During our first meeting, the teacher (Dearbhla) had an idea to do something about the rainforests. Together we decided to make it big and interactive, a sensory delight, echoing the rainforest, in terms of lights, sounds, colour and texture. Very brave and ambitious!
Since the class was young, I decided to make it mainly a paper-based project, so on our first day we started with folding and cutting sheets of paper in different colours, to create flowers. Dearbhla had already prepped the class a lot with pictures sounds colours etc. of the rainforest, so they were all very excited when I arrived.
They quickly took to cutting out simple folded shapes and were thrilled at how effective these were when layered together. Suddenly they were holding very exotic flowers! We started making all sorts of leaves that day too.
Next class, the children had brought in scrap bits of jewellery, so together with crystals and light copper wire, I showed them how make centres for their flowers that would really wow people!
From old tin cans that were brought in, we made chimes, and a “rain maker” ( bits and pieces trickling down the inside of a long tube, that makes rain like sounds ) from a long cardboard roll that had had posters in it. All these bits were painted in exotic rainforest colours.
Next I managed to get some big cardboard boxes form a local electrical shop, one large enough so that when I opened it out, it was big enough to become our rainforest backdrop.
I bought the backdrop in with the silhouette of a rainforest lightly drawn on in chalk. The kids were thrilled as was the teacher who had found it hard to visualise how all these bits that we were working on were going to come together.
The kids decided what colours to do the background and together they mixed them and painted all in. To say that they had a ball, is a big understatement! They LOVED it!
We had two smaller bits of cardboard for the sides of the curved cardboard backdrop, that they painted bright green.
After class one day I stayed and painted in the silhouettes of the trees and birds as the kids wanted a good job done and their accuracy for fine painting wasn’t up to the job. Next they painted bits of carpet that they had cut out into leaf shapes, all earthy browns and reds with hints of green, as these were for the forest floor and also another big box that was going to be a seat inside our rainforest kingdom. We had two days of painting before all was done. The teacher was very patient!
I bought some bamboo sticks of different lengths, and showed the kids how to sew them onto the edges of the cardboard backdrops, using fine copper wire. This straightened and strengthened up the cardboard, so that it became very robust.
We gathered other bits of scrap like egg cartons (cardboard), felt scraps etc, and make these into snakes, leaves and other bits. These were some of our different textures.
Lots more flowers, leaves and raindrops were made as we went along and my son’s lizard came in on a visit to encourage the kids in their creation. He went down very well with all.
All was done and needed to be pulled together which Dearbhla and myself did after school one evening.
There were only 17, I think, in the class and that made a big difference to the project, and the kids were so enthusiastic, eager to create and a joy to work with.
Our rainforest project came together very well, but there is still so much more that succeeding classes could add to it, ie, animal silhouettes hidden under leaves that have to be found and identified, long grasses at the entrance to give a more hidden look to all, more exotic flowers, etc. So the principal and teachers are determined to continue with it and have it as a wee sanctuary room, a chance to get away from the hustle and bustle of normal school life.
What do you think of their colourful rainforest?!