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‘Aistear’ – The Early Childhood Curriculum Framework



Play is one of the key contexts for children’s early learning and development. Through relationships in play, children develop and demonstrate improved verbal communication, high levels of social and interaction skills, creative use of play materials, imaginative thinking and problem-solving capacities.

Teachers plan for the play to enable the children’s learning using ‘Aistear’ as a curriculum framework for children from birth to 6 years in Ireland. More detailed information about ‘Aistear’ can be found on the website showing how important play is for children’s learning and development.


In Castlebar ETNS, ‘Aistear’ takes place in Junior and Senior Infants for approximately 45 minutes each day. During Aistear children experience physical play, games with rules, creative play, language play and pretend play. Children will cover topics such as Home, School, the Café, Our Community of Castlebar, Shops (Bakers, Butchers), Doctor, Dentist, Hospital, Food shops, Clothes shop, Hairdressers, Chinese New Year and Travel Agents. We will have many other  exciting topics to cover in the coming years so if you have real life objects such as hospital scrubs, pet carriers or gardening equipment to donate we will gladly accept it! We would also like to invite guest speakers such as a vet, a hairdresser, a doctor or other such occupations to visit, so if you are one of these or know someone who is and could relate to 5/6 year olds let us know!


During ‘Aistear’ the teacher provides rich environments where the children are able to explore, touch, manipulate and experiment with a variety of real life and diverse materials. Children ask questions, make predictions and develop their thinking. They learn together with others. The environment offers opportunities to actively explore, to work independently and with others, to make decisions and follow through on their ideas, to solve problems, to engage in real life activities and to experience co-operative, symbolic, dramatic or pretend play.




The structure of ‘Aistear’ time is as follows:


Time for play: ‘Aistear’ recommends an hour of play each day. Children plan together in a ‘huddle’ (5 mins); play (30 – 35mins); tidy up (5 mins); review their play (5 mins)


Organising Play: We play in groups and  have a rota to change areas for play each day; we provide various types of play activities (e.g. role-play, construction, junk art, creative, small world, sand / water, jigsaws, play dough, listening / writing area)


Supporting the child’s learning through play:

The role of the teacher while the children are playing is very important. We participate in the play; sometimes the teacher is ‘in role’ in the dramatic area; we role model specific language; ask questions; monitor the play; observe the children and document their play through notes or photos. The teacher gathers evidence of the children’s learning.


Reviewing play: Review happens daily via ‘show and tell’; discussing the photographs of their play; groups discussing what worked well / any difficulties they experienced; and via interviews with children.




‘Aistear’ is a journey together.

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