Thursday, 9 February 2017

My Aistear Journey: The Clothes Shop

In November, while studying a thematic unit based around 'Clothes', our Aistear activities centred around the clothes shop and I have to say, this was by far one of my class' favourite topics so far! 

During this unit, we played in the following play areas: 

1. Roleplay: The Clothes Shop

Layout and Resources: When setting up the clothes shop in my roleplay area I printed off and stuck up various clothes shop display signs (opening times, posters stating prices and items on sale, etc.). I left some blank price tags in a bowl for the shop assistant to use. I set up a till area with a cash register, play money and paper for receipts. I had a portable clothes rack at home which I set up at a lower height for the children and added some hangers to this to hang the dress up clothes on. I turned my play kitchen backwards to section off an area which I labelled as the changing room. I also added a tin foil mirror to the wall in this 'room' along with a chair for putting their dress up clothes on. Finally, I put labels on my shelves for anything that needed to be folded for display. 

Language Opportunities: While playing in the clothes shop, the customers discussed things they would like to buy and why they needed these items, asked for help if they needed it, told the shop assistant that they were 'just looking' if they didn't need any help, asked for a smaller or bigger size (small, medium or large) and asked for a discount from the sales assistant. The shop assistant's job was to welcome the customer, to help them find what they were looking for, to recommend items to them, to sort, hang and fold the clothes and to check out their customers.

2. Small World: The Clothes Shop

Layout and Resources: In the Small World basket the children had small world people and 'Barbie' clothes to dress them in/display in their shop. I also included some pieces of small play furniture I had bought in Lidl (shelves, wardrobe, table and chairs).
Language Opportunities: The scenarios played out in the Small World clothes shop were similar to those acted out in the roleplay area.
3. Construction: Building a Shopping Centre

Layout and Resources: The children used Lego, Duplo and blocks to build a shopping centre. I had printed off some images of shopping centres to give them some ideas. 
Language Opportunities: There were a lot of opportunities here for discussions about shopping centres they had been to, what shops/eating facilities they had in them, how many shops would be in a shopping centre, how they needed to include tills, aisles and a car park, etc.


4. Art: Dressing Paper Dolls

Layout and Resources: I gave the children some paper dolls and had them cut out, colour and stick on clothes onto the dolls.
Language Opportunities: This activity gave us the chance to discuss various types of clothing, why they chose certain clothing for their doll (job, age, weather, etc.) as well as various body parts. 

5. Water: Washing Clothes

Layout and Resources: Using the two sectioned sand table in my room, I filled one side with water and attached a string clothes line to the other. Then I gave them some pegs and doll's clothes to wash. 
Language Opportunities: During this activity the children washed the clothes, wrung out the water and hung them out to dry. 

If you are interested in more lessons based around the topic of clothes, check out this post for ideas in a variety of subject areas.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Teaching Word Families to Infants: 'i' Families

Following last week's post on how I teach various word families to my Senior Infant class, this week I am posting some resources to help you to teach word families that contain the letter 'i' as a medial sound (-in, -ill, -ip, -ig).

Note:These links contain PowerPoints I have made for teaching these word families which you can download and use for educational purposes. Others will bring you to stories you can find elsewhere online.

Word Families:
  • -in: The Twin (Dropbox PowerPoint file that can be downloaded to your computer)
  • -ip: Pip's Sore Hip (Dropbox PowerPoint file that can be downloaded to your computer)
  • -ill: Bill Feels Ill (A YouTube link)
  • -ig: Tig the Pig (Dropbox interactive PowerPoint file that can be downloaded to your computer)
If you happened to miss last week's post, you can find it here, along with all the resources you will need to teach word families containing 'a' as a medial sound.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Teaching Word Families to Infants: 'a' Words

Each week my Senior Infant class study a different word family. I teach these word families in the following ways:

1. On a Thursday I introduce the word family we will be focusing on over the next week. We then read a story which features a variety of these words on the interactive board (see end of post).

2. After we have read and reread the story, I have the children use their mini-whiteboards to draw a picture of each word which appears on the PowerPoint. We then compare their drawings with the revealed image.

3. I show them a picture of a word from the word family and they must try to write the word on their mini-whiteboards.

4. I print off the stories (print the PowerPoint slides to feature multiple slides on one sheet) and then send them home with the children the following week to read at home. Throughout the week we also practice reading the words in school.

5. One of the literacy centres they will complete the following week will include an activity based on this word family.

6. On a Friday we have an informal spelling test of words from this word family and some others we have covered previously, to check their learning.

Over the coming weeks, I will be posting the PowerPoint resources I use with my class during the year to teach these word families. Some of these links will include PowerPoints I have made for these word families which you can download and use and others will bring you to stories you can find elsewhere online. I hope you find these useful!

Word families featuring 'a' vowel;
The Cat on the Mat (Dropbox PowerPoint file that can be downloaded to your computer)
The Gingerbread Man (Dropbox PowerPoint file that can be downloaded to your computer)
Hap Can See (Link to PDF file that can be downloaded)
Shhh (Link to PDF file that can be downloaded)

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

My Aistear Journey: Myself and My Family

Book Corner
The theme I chose to use to begin our Aistear journey in Senior Infants was 'Myself and My Family'. I am planning to keep this theme going for the rest of the month as we get used to this new play system.

My centres are as follows:

1. Roleplay: Home corner

For my home corner I set up my Ikea kitchen in the library area. I have some Home Corner Display Resources on the walls (pictures, a fireplace, a flower pot, a T.V., labels, etc.). I also leave a box full of extra items in the play corner for them to use in their roleplay too. These items include copybooks, notebooks, crayons, dolls, pens, a phone, a newspaper, etc. During the day I have a storage box located under the noticeboard and in front of the kitchen for the children to sit on when they read library books. For Aistear time, we move this and use it as a table/bed/chair/food preparation surface in the house. It also creates a separate space for the play area as it sections it off from the rest of the classroom. 
Home Corner
Playing tennis and Playstation
Washing up

While they are playing we discuss who each person is in the house and what they are doing. They make dinner, wash up, set the table and eat. The 'children' take part in other activities in the house, while also helping their parents with jobs around the house. During the playtime, we use vocabulary based around food, utensils, parts of the house and various kitchen processes. It also offers an opportunity to discuss things like fire safety, food safety, turn taking, being responsible, etc.

2. Arts and Crafts: Playdough Figures

I printed and laminated a class photo of the children for them to use when making themselves out of playdough. The children practice rolling shapes, making marks on the figures and we discuss the various body parts and their proportions.

3. Sandplay:

The children can practice writing their name in the sand, drawing some of their favourite things  in the sand and building their house using the buckets and other equipment.

4. Construction: Lego/Blocks

I give each child a laminated picture of their school and request that they build their school out of lego, blocks or cubes. We discuss how many windows they need to include, which parts of the building are tall/small, etc. Sometimes they end up building more of an indoor floorplan of the classroom or the school so I get them to name the rooms, point out the furniture, show me where the office is, discuss who works there, etc.

5. Small World: At School

The children have the opportunity here to play with the Happyland school children, teacher, family, pets and the school building. We discuss and act out what things the children will be doing during the day, what the family do after dropping their kids to school and what the children will do when school is over at the end of the day. One day, the Happyland children even went to visit the park that one of the children in the construction area built outside the school!

Some children went to learn how to swim!

Next week, I will be writing about some ways I structure my Aistear lesson and practical organisational advice if you decide to use Aistear in your classroom. If you missed last week's post on organising your room for Aistear, you can find it here.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

My Aistear Journey: Starting Out

This year I am heading back to Senior Infants after spending 4 years in senior classes. I can't deny that I'm feeling slightly anxious about the move (despite having taught this class level before!) but I am excited about the year ahead.

As Aistear was only in its infancy (no pun intended!) when I taught Senior Infants before, I didn't have an opportunity to try it out. While I did use structured play in my classroom, it was unrelated to the theme I was covering with the class that month.

While I have attended workshops based on Aistear in my school, over the summer I completed the 'Infant Education' summer course offered by CPD in an attempt to brush up on my knowledge. I had a look at various Aistear plans online (Infant Teaching Ideas has lots that you can download for €2, Twinkl also has some available if you are a member) to get ideas for what kind of equipment I would need, activity ideas I could use, etc.  I also gathered information from anyone with any experience of using the programme in their school to get as much practical advice as possible.

Thus begins this series of posts about my Aistear journey in Senior Infants. As I am posting this during my Back to School week of posts, I am going to begin the series with a look at how I have prepared for using Aistear in my classroom. Keep in mind that I am in no way an expert in this field but some of this information might give you a general idea on how to organise your classroom before returning to school.

Step 1: Prepare the Room:

My classroom has not been used for Aistear before, so it was laid out as a traditional classroom. I drew out a floorplan of the room so I could decide where I wanted to place various stations. Firstly, I moved my desk to the side of the room to create more 'carpet' space in the front of the room for circle time discussions before and after play.

Next, I created a book corner using two sets of shelves, which sectioned off an area of the room. This will be used as a library area during the day, but will also provide a space to use as a roleplay area during Aistear.

I have a cupboard that is quite a substantial size located at the bottom of my room, sitting on a tiled area. I have allocated this surface for my sand/wet play area.

The desks will be organised in groups in my room, so I will use one group for construction, one group for lego/blocks and one group for art (I have large plastic tablecloths to use on the table). Equipment needed for these stations will be located in boxes that the children can bring over to the table during Aistear sessions.

Step 2: Prepare the Groups:

I downloaded, printed and laminated group names from here. One sign will be stuck to each table and one will be used on the play rota chart. I then used these Play Station Signs to add to our play rota chart. These will be moved daily so that each group will have a chance to play at each station once a week.

Step 3: Create an Inventory:

It's important to utilise what is already in the room for Aistear. I made a list of all the toys/materials already available in the classroom (lego, blocks, finger puppets, jigsaws, animals, etc.). This way, when you are planning your activities during the year, you know what you have to use and where it is located.

Step 4: Buy/Borrow/Make Some Extra Equipment:

Despite having some equipment already in school, there were a few extra materials I needed to acquire based on some themes I am thinking of covering. Some materials I was able to find at home (an old phone, old cutlery, etc.) and some I knew I could make at a later date. However there were some that I needed to buy/borrow also. If you have been given a budget to spend on Aistear or are interested in buying some items yourself, you may get some ideas here for things to buy/download:

1. Play Kitchen (Ikea): €69 (utensils and pots are also available)
2. Play Food (Smyths): €14
3. Happyland Figurines (ELC): €11 (Regularly on sale for around €7)
4. Cars/Trucks/Diggers/Garda Car/Fire Trucks/Letters/Numbers (Dealz): €1.50 each
5. Doctor's Kit (Smyths): €8
6. Cash register (Ikea): €16
7. Tool box (Ikea): €9
8. Finger Puppets (Ikea):  €6
8. Small Storage Boxes (Ikea): €1 - €4  
9. Reusable plastic table cloths (I got the linked ones in Lidl but I'm sure you can get them elsewhere)
10. Make your own playdough
11. Roleplay Resources (Twinkl - membership required)
12. Roleplay Resources (Sparklebox - free)

I stored all of my equipment in labelled boxes for easy access.

Once I have begun using Aistear I will discuss the layout of my lessons and topic ideas however, for now, best of luck with your back to school preparations!