make noise.

Nor would there be the smell of petrol

and exhaust fumes.

Dublin in the Sunshine

In this way it will be more attractive for people to cycle

and to walk in the city of Dublin.

People will be healthier and more fit and they will be happier.


Dublin will be greener and cleaner.

There will be no pollution from cars and lorries.

Nature and wildlife will return to Dublin and the river.


Evening in Dublin


Parking of these new vehicles would be in the underground

and multi-storey car parks that are already there, 

but outdoor carparks can be turned into parks where people can walk and sit.

Trees and plants will grow happily.


Dublin will be the same in ways.

The Spire and the Custom House will still be there.

But we will build on the beauty of the city.

It will be a capital city to be even more proud of.

Tourists will visit to see what has been achieved.

This is the future we see for Dublin.

Morning in Dublin 

And then we wrote a poem:

We can see Dublin in the future.

We hear the gentle traffic hum.

We taste success .

We smell fresh air.

We touch the heart of the city.


We see the bright spire.

We hear happy talk.

We taste an energy.

We smell clean water.

We touch the soul of the city.


A light, bright Dublin

Shiny like a new coin

Strong and green like an oak tree.

Sparkling like the Liffey in the sun


We would like to go there now.

The sooner, the better.

We hope it is not a long journey.

If we start now,

We will get there quicker.


‘Well done’ the children will say.

Let’s keep it this way!

We say goodbye to noise pollution.

And so long …

to dirt and grime.

We say slán leat …

to lead poisoning

And fáilte romhat …

to a bright new day.

We worked collaboratively and we illustrated our work using an online digital tool called Scribbler.

Nightime in Dublin


Congratulations and Well Done

to Fourth Class, Griffith Barracks MDNS.  

You can read their imaginative and innovative ideas here

Green Schools – Biodiversity – Food Chains and Food Webs

We are working towards earning

a Green Schools flag for Biodiversity.

We learnt about food chains

using the games on this link.

We saw how food chains became food webs.

We looked at food webs in different habitats.

Some of the boys drew prehistoric food chains.

We learned how the balance in nature is upset

if a plant or animal is removed from the food chain.

A poem that we like a lot: ‘Science’ by Danielle Sensier

Experiment” by Danielle Sensier 


At school we’re doing growing things  

with cress. 

Sprinkly seeds in plastic pots 

of cotton wool. 


Kate’s cress sits up on the sill 

she gives it water. 

Mine is shut inside the cupboard 

dark and dry. 


Now her pot has great big clumps  

of green 

mine hasn’t 

Teacher calls it Science 

I call it mean! ‘

We like this poem. 

We learned it when we did experiments

about growing things.

Experiments we did about growing things.


The Advantages and Disadvantages of Living in Our Home Town

Today we made a podcast about

the advantages and disadvantages

of living in Greystones.

Senan was today’s interviewer.

The boys and girls in 2nd Class Room 6

could think of lots of advantages

and very few disadvantages.

We agreed Greystones is

a great place to live.

What do you think is  good about living in your home town?

Click on ‘Continue Reading’ below to tell us what you think.



Read more we have written about the town we live in here.

A Tasty Maths Lesson: A Party for ‘Smarties’

A party for ‘Smarties’

Smarties by Quimby on Flickr

These parties are great fun,
but students have to work for their reward!.

One needs a small box of mini ‘smarties’ (66kcal per box) for each child in the class. I usually buy two multipacks containing twenty boxes approximately. I time this lesson for just after the children’s own lunchtime.

Important to check for any child who is allergic to chocolate.
They can have jellies instead perhaps.

Before the children can eat the sweets
they have to do some work.

Here are some suggestions:

You might want to use just SOME of them!
The activities chosen will depend on the age of the children.

General Observation

Look at the box
Can you find the list of ingredients?

How many ingredients are there?
What are they?

Are you surprised by any of the ingredients?
What do you think red cabbage is used for?
What other ingredients give the colours do you think?
What do you think the beeswax does?
Did you know spirulina is a seaweed? It gives a blue colour.
There is information on the back of the bag about other natural colouring used.

What percentage of these sweets is milk chocolate?
What percentage is the rest of the ingredients?

Who is the manufacturer of these sweets?

What shape is it? (cuboid)
How many faces has it? (6)
How many edges? (12)
How many corners? (8)

Open up the box.
What shapes can you find? How many rectangles are there?

Pour out the contents.
Are the colours of the contents similar to the colours on the box?
How does the size compare?
Estimate the number of sweets in your box.
Now count them.
How close was your estimate?
How many sweets does each child have?
Are there the same number in each box?
Why do you think this happens?

Who had the most sweets in their box?
Who had the least?

Can you work out the average number of sweets in each box.

There are approximately 20 boxes of sweets in each minipack.
Can you estimate how many sweets are in a full minipack?

With a younger class you can practice adding and taking away using the sweets.
There is also potential for talking about
– tens and units
– and sharing/division.

Count the different colours.
How many colours are there?
How many yellow sweets have you in your box.
How many red? pink? orange? green? purple etc.

Lay them out like a pictogram.
Smarties Graph #3
Smarties Graph #3 by Sneeu on Flickr

Which is the most common colour in each child’s box?
Which is the most common colour in all the boxes?
The children can create patterns and pictures with the contents of their box.

And that’s not all!
A Lesson on Probability from

Fractions on

If your class can resist eating the sweets for this length of time you can talk about
– the five senses:
sound (of the sweets rattling in the box)
and smell (there isn’t one.. initially at any rate!)
– Words to describe the
sensation of the sweets dissolving or crunching in the mouth.
Sometimes too there are jokes or riddles on the back of the box.

Music Potential for work on ‘composition’
using voice and sweets in their box as a percussion instrument.

You could also talk about
the journey the sweets will make through the digestive system.
and the job saliva does in the digestion process
How long can you make a sweet last in your mouth?

Mindful of healthy eating concerns I restrict giving out sweets to twice in the year:

Once before the Halloween midterm,

when the class earn a ‘Party for ‘Smarties”

as ‘Golden Time’ for hard work and good behaviour.

We will also have a pirate themed treasure hunt in the Summer term where the ‘treasure’ will be edible.

‘All you need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt’.

Charles M. Schulz

Signs of Autumn Twitter Project

We are taking part in a collaborative project about

the signs of Autumn

on Twitter

during this first week of October.

Get your own Poll!

We are tweeting photos and comments

about signs of Autumn that we see #anfomhar.

You can see more details about this project

on the following link:
All about the Signs of Autumn Twitter Project on Seomra

Teacher looks forward to this great opportunity to introduce the class to the uses of Twitter.

Click here for the link.

As always I am very conscious of online safety.

No photographs of the children will be used

and I will only use the children’s first names.

This is the project so far, at the half way point:


Can you see the Autumn photo you took today? (PhotoPeach)

Please supervise your child when they are online.
Create your own Animation

Good Dads in the Animal Kingdom


We were learning about good Dads in the Animal Kingdom. Here are some we found out about:

The experts say that there is evidence
that dinosaur dads minded their children
and protected the nest.

The marmoset grooms the baby monkeys,
feeds them and carries them round on his back.

The seahorse is the only male creature that gives birth

Darwin frog
Carries the eggs in a special pocket
in his throat until they hatch into tadpoles.

Siamese fighting fish
Protects the eggs until they hatch.

Emperor penguin
The Emperor penguin keeps his egg warm under his feathers, balanced on his toes. He doesn’t eat for two months while he is waiting for the egg to hatch.

Silverback gorilla
The silverback gorilla protects his children and plays with them.


‘Dinosaurs’ by Maks

About Dinosaurs  by  Maks 


A T-Rex is a meat eater 

A Deinonychus  is a meat eater 

Dinonychus means ‘terrible claw’.  

A Triceratops is a plant eater 

 A Triceratops had 3 horns   

A Stegosaurus is a plant eater 

An Apatosaurus is a plant eater.

The Apatosaurus used be known as a Brontosaurus! 

Ask me why there are no dinosaurs today!