The implementation of Aistear, the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework is a core action of First 5
Aistear is designed to support parents, early childhood practitioners and teachers in planning for and providing enriching, challenging and enjoyable learning opportunities for children. It describes the types of learning that are important for babies, toddlers and young children.
Inclusion is a core element of First 5. The activities below are for all children and can be adapted for all abilities. For more information on supports for children with disabilities attending pre-school visit www.AIM.gov.ie
Aistear has 4 themes;
Try some of these well-being activities that support the healthy development of bodies and minds.
Get in the habit of everyone in the family washing their hands when you come home or in from the garden/backyard. Break it down into steps and pretend you can’t remember the next steps.
This is a nice one for a wet or cold day. Fill a bowl full of warm water and shower gel. Spread a towel on the floor and stick your feet and your child’s feet in the bowl. Relax. Talk about relaxing. Dry your feet and give each other foot rubs with a tiny bit of cream or oil.
Draw a big toothy smile on paper. Put some toothpaste on a toothbrush and brush all the teeth. Talk about reaching all the areas of each tooth.
Play a favourite song in the bathroom for the duration of the brushing.
Brush your teeth at the same time as the child is brushing their teeth and talk about how you love the feeling of clean teeth.
Children should spend some daily time outside if possible noting the need for physical distancing if you are going on a walk.
Use your garden if you have one. Digging, planting and weeding are activities enjoyed by all age groups.
With your child draw different faces with different emotions onto paper plates i.e. a big smiley face for happy. Talk about how each one looks and feels. Use them when someone wants to talk about their feelings. Saying something like ‘I wonder which feeling you are feeling right now’?
If a young child is feeling very big feelings like anger or sadness for an extended period it might be useful to have a feelings meter drawn on a wall or piece of paper. It might have a zero to 10 scale on it. Acknowledge the feeling by marking the extent of the feeling and talking about where in their body the feeling is felt. Talk about whether they want help moving the feeling to lower on the scale and what might make that happen. Suggestions might include a hug, some quiet time, a story or a walk outside (with physical distancing at this time).
Sometimes it’s hard to talk about feelings. The double distance of a doll, teddy or puppet can help. You can wonder how the dolly is feeling. You can then wonder what might make the dolly feel better.
Set up a quiet space where children can go to chill and be by themselves. This might be a play tent or behind the sofa. A blanket over 2 chairs works well as a blanket fort.
This theme is about children making sense of the things, places and people in their world. They do this by interacting with others, playing, investigating, questioning and forming, testing and refining ideas.
Try some of these recipes with the children doing as much as possible. You will be working on a range of skills in these sensory activities. Some of these skills are concentration, sequencing, memory building, turn taking and fine motor development. Lots of pre-maths and science learning is happening with these activities including; pouring, measuring, mixing, heating etc.
Mix in a bowl and pour onto a tray and play. This stuff is a lovely sensory activity.
Add oil to dry ingredients and mix with a spoon to combine. Once mixed, use your hands to ensure the oil has made its way through the flour. The ‘sand’ will hold its shape and be mouldable.
Help the children to mix the ingredients in a bowl. Knead until soft.
*Please note that homemade playdough has a high salt content which is poisonous and harmful to children.
Cooking – pizza dough, scones, veggie bean burgers, fish cakes, ice lollies.
Mix the dry ingredients. Mix up the sachet of yeast per the instructions on the back of the pack in a jug and mix into the dry ingredients. Turn out onto a clean floured surface. Knead well for a few minutes. Stick it back in the bowl and cover with a damp tea towel. Set it aside for 40 minutes until it has doubled in size. Divide into 6 small pizzas or 2 large ones (or any way you like). Set the oven to a high setting. Add passata or any tomato based pasta sauce. If anyone in the family dosn’t like tomato sauce try a pizza bianco, just drizzle olive oil on the base and then add the toppings. Add any toppings and grated cheese you have and cook for about 12 minutes until golden with a crispy base.
If you don’t fancy making the dough use pre-bought wraps as the base.
Add the flour and baking powder together in a bowl. Rub in the butter with your fingertips. Add the sugar. Beat the eggs and mix them in with a spoon. Add a tiny drop of milk and mix until you have a soft dough. Turn out onto a floured board. Shape and pat the dough until it is 2cm thick. Cut out rounds if you have a cutter or other wise use a glass (dip the edge in a bit of flour). Place each scone on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper and rub the top with a drop of milk. Bake at 220˚C for 12-15 minutes until risen and golden.
Serve with butter or jam and cream.
Try adding fresh raspberries to the mixture.
Mix the ingredients in a bowl. Mash well together. Taste, add a pinch of dried herbs or salt. Form into balls with wet hands and flatten with the back of a spoon. Cover in bread crumbs and shake off any excess. Place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Place in a hot oven for 20 minutes. Turn once during cooking.
You can make this recipe with chickpeas and roll into small balls for falafel.
Mix the ingredients together. Stick in the fridge for 15 minutes. Break into small pieces, roll into a ball and coat in egg and then in bread crumbs. Fry.
Finely grate the carrots and place in the middle of a clean tea towel. Gather up the towel, and squeeze the carrot juice into a jug, discarding the pulp. Add the orange juice and top up with a little cold water if needed to make up 360ml liquid. Add to lolly moulds and freeze or use an ice cube tray and add a cocktail stick when half frozen.
There are endless possibilities with these. Experiment with mashed avocado, lime and yogurt or invent a new recipe.
This theme is about children developing a positive sense of who they are, and feeling that they are valued and respected as part of a family and community.
The activities are connected to the development of identity and belonging. They centre on connections to my family, my friends and my community.
Who are we and where do we come from? This activity is about the family and the where it originates from in Ireland and elsewhere. Looking at maps and seeing where mum and dad originate from including grandparents. What are the family stories? What jobs did people do in the past?
This activity involves looking at pictures and tracking back in photos to see the child’s connection to their family. Draw or paint a big tree and add as many family member as you can.
This activity is about the child and how they came to be in the family. What is the story of the day they were born and where were they born? Look at the first photo of the child and tell their story. This is particularly powerful for fostered and adopted children.
This activity involves taking a large piece of paper and drawing your home as the centre point. The child can then add in the roads to and mark in the school, the shops, the post office, sports pitches or other landmarks. Add in friends’ homes or the homes of wider family members. This activity builds the child’s understanding of their place in their wider community.
This theme is about children sharing their experiences, thoughts, ideas and feelings with others with growing confidence and competence, in a variety of ways and for a variety of purposes.
This theme cuts across all the other themes. Communication is about all the opportunities in the day where we talk and listen to children. Your aim is always to give them opportunities to talk and expand their vocabulary.
Reading stories together helps build routine and closeness.
Story Starters; Start imagination stories by looking out the window with a line like ‘A long time ago there was a tiny little fairy who lived under that tree’. Encourage your child to say the next line and the story is built together. The children can draw the story.
A great game is to try communicating in silence with no words just using gestures and expressions.
Card games and board games are great ways to encourage new words and turn taking.
If you can bring a routine to your day. It might look something like this.