Who am I? That’s one secret I’ll never tell….

I’ve been watching too much Gossip Girl, I admit it. But it’s made me think and what with digital citizenship and online identity being buzz words I’ve had a lot to think about. It dawned on me recently, well while visiting the Dublin Libraries with Maria that my online identity is fairly out there.

I started out by sharing nothing. My twitter account had Anseo A Mhuinteoir as my name and my handle was and is @AnseoAMuinteoir my profile picture was the blog logo, that lovely cute cartoon child saying Anseo and my bio was basic and brief. I believe it read something like “Newly Qualified primary teacher, subbing….” and a link to this here website!

My my my how it has all changed.

These days if you check me out on twitter (go on and do it if you haven’t already) you’ll find an actual profile pic of me launching How I Learn at Feilte. My bio gives you an idea of who I am as a person, I’m a person who loves to talk and eat chocolate, a primary teacher and editor of #HowILearn. The link to this site is still pride of place though. Back in the days of quiet shy Helen, most of my twitter followers didn’t actually know my name, I remember being at a conference and hearing colleague searching for “Anseo A Mhuinteoir” because she didn’t know my name, mind you she also expected a boy thanks to the cartoon logo I had as a profile pic! That now seems like a life time ago! In fact it was only 2011 and seems like a life time ago!

As Maria pointed out a few weeks ago, before meeting me face to face, she went through in her head the things she knows about me. For example:
* I have a Gavin
* I live in Limerick but I’m from Cork
* I blog/write/tweet/talk a lot
* I have a weird sense of humour
* I want a puppy
* I have one younger sister
* I love science
* I love IT and regularly call myself a techie nerd
* I bake, a lot
* I love food and cook a lot
* I love to read
* I was involved in the Cork Opera House as a child
* I graduated from Hibernia in 2010

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! I’m sure If you looked and read through the posts over the last (almost) five years you’d learn more and more about me!

My online identity has changed a lot over the years and I don’t think it’s totally a bad thing, I’ve made some fantastic friends online which I may not have met if I hadn’t been more myself then the Cartoon was! I don’t think I’ve shared things I wouldn’t have told people in person. I hope not anyway. I’ve been honest but hopefully not too honest. I don’t want to be anyone but myself online, I want you to know the real Helen and hopefully like me for who I am and not some censored ideal of me. I think I’m doing an ok job at that? Feel free to correct me though if you think I’m making a right mess and ruining my street cred and rep!

I don’t think I’ll ever wish I hadn’t shared something online, and hopefully if I ever do, I’ll have the sense to know that when I shared it I needed to for some reason. And I won’t regret it. I don’t regret opening up on Twitter or here with you. And long may that continue.

What you see is what you get.

“I yam what I yam” Popeye, the Sailor Man


Ballyroan Libray, opened Mach 2013

I”m still recovering from my trip to South County Dublin libraries this week! I was invited by Maria O Sullivan (aka @MariaMernagh) to do some science activities and experiments for Science Week (follow #SciWeek2013 on twitter) in Tallaght and Ballyroan Libraries. I have to say I loved the spaces, fantastic facilities, lovely people there and I was totally blown away by the libraries. I’ll have to do a second post on the libraries (hint hint Maria) but for now let me fill you in on the sciencey stuff.

86 passengers in boat

I was doing three sessions a day, two morning ones with senior classes in primary schools, 5th or 6th classes mostly. I had an hour with each group and managed to get two activities done. We did Design A Boat from the Discover Primary Science and Maths site, one I’m used to from my DPSM workshops so was delighted to be able to bring it to the library and local kids. We made fantastic boats from plasticine and managed to get a fair few passengers in (marrowfat peas are fantastic passengers by the way) Think one group even got close to the 100 mark, maybe 97 or so! Very cool! Covers the design & make strand, construction and makes for a class of great engineers.

Science Week 2013 Hovercrafts from Helen Bullock on Vimeo.

Next of all we made hovercrafts using old CDs and DVDs, a sports bottle top and a balloon. The idea being that the energy from your lungs goes into the balloon and then pushes through the CD to make it move, hovering around! It’s very very cool and if you’re any good at blowing up balloons you’ll find it’s got great distance and really hovers! Course I’m not great at blowing up balloons so it’s just as well that I have a balloon pump-thanks to the pound shop!! This one worked a treat with the kids, it’s fun it’s active and who doesn’t love to race hovercrafts?? I can honestly say all the groups could have spent a lot longer playing around with the hovercrafts if they didn’t have to go back to school! I do recommend being extra prepared and bringing extra balloons though, they do pop at times! 

My demo Hovercraft

After sessions one and two I was thrilled to be able to spend some time chatting to Maria over lunch! It may have been just as well that it was only lunch we were at or we may have been out all night! Left to our own devices we could be dangerous :) (in a good way of course) Monday was our first time meeting face to face and I loved it, it was great to put a face to the tweets and chats after all this time and I think we’re the same people online as we are offline! Great to know we get along as well in real life!

My Demo foam rocket

After lunch there was a group came in (not with a school group) to make rockets with me!! I loved loved loved this! Anyone who reads here semi regularly knows I secretly want to be an astronaut and love the DPSM Foam Rockets which were the order of the day! They went down a treat or should that be they went up like rockets! We had so much fun making them and then even more fun launching them outside the library! There were rocket races to see who’s rocket went the furtherest, who’s went the highest and who could hit a target on the wall!! The kids loved it and I have to admit so did I! I think Maria was a little jealous to have missed making her own rocket! But I am reliably told that @SummerBuzz was buzzing around for the day and loved it!

Foam Rockets, Science Week 2013 in Ballyroan Library from Helen Bullock on Vimeo.

Huge thanks again to Maria of South County Libraries, Una in Tallaght Library and Emma in Ballyroan Library for having me up for the two days, I had so much fun! And found myself really missing the atmosphere of the library this morning! I’ll be back (if you’ll have me!!)

Happy (busy) Hellie

It’s been a MAD MAD MAD How I Learn week! As I mentioned last week I was lined up on two local radio stations to do How I Learn interviews! Both interviews went really well and I’ve got the links here to share with you!

On Monday last I was on Limerick’s Live 95 on The Limerick Today Show with Joe Nash. The link to listen is here, I use SoundCloud to share the interviews by the way as podcasts! I want to say a huge thanks to Joe Nash and Danielle (his producer) for all their help and support!

Then on Wednesday I popped up to Clare Fm to Morning Focus with Marion Egan! Marion was lovely and made me feel at ease right away! Huge thanks to Marion and Niamh (producer) for all their help and support! You can listen here

After the interview I popped up to Ennis Bookshop for a little look around and was asked to sign a copy for a customer who was ordering the book over the phone!!! They’d heard the interview and wanted a copy! How cool?? So yeah I signed the book and now Ennis Bookshop has signed copies!!


As if we week wasn’t fantastic enough I was sent a review of How I Learn by Catherine of Gifted Ireland and was blown away by a fabulous review!! Thanks Catherine!!

All in all a great (and busy busy busy) week! Makes for a very happy Hellie :)

What’s the Frequency Hellie??

My news!!

Today is Sunday. Yesterday was Sarurday. Tomorrow is Monday. Tomorrow at 11am I will be on Limerick Live 95 talking about all things How I Learn! The excitement is mighty! And the butterflys are starting already! I’m sure I’ll know all the answers to the questions, after all if this was Mastermind How I Learn would be my specialist topic but still the nervous butterflys insist on visiting!
          (Image from Live 95 website)
Then on Wednesday I’m taking the road to Ennis and popping into Clare Fm to talk all things How I Learn!! At the slightly earlier time of 10.20am! I’ll be on the Morning Focus show with John and Niamh and really looking forward to it!
          (Image from Clare Fm website)
It’s not the first time I’ve been on the radio, but it is the first time I’ve been interviewed on air rather then voicing an opinion. I’m trying to think of the various questions I could be asked, the answers I want to remember and the important people and contributors! I’m kinda afraid I’ll go to sleep tonight and everything I know about How I a Learn will fall out of my head! Eeek!! 
So if you’d like to listen tomorrow (at 11am) you can listen online at http://www.live95fm.ie or on the radio if you’re in Limerick 
Wednesday morning you can listen live online on Clare.fm or dial your radios into 96fm so long as you’re in Clare! 
You can also use the station apps or tunein app to listen on your smartphone! 
Think I’ve covered all bases there?? I’ll tweet links tomorrow and Wednesday too just in case you forget! Please do listen, I’d hate to think I’m talking to messlf (again!)

Just a Quickie

I’ve loads of news today but as of yet I can only share two pieces so here goes….

How I Learn made it to The Irish Times this week!!! Cool or what?? November 29th saw Chalk Talk sing the praises of How I Learn (& Anseo A Mhuinteoir) so that’s me on cloud 9 for the foreseeable future!  Wanna read it?? Click here Chalk Talk and increase my ever growing ego!!

Also How I Learn is now for sale in O Mahonys Books in Limerick and Tralee!! I’m getting out there!! If you’re in Limerick please do pop into the education section and have a look, How I Learn is on the counter right next to the til! And again, proceeds go to Barnardos!!!

Also I’ve sent books to Marino Library this week so keep an eye out there if you’re studying How I Learn could change the way you see your pupils learning and by extension your teaching. 

Just a quickie today, I’ll have more news soon (trust me I know stuff!!) 


Brambrack, the halloween super treat in so many houses! My Gran always had some ready for us, I’m sure she has some tonight in Cork….maybe she’ll keep me some for my visit next week?? 

Anyway! Traditionally Halloween Brambrack is full of fruit and stuff as well as some goodies that are said to tell the future. A pea, which meant you weren’t going to marry that year. The stick which a sign of a an unhappy marriage or one full of disputes and arguments. The cloth was possibly the worst one for a young girl to get, it mean bad luck was coming! The coin had the opposite effect and brought good luck. The ring meant wedding bells were in your future within the year! Gran used to threaten to put in a medallion as well to which would signify the priesthood or becoming a nun. 

Everyone wanted the ring or the coin. Sure would you really want the pea or the cloth?? Or even the stick? 

Gran’s Brambrack
  • 1 tbsp dried yeast
  • 300ml lukewarm water
  • 2 oz/ 50g + 1 extra tsp sugar for yeast
  • 1 lb / 450g all purpose/plain flour
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 oz/50g butter
  • 6 oz/ 175g raisins
  • 2 oz/ 50g mixed candied peel
  • 2 oz/ 50g sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten

Makes 2 loaves

Heat the oven to 400F/200C/Gas 6 after the second kneading of the dough

  • Place the yeast in the lukewarm water, add the tsp of sugar, stir and leave to one side.
  • Put the flour into a large roomy, baking bowl, add the butter and salt and using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour to form sand-like crumbs. Work quickly to prevent the butter becoming too warm.
  • Add the peel, raisins and 2 oz of sugar to the flour mixture and stir.
  • Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, add the beaten eggs and the yeast mixture. Work the mixture together to form a soft dough.
  • Knead the dough on a floured work top for 10 minutes until smooth and pliable. Place the dough back into the bowl. Cover with a clean tea cloth and leave in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size (about 1 hour).
  • Return the dough to the worktop, divide in 2, knead each half for another few minutes then form into a round approx 7″/20cm. Place on a greased baking sheet and leave to rise for another hour.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, until golden brown.

(Image from google images)

                                     Perfect track to bake Brambrack to!! It’s the Monster Mash!!

Trick or Treat

There is nothing like a fantastic loooong weekend, it is just bliss. And this bank was even more blissful!  This bank holiday weekend I went out dancing with the girls and we got to talking about Halloween and the things we did as kids. Totally normal conversation as we were the only people dressed up for Halloween in the pub on Saturday night….besides the point I’m sure.

Anyway I thought I’d share some of the games we played with you guys and if you’ve any more ideas or suggestions then please do share! I’d love to hear them and share with the girls during the week!

Bobbing for Apples
Ah the old favourite, easy to put together but oh so tough to actually play! All you have to do to catch and pick up an apple from a large bowl of water….simples right? eh wrong! Those pesky apples keep bobbing away and floating the total opposite direction from you. My dad used to slid coins into the apples for us to try to catch, if you got a coin out with your teeth it was yours, if you caught an apple with coins in it they were all yours. Nice handy way to raid the bank of Dad!

Swinging Apples
Apples were a popular fruit to play with in our house growing up! Dad used to put apples on strings and hang them from the door frame. Gavin tells me that they used to try to take bites out of them but in our house Dad used to put coins in them for us to catch. Course it wasn’t that easy, hands were tied up behind your back!

Nothing like a good ole messy game! Everyone lines up and the person at the top of the line has an orange under their chin and they must pass it to the next person without using their hands, I know other houses used balls but we always used oranges. Why you ask? Well if you squeeze it too hard it bursts and you end up covered in orange juice and slime. I’m pretty sure Dad used to tamper with the oranges to be sure that they’d burst though!

Spiders Web
Using balls of black wool (one per person) everyone stands in a circle and ties their ball of wool to their wrist. Then calling out My Oh My It’s A Fly throw the ball of wool to someone else the circle with the aim to make a huge spiders web, it can go on as long as you like, Dad used to time with music. Then at the end the fun starts when you’ve to untangle yourself without cutting the wool or breaking it! (safety note: use wool it breaks easily if needs be compared to twine or string)

Witches Stew
Easy enough to organise and great fun (well it was when we were kids can’t promise it now I’m slightly older) Cut out Halloween shapes and using a straw you’ve to pick up the shapes (think of a hoover) and pop them into a bowl of witchy stew, who can do it the fastest? Who can get the most in the bowl in the time frame? We used to play it to the Monster Mash (time frame was sorted!!)

The Flour Game
I’m sure there’s a better name for this but I think everyone in our house cringed when they saw Dad coming with the bag of flour! He created a flour sandcastle and popped a plastic disk on top. Using a knife you had to try to slice the castle in such a way that it wouldn’t fall apart, like Jenga but messier. The person who finally knocked it all over had to go face first into the flour to get the disk using nothing but their mouth and teeth!! MESSY!!

Pin the Wart on the Witch
Just like pin the tail on the Donkey but with a spooky witch! Draw a scary witch on some card, pop it up the wall and give everyone a Wart (sticker) to pin on her, whoever gets closest wins! Oh and did I mention the blindfold and spinning around so you’re totally out of your comfort zone and misdirected??

Very like the board game but on a far bigger and messier scale! Using a large doll/willing volunteer get them lying still at an angle with a bucket of gunge on top of them, throwing in a few booby prizes and some yucky stuff like brains (cold noodles), Eyeballs (peeled grapes) and the idea is to find the “prizes” if you find them within a time limit (usually only a few seconds) then you get to trade them in for an actual prize!!

So there you have it, a few gruesome games for the midterm break!! Happy Halloween you guys!!