Aistear: Introducing the Topic

Some people have asked about introducing the topic in class.

I like to spend time on Monday mornings on Oral Language, and I use this time to introduce my new Aistear topic if necessary. Most of my topics are introduced through a story.

I show the book to the class and read the story to the children, then we have a class discussion about the story including the Building Bridges Comprehension Strategies. After the discussion I explain to the class that it is time to change the Aistear topic and ask them to guess what the topic is from the story. Usually they can guess easily with few prompts and we make a word map on the board of all the words we can think of that link to the topic. This helps to increase the vocabulary for some children. We then have a quick chat about what we could do in all the areas. Initially the children can easily tell you about socio-dramatic and art and I have to probe for ideas for the other areas. However as the year goes on the children become more familiar with this set up and can come up with great ideas for construction and art. This is all in my oral language lesson on Monday.

Before they begin to play in Aistear, we chat about the topic again, what extra things we might need and the rules for bringing in things from home (name on it and always ask permission). At the end of Aistear, we come together as a group and chat about what we did in different areas. At the start of the year I always took photos of the different groups in action, I put them on the Smart board at the end of the session and they got to tell everyone what they were doing in the area when the picture was taken.

As the weeks go on, we chat and write about the Aistear topic in English, if it links to Irish we include it, sometimes I use the socio-dramatic area in Irish. In Maths we often relate it back to the Aistear topic. S.E.S.E. can be related to the story for the topic or discrete lessons or vocabulary that can add to our Aistear session. I integrate as I go, some topics lend themselves to cross-curricular integration more than others.

I like to check back to the word map a few times during the week, asking the children for more new words that link to the topic. For some topics I often take time to role-play the situation with the children. For example, the travel agents, I was the travel agent and the child came to book their holiday. I modelled the questions and filling in the booking form with them, then another child was the travel agent and I was booking my holiday. Through role-play the children can see how to use the language from our word map. I always use role-play and modelling in discrete lessons so as not to interrupt the Aistear session.

Finally after introducing the topic to the class, I email the parents about the new topic. I include the story I used to introduce the topic and always ask for resources from home too. Over the year I developed a newsletter for parents on the different themes and this included songs and rhymes in English and Irish where possible and suggested activities for parents at home. These newsletters are available to purchase on my Mash.ie store.

I hope this gives a general idea of introducing an Aistear topic. If anyone has any questions regarding introducing the Aistear topic, please drop me an email. Happy planning.

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