Activity books are excellent resources for introducing, developing and monitoring key skills and ideas throughout Primary School. They achieve this through a range of engaging and enjoyable exercises designed to support the content of the curriculum and help young learners as they progress from Junior to Senior Infants and beyond.
If you are the parent of a young child who will be starting Junior Infants soon, this guide is for you. It will cover the key subjects your child will be introduced to during the Junior Infants key stage and discuss how activity books can support their development.
At the Junior Infants key stage, handwriting practice will begin with pre-cursive development through an introduction to the ‘three Ps’ (posture, pencil grip and page position), left-to-right orientation, fine motor skills and recognising shapes, patterns and letters. Once children feel comfortable with these pre-writing skills, their teacher will start to gradually encourage them to practice letter formation and the basics of cursive.
There are a variety of handwriting activity books available for Junior Infants, many of which are written by Irish Primary School teachers and aligned with the Primary Language Curriculum. Programmes such as Folens’ Write This Way series use a structured approach to handwriting practice using a range of activities to develop essential skills from Junior Infants up to Sixth Class.
For more information about how you can help your Junior Infant with their handwriting practice outside of the classroom and some more excellent handwriting activity books, read our expert guide.
Phonics is an important skill that involves understanding how the spoken language (the way words sound) relates to the written language (letters and syllables). Teaching phonics at the Junior Infants level focuses on demonstrating this relationship so that children can become more confident and capable readers and speakers.
Activity books for developing phonics skills in Junior Infants should be able to hold children’s attention while also making learning fun. Basic skills such as listening, developing vocabulary and recognising sound patterns should be encouraged through engaging exercises such as puzzles, word and picture matching, nursery rhymes and fairy tales. Just Phonics 42 Sounds and the Jolly Phonics Activity Books series are two great resources that support the transition from letter recognition and formation to complete word sounds through fun activities and stories.
Our guide to phonics activity books for Junior Infants explains this subject in more detail and discusses how you can help your child with their phonological development at home.
Pre-reading skills are closely related to phonics and handwriting. This area focuses on developing a Junior Infant’s phonological awareness, vocabulary and spoken language, listening comprehension, letter recognition and print motivation, so that they can become a fluent reader, writer and speaker. Additional themes include narrative skills, left-to-right page orientation, motor control and sequencing.
Activity books are therefore useful for supporting a child’s development of pre-reading skills, as these resources can deliver visual, auditory and motor control assistance in a fun and accessible way. The Folens Pre-Reading Activity Book, for example, uses fairy tales and nursery rhymes to develop children’s memory, coordination, phonemic awareness and multi-sensory orientation.
For more pre-reading activity books and advice on how you can help your child with their pre-reading development at home, read our expert guide.
In comparison with pre-reading skills which includes oral language development, skills teaching focuses on the acquisition of literacy abilities in young readers of Junior Infants-age onwards. Skills teaching includes encouraging listening, reading and writing through interaction and exposure to a range of texts so that children can become competent communicators and thinkers.
Edco’s Big Box Adventures and CJ Fallon’s Wonderland series are two resources popular with parents and teachers alike for their research-driven approaches to supporting early literacy development through fiction, non-fiction, poetry and activities. Big Box Adventures has been developed with guidance from the Department of Education and Skills specifically for the needs of parents, children and teachers at Irish Primary Schools.
We’ve discussed some ways you can assist your child with their early literacy capabilities in our guide to skills activity books for Junior Infants.
The Primary Language Curriculum recognises that Ireland is linguistically and culturally diverse, and children here learn in different contexts. The teaching and learning of language can therefore vary across different schools. The curriculum integrates English and Irish in all school contexts and has the same structure for both languages.
The teaching of English in all school settings benefits greatly from the use of activity books that help children of all language abilities develop their English skills while also seeing how it relates to Irish. The CJ Fallon Core Reader series, for example, uses fictional stories set in Ireland so that children can learn English and understand the world around them.
Our guide to English activity books for Junior Infants introduces some more resources your child can take with them to school and discusses some factors to consider when finding an activity book for your child.
At the Infants stage of Primary School, early mathematical development includes basic numeracy, shapes, spatial awareness, measurements, data and reasoning. Activities your child will participate in during class will involve classifying, matching, comparing and ordering information.
Activity books for this subject are designed to deliver the core strands of the Revised Mathematics Primary Curriculum in a way that helps children gain the key skills mentioned above and understand maths in everyday life. Ready Steady Maths from Gill Education, for example, uses a variety of Euro-based activities to demonstrate how you can use maths in real-world settings.
We’ve highlighted more excellent activity books and maths programmes for Junior Infants in our expert guide.
The Social, Environmental and Scientific Education (SESE) curriculum in schools teaches the subjects of history, geography and science. The programme encourages pupils to explore, investigate and understand their local environment and the world as a whole.
Awareness of and care for the environment is a key aspect of SESE teaching and learning in Primary Schools, and activity books for Junior Infants help to demonstrate how children can make sense of the relationship between humans and the natural world. The Small World programme from CJ Fallon is written by subject experts in English and Gaeilge, and aims to encourage young learners to appreciate the world around them.
Our guide to SESE activity books for Junior Infants highlights more resources for this Primary School level and discusses some ways you can support your child’s SESE learning at home.
Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) teaching in Irish schools is delivered from Primary Schools onwards to help pupils understand and appreciate their physical and mental health, as well as the wellbeing of others. It is designed to nurture key values, attitudes and interpersonal skills that will guide children’s actions and decisions as they progress through school and grow older.
SPHE activity books can be useful for helping children attach names to certain emotions they don’t have the vocabulary for and providing a space for them to reflect on what they are thinking or feeling without any pressure to use perfect grammar or spelling. My Wellbeing Diary is a whole-school approach using 10 learning modules that demonstrate the importance of emotional literacy, resilience and adopting a healthy lifestyle for long-term mindfulness.
Our guide to SPHE in Junior Infants discusses why this subject is important to early years development and introduces some excellent activity books for use in school and at home.
Art and music
Art and music teaching in Primary Schools is designed to encourage young children to express themselves freely and creatively through a variety of mediums. Engaging in art and music in Junior Infants allows young children to discover new skills and interests, nurture emotional development and connect with their learning beyond more academic subjects.
Activity books for these subjects provide excellent visual aids for guided learning as well as space for recognising progress and the achievement of key milestones. The Crayola Fun Friends Colouring and Activity Book offers lots of art and skill-building activity pages themed around friendship that Junior Infants can do independently or with a friend, whereas Edco’s Music Box A covers the three strands of the music curriculum to build confidence and monitor progress throughout the year.
For more information about finding the right art or music activity book for your Junior Infant and how you can support their creative pursuits at home, read our expert guide.
Gaeilge at the Primary School level is delivered through two curriculums: one for English-medium schools and another for Gaeltacht and Gaelscoileanna schools. It is structured and taught in the same way as English, and the two languages are integrated to reflect the diversity of language in Ireland.
Some resources such as An Gúm’s Séideán Sí programme are produced specifically for use in Irish-medium and Gaeltacht schools to improve Irish language proficiency. Others, such as the Céim ar Chéim programme, are ideal for English-medium schools as they aim to improve language confidence and competency gradually through various activities including aural, oral and written work.
Our guide to Gaeilge in Junior Infants introduces more activity books and offers some advice on introducing Gaeilge development outside of the classroom.