Aistear: Where to start

I’ve had a couple of messages from followers on where to begin with Aistear. Aistear is not prescribed as a stand alone subject, it is a suggested methodology within the new Language Curriculum. The Language curriculum reflects the key principles of Aistear also. Aistear involves integrating subjects with playful learning and hands on learning activities as core methodologies.

Where to start in your classroom??

An earlier blog post has identified the key play areas, socio-dramatic, small world, construction, junk art and sand/water.

To establish Aistear in your class it is important to set up these areas and have appropriate vocabulary and signs at each area also. This also helps when introducing your class to Aistear and how it works.

I have five groups within my class, these are separate to my table groupings. Each group is an even mixture (where possible) of boys and girls, juniors and seniors for a mixed class and mixed abilities too. I explain to the groups that each group works together and they must try and solve problems within the group before seeking teachers help. This does take a few lessons to identify problems in a group and how to solve them. If an issue arises within a group on a particular day I discuss it after, what was the problem? how did you solve it? What could you have done to solve the problem? How could you avoid it the next day? This is an important part of Aistear for me, learning to negotiate and share with their peers without teacher intervention. While it may seem difficult at the beginning of the year, the children learn to solve problems and arguments within their group during the year and they become more confident in doing so.

Aistear is on my timetable everyday for approx 45 mins. This includes the plan, play and recap after. It is important to discuss what they did in their areas for ideas for other groups and for oral langauge too. Each group spends a day at each area, so by the end of the week the groups have been to all the areas. I like to run a topic over 3-4 weeks. So each group will get 3 or 4 days in socio-dramatic/dress-up etc. However, it is important to be flexible with this, not all topics will work and don’t be afraid to change them. Similarly, they might love one topic and are really engaged which can make it hard to change the topic. Once I let a restaurant topic run for 5 weeks because they just loved it.

I have a visual timetable for Aistear on the wall, I took pictures of each area and printed them in A4. My Aistear groups change with the seasons, hedgehogs, squirrels for Autumn, rainbows and chicks etc for Spring. This way I can change the Aistear groups each term too. At the start of the year children can often be confused about their groups, so I had ‘clothes pegs with their name and a picture of their animal on it. I gave each child their clothes peg each day and they could find their group and the play area they were in.

If anyone has any questions about implementing Aistear in your class, please send me an e-mail or a PM.

If you’re introducing Aistear to your class it can be daunting, deciding where to begin and what topics to choose. My term 1 Planner is available in my Mash.ie store and includes four topics that I like to use at the beginning of the year. It contains curriculum links and suggestions for discrete lessons to link with your topics. Aistear plans for specific topics are also available in my Mash.ie store.

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