Apologies for the lack of posts, it has been busy settling back to school life, with a classroom change along the way.
One of my followers was looking for advice in setting up Aistear with limited resources and a limited budget so here are some suggestions.
Check what’s in your classroom or around the school. Teachers may also be in a position to donate some toys to your classroom too. Make a list of toys and resources available as you go, then you can decide what to put in the different areas.
A kitchen is great, but again not essential. I saw a fabulous post during the Summer of a teacher that used a three drawer tower as a kitchen. They had made a poster and stickers for a hob on the top. A tea set and food is probably one of the necessities of socio-dramatic as it can be used in so many topics. Other items for socio-dramatic include dolls, cash register, doctors set and phones. I used a mixture of plastic mobile phones and old office phones no longer in use.
To develop a small world the children will need cars and other vehicles. They will need blocks to build their own little town. A dolls house is an amazing addition to small world but in some cases it is beyond your budget.
Construction should include larger blocks, some teachers have collected shoe boxes and they were used for construction. I bought a giant jenga set for my class and we used that in our construction area. They were ideal if you were on a budget. Jaggo blocks would be amazing but with a bigger budget.
If you don’t have a sand tray you could use an under bed storage box. Children respond well in the sand area, some use the sand for sensory needs too. Simple buckets and spades will help in the sand area. I also had some larger construction vehicles that they used for some topics. Watch out in supermarkets and other shops as they are reducing their summer stock of buckets and spades at the moment.
For junk art, try your local Euro Giant or Dealz, they have great sets of pom poms, pipe cleaners, markers, stickers etc. I tried to provide a variety of resources for them to use. We also used paint, brushes and other materials that were in the classroom already. Also buy lots of cheap sellotape so that they can stick their creations together if they need to.
I am not aware of any set funding for Aistear from the Department (yet!!!), so it can be hard to build up your resources and toys. Here are some ideas you could try in your school.
Ask the wider school community for donations of toys that could help to build your area. I have gotten new kitchens, tea set, work benches and tools as donations from parents further up the school as they did not need them anymore. You could also send a list to parents if you wanted to avoid mismatched items being donated.
Plan your topics and let the parents know in advance. When I had infants I emailed the parents a week in advance with information on the new topic. I would ask for donations of toys and books that linked directly with the topic, I asked parents to label each item and they were returned at the end of the topic. Children loved to bring in their own toys for Aistear. One year I had an amazing rocket for small world for the Space topic.
Done Deal/Facebook Marketplace
Keep an eye on these sites as you might come across a bargain, similarly charity shops may also have toys you could use. I had milton/dettol wipes handy to clean everything before it went into the classroom.
Family and Friends:
Let your family and friends know what you are looking for, they might donate some toys to you or source them from others. I got some great toys from my sister as my nephews were too big for them.
I hope this helps!
Let me know where you get resources and toys for Aistear.